KOTA KINABALU, (Feb 28) — An operation, “Ops Gasak 3” will be launched soon to clean up settlements in maritime areas, including on the islands, from illegal immigrants.
Director-General of Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) Datuk Mohammad Mentek said the operation, which involved various agencies, was a follow up to Ops Gasak 1 and 2 launched on four islands in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) area.
“The operation aims to ensure no illegal immigrants seek refuge or hide on the island,” he said.
“The operation is to be carried out continuously either on a small or large scale, and it is to be intensified in March,” he said.
Mohammmad was speaking to reporters after being interviewed live on Radio Sabahfm at the Kompleks Bersepadu of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia here today.
He said the operation would not only be concentrated on the islands but also covered coastal settlements including in three districts of Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Semporna that had gone through the census exercise.
“We are also recommending stern action to be taken against any Malaysian providing protection and basic amenities to illegal immigrants,” he said.
On the census carried out on the water villages of Mangkalinau, Cahaya Baru, Muhibbah and Forest in Sandakan recently, he said it was successful with the close cooperation of various government agencies and no untoward incident occurred.
“Although there were initially doubts over ESSCom’s ability in carrying out the census, it was proven otherwise with almost 5,000 houses successfully covered in the census involving 171 enumerators.
Mohammad said the census report would be submitted to the state and federal governments for appropriate action, including determining the relocation and socio-economy of villagers.
“A thorough study needs to be done before we make a decision, as the socio-economy (after relocation) of the villagers must also be taken into consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammad said there was no aggression in the ESSZONE areas following the aftermath of the terrorist aggression in Kg Tanduo.
“This is as a result of joint collaboration and close cooperation of various agencies especially police and armed forces including the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and General Operations Force (GOF).
“Apart from additional battalion and police personnel, we are also looking at establishing new control posts in strategic locations and reactivating the control posts closed previously,” he said.
“Patrolling both at sea and in the airspace are also intensified, particularly at night. We are aware of the wide coastal area to focus on, but we are concentrating on identified routes that are used as entry points by neighboring citizens entering the country.
“That is why we have set up a special response team, Quick Response Force to be stationed in strategic locations,” he said.
Mohammad also said meetings and workshops had been held involving operators of tourism centres operating in the ESSZONE areas and this had led to the establishment of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to beef up security in tourist island areas.
In addition to increasing patrol assets, the government had also approved an allocation of RM11 million to upgrade facilities at the control posts for the security personnel’s welfare.– BERNAMA