KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR) – Some 1,995 illegal immigrants have been flushed out as they tried to enter Sabah waters off Tawau since April this year.
Chief of Staff (Operations) for Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Laksamana (M) Hamid Mohd Amin said that those caught were trying to sneak in via illegal sea routes along the coast from Mile 1 to Mile 5 of Jalan Apas in Tawau.
He said that the illegal immigrants were either deported or turned back during operations under Ops Cegah PATI (OCP) between April and October as part of efforts to check on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“Our action now is to deport them or turn then back immediately as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 from neighbouring countries, ” he said in a statement yesterday. He said successes in tackling the problem of illegal immigrants slipping into the Tawau area are due to the good working relationship and coordinated operations by all agencies in the district.
“OCP Laut was activated in April and it involved integrated multi-agency operations specifically to stop the illegal entry of foreigners from neighbouring countries, ” he added.
He said three vessels and eight boats involving nine officers and 89 men have been deployed in the area to check on illegal immigrants entering the state.
The mainland of Tawau is a 10-minute boat ride away from the Malaysia-Indonesia shared island of Sebatik which is used by illegal immigrants to slip into the southwestern Sabah town that borders Kalimanatan.