Sabah polls: Security forces on high alert for illegal entries from neighbouring countries

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah security forces are maintaining a high alert against individuals encroaching into the state from neighbouring countries during the upcoming state elections.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said while they received intelligence that there might be an influx of foreigners trying to enter Sabah illegally to cause discord, there are also those with valid documents trying to return via backdoor routes.

“We have alerted all 96 police and Armed Forces posts on land and sea borders to patrol and identify such illegal routes.

“Some have valid documents (like foreign workers and Malaysians who are visiting relatives in neighbouring countries).

“They are probably stuck in the neighbouring country when the borders were closed due to the pandemic, but we are scared they might come back bringing Covid-19 if they do not go through gazetted entry points, ” he told reporters at a press conference on Sunday (Sept 20).

Hazani reminded the public to inform the authorities if they detected the presence of illegal immigrants within their community, and warned those who tried to cover for them by providing accommodations.

Asked whether Covid-19 patients or those still in quarantine will be allowed to vote, he said the police will sit with the Election Commission, National Security Council and Health Ministry to determine the matter and finetune the standard operating procedure if it is allowed.

“Every Malaysian citizen has the right to vote, but we need to finetune this, as it will be complicated for all quarters and the different levels involved.

“We will make a joint statement once we get approval from the higher level, ” said Hazani.

On other developments, he said 6,628 policemen who are working on polling day will be going for early voting on Sept 22.

On whether there were changes of directives for campaigning at Sabah’s east coast due to the rising virus cases there, he said for now, ceramah and house-to-house visits are still allowed, as long as they follow the SOPs set.

Hazani said so far, nine investigation papers have been opened on police reports related to election offences, mostly involving provocation.

“We have referred some of them to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for further action, such as offences done online like on Facebook, ” he added.

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