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Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says the government has accepted a proposal to set up a body tasked with safeguarding the country’s gateways. - NSTP/Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor.

PUTRAJAYA: A border agency will be formed to oversee and strengthen security along national borders, said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said the government has accepted a proposal to set up a body tasked with safeguarding the country’s gateways.

Muhyiddin said the task of managing the national borders was being shouldered by 28 bodies, associations and companies, which unfortunately, had contributed to the weak management of border matters.

“If possible, we want issues related to the setting up of the border agency to be settled and finalised within the next two years.

“The matter has been discussed with the Home Ministry’s secretary-general and I will push to speed up its establishment,” he told Bernama recently.

He said the proposal to set up the agency would undergo a six-month-to-one-year study.

The study would look into finance, human resource, logistics and the relevant laws.

Based on the decision of a cabinet committee that was established on July 3 to review the proposal, the ministry had been tasked with conducting a study covering three main domains, namely land, air and sea.

The ministry, he said, has expressed willingness to learn from the United States' experience in setting up such agency.

Muhyiddin said upon establishment, the body would enhance the efficiency of checking processes via "single clearance mechanism" to improve security and trade facilitation.

The government was serious in its effort to strengthen border security. It was made one of the core areas in the Security and Public Order Policy (DKKA), launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last October.

This year, the focus of Home Ministry was on the management of congestion at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building in Johor Baru, Johor.

For this, Muhyiddin said the government has formed a special committee, chaired by him.

To resolve the problem of congestion, the committee had come up with 23 initiatives which would be implemented in three phases - short, medium and long-term - including renovating and improving the CIQ building, providing additional security equipment at the entrance such as the Malaysian Automated Clearance System (MACS) and M-Bike, as well as mobilising officers from less congested counters to those which are, and implementing contraflow system at vehicle arrival lanes.

The government had also approved RM85 million for the purpose, as announced in the 2020 Budget on Oct 11.

The government had extended the implementation of 24-hour operations for heavy vehicles and cargo at the CIQ complex in Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah and Danok, Songkhla for nine more months until June 17 next year.

The extension of the 24-hour operations, which was initially for a three-month trial period from June 18 until Sept 17, which was historic for the two neighbouring nations, was expected to increase foreign investment, support industrialisation efforts and boost economic growth.

The CIQ complex in Bukit Kayu Hitam, which was built at a cost of RM385 million and was fully operational last August, is equipped with an "anti-climb" security fence around the entire area and monitored by about 300 high-definition closed-circuit cameras, while cargo scanner machines have been set up at all heavy vehicle lanes to ensure thorough checks are conducted on all goods entering the country.

Muhyiddin said the ministry had not discount the possibility of using drones to tackle security issues in Sabah waters and border areas.

He said the creation of the Eastern Sabah Security Command has contributed to the strengthening of the border security.

However, as the sea borders along Sabah waters are too long, it require more efficient action in the future.

The use of drones is not new as the technology has been used by the Thai authorities to monitor its national borders.

Muhyiddin said the proposal to use drones to monitor borders was still at the discussion stage.

He hoped the government would provide allocations to enable the ministry to conduct test runs in key and critical areas along the national borders. -- Bernama

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