KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15, 2014:
Mangrove forests, conservationists and environmentalists will tell you, protect the nation’s coast from erosion and shelter it from extreme weather, including tsunamis.
Unfortunately, a former enforcement officer revealed, it also provides excellent cover for illegal immigrants who sneak into Malaysia’s shores with the help of Mother Nature.
The former enforcement officer turned forest activist, who did not wished to be named, told The Rakyat Post that illegal immigrants would take cover in mangrove forests, especially in Johor and Port Klang, Selangor, as authorities did not have the facilities small enough to track them in these jungles.
“It is even difficult for light to penetrate the foliage.”
The activists observed that over the past few years, more and more illegal immigrants had employed these tactics to enter Malaysia, with the help of syndicates.
Unfortunately, one way to get rid of the menace all together would be to clear the mangrove forests. But that solution is out of the question.
“This is something we cannot do.”
As it is, the activist points out, the mangrove forests in Peninsular Malaysia covered an estimated 108,970ha, or 17% of the 641,000ha mangrove forests in the whole country.
The majority of mangroves are found in Sabah and Sarawak.
The activist, however, suggested that enforcement agencies invest in assets that would allow its personnel to track down illegal immigrants in such areas, apart from raising greater awareness about this particular predicament.