Be careful not to stray across border, Sarawak longhouse villagers told

Azlan Othman

Sarawak longhouse villagers living near the border of Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia have been reminded to be more careful and avoid straying across the international boundary when hunting or gathering jungle produce.

Mulu Assemblyman Dato Gerawat Gala said this is to prevent them from being detained by the authorities in the two countries for illegal entry, Malaysian newspapers reported.

“I wish to remind all our longhouse residents living near our international boundary with Brunei and Indonesia not to take any risk of straying across our international boundary whenever they need to hunt or gather jungle produce.

“It is safer to avoid hunting or gathering jungle produce near the border areas,” he said, following the release of four hunters from Marudi who were detained by Brunei authorities on April 16 for straying into the Sultanate while hunting in the jungles around the Sarawak-Brunei border.

Gerawat said it is also important for the border enforcement agencies to create awareness among communities living near the border about the location of the international boundary, as well as to maintain border patrol to stop both Malaysians and citizens of neighbouring countries from straying across the international boundary.

 

On the four hunters, Gerawat said they were detained by Brunei authorities patrolling along the border and quarantined for 14 days until April 30, before being placed under police remand in Bandar Seri Begawan pending further investigations.

“During their detention in Brunei, I enlisted the help of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to inform and brief the Malaysian Embassy in Brunei about the four detainees.

“I had also requested the (Malaysian) embassy to help deal with the Brunei authorities and secure the release of the four detainees. Wisma Putra in Kuala Lumpur was also very much involved in the process to secure the release,” he added.

According to Gerawat, he had briefed the families of the detainees through their Tuai Rumah (longhouse head), assuring them of the detainees’ safety and informing them that steps were being taken to secure their release.

Apart from providing the families with cash assistance through his service centre in Marudi, Gerawat said he also secured the services of an experienced Brunei lawyer to represent the four detainees when they were produced in court.