Ministry sets up brigade to beef up border security

Hishammuddin (right) pins the badge on Private Nor Sharani Shamsul Kamal to mark the latter’s promotion to Lance Corporal during the minister’s visit to the Joint Border Post of Malaysian Armed Forces-Indonesian National Army near Lundu. — Bernama photo

Hishammuddin (right) pins the badge on Private Nor Sharani Shamsul Kamal to mark the latter’s promotion to Lance Corporal during the minister’s visit to the Joint Border Post of Malaysian Armed Forces-Indonesian National Army near Lundu. — Bernama photo

LUNDU: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has announced the setup of the Malaysian Army’s five-battalion-strong 31st Border Brigade, which will be based in Bintulu, to tighten border and national security.

The formation of this brigade would strengthen control and security along the borders of Sabah and Sarawak—Kalimantan, Indonesia, stretching 2,019.5km, he said at a press conference after visiting the Joint Border Post of Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) and Indonesian National Army (TNI) at Biawak nere here yesterday.

“The setup of the 31st Border Brigade is another step by the Defence Ministry to tighten Malaysia’s border security,” Hishammuddin said, adding that the brigade would also assist the Royal Malaysia Police, local authorities and other agencies to look after public safety and order during security incidents or disasters.

The brigade will handle its own staffing needs once it gets the go-ahead from the Public Service Department and 1,021 members of the Malaysian Territorial Army will be absorbed as regulars.

The brigade will have a staff-strength of 5, 626 personnel when fully commissioned with a big number from Sarawak for their ‘local knowledge’.

Hishammuddin said the brigade would also be tasked with curbing illegal entry, human trafficking, smuggling and other criminal activities coming from across the border. He added that one of the threats the new force would look out for would be infiltration of ‘Daesh’ or ‘ISIS’ members from across the border.

Hishammuddin called on uniform bodies, state authorities, local communities and their leaders to support the brigade by cooperating with its personnel.

Later, the minister went to Kampung Jangkar to visit the ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme, under which the army had set up Civic Action Teams (Cats) to provide basic medical support for the people in the area.

Hishammuddin was accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister and Mas Gading MP Anthony Nogeh Gumbek, Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina, Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Dr Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Malaysian Army chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, Eastern Zone Officer-In-Command (GOC) Lt Gen Datuk Mohd Zaki Mokhtar and First Infantry Division Commander Major General Datuk Stephen Mundaw, during the visit.

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