KUCHING, Jan 20 — The National Task Force (NTF) wants the Sarawak government to find a suitable mechanism to ensure the legal entry of foreign nationals into the state following reopening of the country’s economic sector under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).

NTF commander, Vice Admiral Datuk Aris Adi Tan Abdullah said the entry of foreign nationals should not be viewed as a threat as they came to Sarawak to seek employment.

“With the decline in Covid-19 cases currently, we must find the best approach in addressing the two matters. The NTF will be closely monitoring based on the current needs and what is being done by the government.”

He said this at a news conference after chairing the Collaboration Coordination Meeting involving the departments and public agencies in the aspect of Sarawak border security or “Op Benteng” at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, here, today.

Aris Adi said that among the long-term approaches that could be taken was focusing on three main matters, namely, ensuring the legal entry of foreign nationals, health level surveillance and coordination in the entry of foreign nationals based on the need for manpower.

Aris Adi said these approaches should take into consideration, public security and health by ensuring that the foreign nationals entering this country were negative for Covid-19.

“Their entry process might take time, while there is the need to be in line with the requirement for manpower and for coordination among all the agencies involved,” he added.

However, he said, the entry of undocumented migrants into the state was still under control and not causing any problems such as crime.

According to the “Op Benteng” statistics between May 2020 and December 2021, there were1,585 cases of illegal entry by foreign nationals at the Sarawak-Kalimantan border and out of this number, 1,169 undocumented migrants were arrested while 1,654 were chased out. — Bernama