More surveillance on Indonesia-Malaysia border

More surveillance on Indonesia-Malaysia border

The Indonesian Military (TNI) is planning to set up more security posts along the North Kalimantan and East Kalimantan borders with Malaysia, which are more than 1,000 kilometers long.

Mulawarman Military Command chief spokesman Lt. Col. Purwito Hadi said in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Thursday that they would add another 17 posts to make a total of 50 posts along the border area.

Purwito said that the cost for the project would be applied to the 2015 state budget, but said the amount had yet to be fully calculated.

The new border checkpoints, he said, were becoming more crucial because of an increase in the number of trespassers from both countries, which consequently raised the security threat.

"This is our way to affirm the presence of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and to protect the people and the territory," Purwito stated.

The main duty of border soldiers is to protect the border by prevented the state boundaries from being shifted. In the past, the border markers were shifted by illegal loggers from Malaysia in order to take timber from Indonesia's forested areas. Oil palm plantations also did the same thing not too long ago.

"Now, the border markers are seldom shifted, thanks to our intensive patrols," said Purwito.

Border security soldiers also have the right to conduct surveillance and investigations and to arrest those regarded as endangering security or carrying out illegal activities.

"We often catch liquor smugglers and drug traffickers," said Border Security task force head Lt. Col. Agustatius Sitepu, who is also commander of the 433 Air Crossing Infantry Battalion of the Army Strategic Command.

Border security troops are placed under the command of the task force. The TNI has deployed two battalions to watch over the West Kalimantan-Sarawak border and the East Kalimantan and North Kalimantan-Sarawak and Sabah borders.

The troops are stationed at the border posts, which serve as patrol bases as well as providing a sense of security for nearby communities.

This stretch of the border passes through areas like Long Pahangai in Mahakam Ulu regency (southwest of East Kalimantan), going northward to the Sungai Boh in Malinau regency and Long Bawan in Nunukan regency, North Kalimantan, and then extending from west to east through Lumbis, Tatagas, Simantobol and Sebuku.

The border security posts are generally located on mountain ridges, such as in the Schwaner mountainous region, which acts as a natural border between Indonesia and Malaysia.

However, they are also located at various other locales, such as the Simantobol and Simantopol posts, which are located in the middle of the jungle and far from human settlements, while the post in Long Bawan is located in the densely populated Long Bawan district.

Most of them are modestly built of timber. The posts are usually modified by soldiers stationed in them in such ways that make them more functional and habitable.

A number of disputes in the border areas keep occurring. A recent one took place in November 2014, when the government said that three out of 10 villages in the Lumbis Ongon subdistrict, Nunukan, North Kalimantan, were declared to be part of Malaysia's territory.

The village areas were poor and had no access to the Indonesian government's development projects, so the government concluded that accelerating development could reduce poverty as well as protect the territory.

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