Fencing of Malaysia's borders under study

Barbed deterrent: A general view of the border fencing separating Malaysia and Thailand not far from a fruit plantation belonging to the Kedah Agro Integrated Plantations Sdn Bhd near Felda Bukit Tangga in Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah.

PETALING JAYA - Erecting secu­rity fences totalling 2,666km along the nation's borders is being considered as a measure to stop smuggling and people trafficking.

The Home Ministry is conducting a feasibility study on the fencing which will also serve as a replacement for existing border fences that are in deplo­rable condition.

Each year, the Government loses more than RM7bil (S$2.6 billion) to the smuggling of goods such as rice, petrol, diesel, alcoholic bevera­ges, cigarettes, fertiliser and herbicides.

There is also the matter of firearms being smuggled into the country, stolen vehicles snuck into neighbouring countries and fake fashion brands making their way in.

But stopping the trafficking of people is also a major reason for putting up the fences.

The fencing is for our borders with Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei, and what's being studied is the type of fence, its height, total cost, how it will be guarded and if it needs to be electrified.

A special committee, known as the Security Fence Technical Team, is conducting the study that is expected to be completed by early October.

It will then be submitted to the Cabinet.

Home Ministry Border Security and Police Division secretary Badrul Hisham Mohd said the division headed the committee.

He said the team was already in the second phase of its study and would be meeting the respective agencies in Sabah and Sarawak on March 24 and 25.

The borders at the north of the peninsula need about 650km of fencing while those in Sabah and Sarawak require about 2,000km, said Badrul, who is also Smuggling Prevention Unit (UPP) director-general.

"Initially we were asked to carry out a study on security fencing at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

"But after the severity of (recent) cross-border crimes, this was extended to (the international borders at) Sabah and Sarawak," he said.

He explained that security fencing was different from border fencing which needs the approval of the neighbouring nation.

"Security fencing can be set up anywhere by the Government and needs no foreign appro­val. This will save us time," said Badrul.

Others involved in the study were the Ministry of Finance, National Security Council, Eco­nomic Planning Unit, Public Works Department and Depart­ment of Survey and Mapping Malaysia.

Badrul said 12 companies had approached the Home Ministry, showing interest in building the security fencing.

The EPU had suggested tapping the expertise of research groups of universities, he added.