KOTA KINABALU: Ops Benteng, the operation to protect Malaysia's borders, is also conducted in Sabah and Sarawak, and not just confined to the peninsula alone, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic).
The Senior Minister (Security) said Ops Benteng was crucial to ensure Malaysian borders are safeguarded from cross-border crimes and to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"All borders have to be tightened to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into our country, ” he said during a visit to the home of a retired Malaysian Army personnel at Kampung Setinggan, Jalan Sepanggar, on Saturday (July 12).
"This is crucial as we do not know the health status of illegal immigrants – whether they are Covid-19 carriers or not – because once they have entered our country without screening, they could potentially spread the virus," Ismail said.
When asked if Federal and state governments would "sit down together" to find a solution to Sabah’s illegal immigrant issue, he said Sabah had autonomy in these mattters.
He also said that illegal immigrant matters are under the Immigration Department, which is also under the Home Ministry.
"Ops Benteng, however, is under my ministry, the Defence Ministry, and it is being led by the Malaysian Armed Forces to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into our borders," Ismail said.
During his visit, Ismail donated essential items and cash to Abd Zahid Said and his family.
Speaking after the event, he said the government, through the Malaysian Armed Forces, has continued to provide aid to army personnel who had left the force but in need of financial assistance.
Ismail said the government had been handing out one-off RM500 government aid to army veterans and urged anyone who had not registered to do so immediately.
"I was told that in Sabah there are about 16,000 veterans but only two-thirds have registered.
"This one-off cash aid will end by September so I urge those who have not done so to immediately come forward and register," he said.
Also present at the event was Malaysian Army Veteran Affairs Department director Major-General Datuk Dzulkarnain Ahmad.
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