KUALA LUMPUR: As many as 319 vessels and 1,465 land vehicles, estimated to be worth RM306 million, were among those seized during the implementation of Op Benteng at the country’s borders from May 1 last year until Feb 26, said senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Ismail, who is also the defence minister, said that during the same period, a total of 12,087 illegal immigrants and 922 skippers were also arrested.
“The value of the seizure and the number of arrests demonstrate the success in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 involving illegal immigrants.
“Op Benteng also strengthened security at the country’s borders besides combating cross-border crime,” he said when appearing as a guest on RTM 1’s “Selamat Pagi Malaysia (SPM)” programme this morning.
Op Benteng – an integrated operation involving the the police, armed forces, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Malaysian border security agency (Aksem) as well as other security agencies – introduced in line with the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) to effectively curb the transmission of the pandemic and the influx of illegal immigrants.
Ismail Sabri said that despite the many constraints faced due to the pandemic, defending the country’s sovereignty has always been a priority for the ministry and the armed forces.
He explained that during the efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, the armed forces were involved not only in security aspects, but also covered logistics and assets assistance to the health ministry.
“The armed forces created field hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients as well as aviation services to bring medical staff to the affected states and to deliver screening samples, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, to laboratories in the peninsula,” he said.
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