Major setback to border security

Masing unhappy Putrajaya ignored calls for more CIQs

KUCHING: The federal government’s decision not to construct more Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoints in Sarawak is a massive blow.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has ticked off the federal administration for ignoring calls to fortify the 1,100km Sarawak-Indonesia border.

More CIQ checkpoints are sorely needed to mitigate illegal border crossers and tighten security along the border, a fact that was pointed out by various Sarawak leaders in the past months.

Masing, who is also Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister, has expressed concern over the security of the hydroelectric plants (HEP) in Sarawak, which are in Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum along with the new plant in Baleh, which is expected to be completed by 2025.

All of these plants are situated in rural areas, which are close to the Sarawak-Indonesia border.

James Masing

“I told former Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the need to defend the border and secure our four HEPs, which are next to the Kalimantan border,” Masing said yesterday, recalling the conversation he had with Zahid during the latter’s tenure in the previous administration.

“I have hiked a section of this part of the border, from Lubok Antu to Kapit for nine days and eight nights. I know the need for Malaysia to provide security in this part of the border.

“However, before he (Zahid) could take further action, the General Election came and the rest is history,” Masing explained.

During the tabling of Budget 2020 by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last Friday, Sarawak was relegated to an afterthought in the construction of CIQs.

However, there was a special allocation given to Sabah in the Jalan Kalabakan-Serudong project and Johor in the Johor Causeway project for the stations to be built.

“Now it is even more important with Indonesia relocating its centre of administration to Kalimantan,” expressed Masing.

Hinting that he had grown weary of the blatant neglect by Putrajaya, Masing recalled that he had expressed his views in the media various times but to no avail.

“It is my hope that the current government takes my suggestion seriously and pursues the matter as a security concern for Malaysia.

“Budget 2020 does not reflect my concern on the security issue and the need for us to guard our four HEPs.

“As the old saying goes, ‘Don’t start building the house when the rain starts, it may be too late’,” he added.