State mulls deploying more resources to curb illegal immigrants

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

KUCHING: Sarawak may allocate more resources for intelligence-centric projects in order to curd the serious threats posed by illegal immigrants.

This was discussed at the Fourth Border Security Control Committee (BSCC) meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing today (Mar 4).

The meeting also discussed ways to halt the activities of ‘tekongs’ who arrange for the illegal immigrants (Pati) to sneak into Sarawak for various purposes like seeking employment, doing business or worse, smuggling goods into neighbouring Kalimantan.

“Our authorities including police, general operations force (PGA), army, Immigration and Customs have worked round the clock to address the issue of Pati coming into Sarawak but still this is an on-going activity.

“What’s even worse is that there are employers and legal foreign workers who are harbouring these Pati,” said Masing, who is also Infrastructure and Port Development Minister.

He noted that scheduled road blocks did not seem to deter these illegal immigrants.

“The authorities now have to resort to snap check operations to catch these culprits off guard. 

“This is why there should be more resources allocated for integrated intelligence projects between the agencies involved like PGA, army, police, Immigration and Customs.

“Hopefully, we can gain information and strategise to prevent these illegal activities,” he said.

Earlier, the meeting was briefed by an officer from the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred) regarding plantations located near the Sarawak/Kalimantan border. 

According to Manred, there are 699 large plantations located at the border, mostly in Miri, Bintulu and Mukah.

“In 2020, the total number of foreign workers in the plantation sector in Sarawak was 68,960. 

“In Miri alone there were more than 16,000 foreign workers, while in Bintulu and Mukah the numbers were around 15,000 and 10,000 respectively,” a ministry officer said. 

Manred has drawn up a Site Surveillance Plan for the agro-community sector to ensure that all plantations comply with the Covid-19 SOPs set by SDMC and to create more awareness on the dangers of employing illegal foreign workers.