New enforcement team to fight rabies in Sarawak

By Emma Victoria

SARAWAK’s long and porous international borders needs to be monitored to prevent rabid dogs from being brought into the state and compounding the rabies outbreak.

To secure the borders, the state government has established the Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET) which will collaborate with various agencies to tackle the issue of rabid dogs entering the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg said the cabinet approved the establishment of the team under the state security and enforcement unit (UKPN).

“With the setting up of IBET that provides space for the various agencies to collaborate under UKPN, we can effectively pool resources together to stop rabid dogs from entering the state,” he said.

UKPN had played a leading role in coordinating operations to combat rabies throughout Sarawak.

“The eight phases of operations started in Telok Melano in March last year and ended in Lawas in November. The operations have successfully vaccinated 26,000 dogs and put to sleep another 11,000 dogs,” he said during a special address in conjunction of UKPN’s 3rd anniversary today.

The UKPN, which was set up three years ago, has also significantly impacted and reduced illegal logging activities in the state, especially in the Batang Rajang basin.

Abang Johari said the UKPN’s Ops Jongkong covering mainly the Batang Rajang area was a good example of a well-conducted operation to thwart unlawful extraction of timber that can lead to environmental degradation and loss of state revenue.

“UKPN has also opened 25 investigation papers, seized about 6,000 logs, 13 heavy machinery and three lorries while 76 people have been charged in court,” he said.

“Over the past three years, we have seen UKPN being involved largely in prevention of illegal logging and sand dredging, ensuring food security, physical security activities, Community Emergency Response Team awareness and training, and many major awareness programmes and trainings,” he added.

“This year will see continuous efforts towards the inception of the Sarawak Coast Guard (SCG) Division which is now at the stage of asset procurement and personnel recruitment.

“SCG’s establishment is to address various issues including encroachment of foreign and local fishing vessels as well as the loss of revenue from our vast sea resources,” he said.

Abang Johari also said UKPN played an active role as part of the State Disaster Management Committee in the fight against Covid-19 infection.