Chinese panda prioritized over Esscom needs?

Friday, 11 April 2014

“Ironically, the federal government is reported to have spent RM25 million to buy rare Chinese Panda’s from China and yet they are unable to upgrade the needed maritime assets to be used by the MMEA in the East of Sabah,”


KOTA KINABALU: Tamparuli assemblyman Wilfred Bumburing has questioned the federal government’s priorities citing the quick RM25 million purchase of the rare Chinese Panda but “dilly-dallying” over the urgent need to sufficiently equip the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) with security assets, leading to the armed kidnapping of Chinese tourists holidaying in Sabah.

Bumburing said he had been reliably told that requests by the Esscom for reinforcement, including deployment for additional manpower and more assets received lukewarm response from the federal government

He said the information received was supported by past newspaper reports where Esscom director general Mohammad Mentek had requested many times since last year for additional manpower (of security personnel) and assets such as boats or speed boats, or even pump boats, depending on the location of the resort islands in Semporna.

“But the federal government kept dilly dallying on the matter. And only recently Public Service Department (PSC) officials visited some of the resort islands in Semporna to see for themselves the situation on the ground, and until now there is still no firm commitment to the request, ” said Bumburing, who is also Movement for Change Sabah (APS) president, in a statement issued at the State Legislative Assembly sitting yesterday.

The former Upko deputy president was commenting on the April 2 kidnapping of a China national and a Filipino worker from the Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna.

Bumburing further claimed that feedback gathered from resort operators in Semporna revealed that there seemed to be no security boats or speed boats that are permanently stationed at the beaches of some of the resort islands, for example the Mataking island, the last easternmost island in the Semporna district bordering international waters.

“How do we expect our security forces there to be able to immediately intercept or pursue the elusive kidnappers’ boat without any boat of their own? Definitely, we can’t ask them to swim in pursuit!” he quipped.

He stressed that in order for maximum security to be effective, the authorities must at least show their “omni-presence,” that is, in terms of security assets, within the waters off Semporna to scare away would-be kidnappers.

“Ironically, the federal government is reported to have spent RM25 million to buy rare Chinese Panda’s from China and yet they are unable to upgrade the needed maritime assets to be used by the MMEA in the East of Sabah,” he said.

He blamed the latest kidnapping incident on the federal government for not being sincere in ensuring optimum security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), particularly Semporna.

“The entire Federal Cabinet Ministers under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak are partly to be blame for the recent kidnapping incident in Singamata Resort off Semporna, for not putting a sincere and wholehearted effort to ensure optimum security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), particularly Semporna.

“I also hereby categorically hold all members of Parliment, including the Kalabakan MP Ghapur Salleh, within the Esszone areas as being equally responsible for not putting much effort in pushing for a speedier deployment of manpower and assets to secure Semporna, a kidnapping-prone area in Esszone,” he said.

Mentek ‘a scapegoat’

Bumburing further stressed that the entire Esscom structure should be revamped. He said a new system should be established where all the various units and departments under Esscom are duty-bound to carry out joint-intelligent activities as well as share a joint-chain of command involving the Police, Navy, Air Force and other units in the military service.

“Right now there are none. Every unit functions individually. It seems to me that Esscom is just a think-tank body that functions to “coordinate” the various security units. Esscom should be given more authority in order to function effectively.

“All these show that the entire Federal cabinet or even Sabah State Cabinet and all BN Members of Parliament in Esszone are not really sincere to put in place an optimum security arrangement within Esszone, especially in Semporna,” he reiterated.

Bumburing also defended Mentek saying that as a local resident and a strategist who knew the ins and outs of Semporna, he had done his best within his authority in requesting for additional manpower and assets, but who was now unfortunately made a scapegoat.

“Finger pointing and blaming someone else is not a solution to this tricky and unique problem. I have been made to understand that mainland areas including Tanduo in Lahad Datu seemed to be under control,” he noted.

He went on to suggest the creation of the post of deputy director-general of Esscom as soon as possible, to be held either by the police or the army, so as to help beef up security, especially in terms of an intelligence gathering network in the Esszone areas.

“I also propose that the federal government consider appointing Sabahans as district police chief in all 10 districts within Esszone,” he added.

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