Tighter border controls

Tighter border controls
Desperately holding on: Two Myanmar women putting up a struggle as Immigration officers pick them up in Kampung Pengkalan Rama Pantai in Malacca for not having valid documents.

PUTRAJAYA - A total overhaul of all border security measures is on the cards for at least five law enforcement agencies that guard the Malaysian-Thai border.

This comes about after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission found too many weaknesses with the border patrol, which has come under heavy scrutiny following the discovery of mass graves and human-trafficking camps there.

One of the weaknesses is the existence of countless jalan tikus or illegal pathways along the northern border.

"There are probably hundreds of them, and it is not easy to manage; if you close one, another new one may pop up," MACC deputy chief commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Mustafar Ali said in an interview.

The lax security along the border area started showing when the MACC carried out raids on syndicates smuggling diesel and petrol into Thailand in March and arrested several police personnel.

"We discovered many weaknesses at our borders which allow illegal immigrants to slip in and out of the country."

"So we need a holistic approach to plug loopholes and revamp the security procedures."

"We also need everyone's help, be it the villagers, the community or the law enforcers to inform if they discover these jalan tikus," said Mustafar.

The free trade zone in Wang Kelian, he said, initially allowed visitors to move freely between Malaysia and Thailand, adding that such zones at the border had become "conduits" for smuggling activities due to lack of enforcement.

"We know these free trade zones contribute to the local economy. But we found that it is being used to carry out smuggling work," he said.

After MACC raised the security concerns, visitors entering the free trade zone are required to produce their passports at the border checkpoint, said Mustafar.

The MACC is working with the Home Ministry, police, Customs, Immigration, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, Malaysia Maritime Enforce­ment Agency and National Security Council to improve border security.

He said MACC was also working with the National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand on how to deal with the border issues.

Mustafar had said before that MACC also found that several supervisors and enforcement unit chiefs at the border area were living beyond their means and were not strict with their subordinates.

"This has been going on un­checked until we moved in recently," he said.

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