LAHAD DATU, (April 2)– The long-standing and pressing issue on the illegal immigrants in Sabah needs a comprehensive and effective solution and must not merely be shouldered by the security forces.
Director-General of Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) Datuk Mohammad Mentek said efforts to contain the influx of illegal immigrants would not be fruitful, unless there was full cooperation from all parties.
“We need to tackle this problem as a whole and provide for a long-lasting and effective solution,” he said at a security briefing to Sabah Fishermen Association (Pengasah), here Wednesday.
Mohammad said people tend to look at the issue of illegal immigrants in the perspective of security but not from the local involvement, making it difficult for the authorities to effectively tackle the issue.
“Obviously, this issue requires the cooperation of all parties. We cannot rely heavily on the security forces. Nonetheless, channeling information is good enough for authorities to take action.
“Based on reports and feedback we have received, there are still people harbouring illegal immigrants and providing shelter to illegal immigrants and this should not have happened. If these problems remain, we will not be able to resolve the issue effectively,” he said.
Mohammad said the role of fishermen in providing information was equally important, as they could serve as the “eyes and ears” in channeling information within the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) on the presence of illegal immigrants.
“It is an uneasy task for ESSCOM to address this problem, owing to the long and vast coastline.
Mohammad also said the issue of smuggling and cross-boarder crime as highlighted by the association would be dealt with through a thorough study.
Earlier, the association president Jaini Ating submitted a memorandum to Mohammad for the proposed establishment of a volunteer team, comprising youths and fishermen.
The team to be equipped with necessary telecommunication equipments, among others was to assist ESSCom to contain the presence of illegal immigrants.– BERNAMA