KANGAR – Security at one of the rat trails on the Malaysia-Thailand border known as the Syed Omar trail here will be tightened, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.
He said he had been observing the unfenced four-kilometre trail border stretch which passes through forest reserves of both countries for the past 20 years.
“You can run off with people or even an elephant there, because there is no fencing and it is the fastest route to the bottom (of a hill there). But having to travel on a village path (too) is among the major obstacles, so there is less smuggling there,” he told reporters when met at a technical and vocational school carnival here yesterday.
Bernama, prior to this, had managed to visit the area where this trail is located after being tipped off by villagers who claimed there were several rat trails on the Malaysia-Thai border on the Perlis side.
There were also rat trails in Felcra Lubuk Sireh, Felda Mata Ayer, Ladang Tebu Chuping, Wang Kelian and Bukit Batu Putih.
These rat trails are said to be among the easiest and fastest to be traversed because they are not fenced, and the surrounding hills take only an hour to climb. The distance from the foothills in Kampung Syed Omar, Bintong, here, to Kampung Puju, in Thailand is just about two kilometres.
Asked if the construction of fences would be suggested for the Syed Omar rat trail, Shahidan, who is also National Security Council chairman, said the matter needed a deep study because it involved two countries and the forest reserve eco-system.
“If they deem it suitable, by all means, but in my opinion, the route through the forest must be controlled not fenced, as it will lead to other problems,” he said.
On the need to set up a control post, he said it was also not very suitable due to the size of the forest in question.
What is crucial, he said is the cooperation of uniformed volunteer bodies and villagers with the government.
Shahidan said he preferred efforts to boost the services of uniformed volunteer bodies such as Rela, auxiliary police, Civil Defence Corps and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, to eradicate smuggling activities.
“We want them to join, they will be paid allowances too. Security cannot be left to the security forces alone. If the people cooperate with the government, the nation will be more secure,” he said.
Shahidan said he had also identified several inprovements for border security control and would discuss the matter with Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said the improvements included stationing volunteer uniformed members in Wang Kelian and also the Syed Omar rat trail. – BERNAMA