KUCHING, May 2 — A Sarawak state lawmaker today called on the federal government to tighten security at the border village of Serikin in Bau district to prevent Indonesian traders from freely plying their wares inside the state’s territory, especially during weekends.
Datuk Henry Harry Jinep, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) assemblyman for Tasik Biru, said there may be criminal elements moving and inter-mingling among the traders that could pose security threats to Sarawak.
“We should not be complacent. We should learn from the arrest of foreign terror suspects in Serian in March this year. We should remain vigilant,” he said during the debate on the opening address of the state Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
“Therefore, I call upon the federal government to consider the construction and establishment of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Serikin to better control the movement of vehicle traffic, people and goods coming in from Kalimantan into Sarawak,” he said.
He said it will also enhance border security between Kalimantan and Sarawak.
Jinep said the Serikin village is a thriving weekend market, attracting a steady flow of customers from all over Malaysia and foreign tourists.
“It is situated about 3km from the border and 20km from Bau town, and therefore, it is no surprise that most of the stalls are operated by Indonesians,” he said, adding that vendors from Kalimantan cross into Serikin on motorcycles and in mini vans to sell fruits, handicrafts, furniture and clothes.
He said the lack of CIQ checkpoints in Serikin meant that there was free flow of people, goods and vehicle traffic from Kalimantan into Sarawak.
“This can create a dangerous situation for Malaysia,” he said.
Meanwhile, DAP’s Bukit Assek lawmaker Irene Chang urged the state government to ensure that no extremism may be allowed to infiltrate the borders which would threaten the model religious tolerance of the state and people.
“I urge the state government not to overlook this issue for the physical development in this state,” she said.
She recalled that on March 15 this year, the world was horrified to witness the shooting spree by a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeting Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 worshippers and wounding dozens others.
“Less than two months later and on an Easter Sunday, the world again recoiled in horror to the devastation of more than 359 deaths caused by multiple bombings in three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka.
“Very much closer to home, in February this year, three terror suspects were arrested by our police in Serian,” she said, adding they had come to open a restaurant and married a vulnerable Sarawakian woman in order to obtain a spouse visa.
“This is a very serious security breach in our homeland and if we are not sufficiently vigilant and beef up our security measures, especially the measures taken by the state Immigration Department, to vigilantly scan all foreigners at all entry points into Sarawak,” she said.
Chang said the state Immigration authority has a massive and heavy responsibility to ensure that foreign terrorist fighters do not make Malaysia a safe haven and a transit point for lack in the immigration security.