Harder to breach Sabah’s sea border

Inspection infection: EsscomSecurity forces inspecting a boat in Sabah.

LAHAD DATU: The number of illegal migrants trying to slip in through the porous sea border of eastern Sabah has dropped drastically amid tighter border control in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Deputy Comm Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman said sea patrols were effective in stopping illegal immigrants from making it into Sabah.

DCP Ahmad Fuad noted that under special Ops Cegah Pati between April and September this year, there was a drop in the number of illegal immigrants sent back.

“In April there were about 1,400 deported while in September there were only 215 deported, ” he said.

He explained that this reflected the lower number of people entering the state illegally.

DCP Ahmad Fuad also said that radar detection by the Armed Forces also found less movement of small boats after nightfall and most crossings at the sea border were by commercial vessels.

He said the success was due to the good working relationship between various security agencies, including the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, police, General Operation Force (GOF) and the army, which were working round the clock to check illegal immigrants trying to slip in through various identified hotspots.

He said there were a total of 10 patrol vessels and 32 small boats involved in operations in five districts, which are Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau – including Kalabakan.

“Our operations are designed with the availability of our manpower and assets, ” he said.

He noted that operations against illegal immigrants on land, which started in August, were focused on hotspots at villages along the coast.

He said the operations involved five teams comprising 358 personnel from the GOF and army, who were assisted by auxiliary policemen from Felda and also from the district police.

DCP Ahmad Fuad said the operations both at sea and land were effective in checking the entry of illegal immigrants and also helped to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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