Sabah security – smoke and mirrors

Friday, 11 April 2014

Base on feedback from resort operators in Semporna, there seem to be no security boats or speed boats that are permanently stationed at the beaches of some of the resort islands.

KOTA KINABALU: An opposition Sabah lawmaker today says the Federal Cabinet, Barisan Nasional members of Parliament from the ESSZONE area are to blame for the recent kidnapping in Semporna.

Wilfred Bumburing said the entire Federal Cabinet Ministers under Prime Minister Najib Razak can be blamed for the recent kidnapping that took place at the Singamata Resort in Semporna, as they had failed to ensure security in the coast of Sabah.

The Tamparuli assemblyman disclosed that he had been informed that repeated requests by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) for reinforcement, including additional manpower and resources had received lukewarm response from the government.

He added that the Federal government seemed to be dragging their feet on a legitimate security request.

“These information is supported by past newspaper reports where ESSCOM Director General Datuk Mohammad Mentek had requested many times since last year for additional manpower (of security forces) and assets such as boats or speed boats or even pump boat depending on the location of the resort islands in Semporna, but the federal government kept on dilly dallying on the matter,” Bumburing said in a statement.

He further pointed out that only recently, Public Service Department (PSC) officials visited some of the resort islands in Semporna to see for themselves “the situation on the ground”, but until now there is still no firm commitment to the request.

“I hereby categorically hold all Members of Parliament, including the Kalabakan MP Datuk Ghapur Salleh, (and those) 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.

Base on feedback from resort operators in Semporna, there seem to be no security boats or speed boats that are permanently stationed at the beaches of some of the resort islands.

For example, there seemed to be no security boat permanently stationed in 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 said that in order for security to be effective, the authorities must at least “show their presence” within the waters off Semporna.

He said the entire ESSCOM structure should be linked in a joint-chain of command involving all security forces and placed under ESSCOM unlike now with the security structure being obviously chaotic.

“Every unit seems to function individually. It seem to me that ESSCOM is just a think-tank body. Nothing more, said Bumburing who said the command should be given more authority in order to function effectively.

He said that he believed the ESSCOM Director General, who is a local and fully understand what needs to be done to improve the security in the state, is being made a scape goat for a disastrous policy by the government.

“I have been made to understand that mainland areas including Tanduo in Lahad Datu seem to be under control,” said Bumburing showing how the authorities had successfully clamped down in these areas.

The state assemblyman suggested that the post of a Deputy Director General of ESSCOM, either held by the police or the army personnel, be created as soon as possible to help beef up security, especially in terms of intelligence gathering in the ESSZONE areas.

He also proposed that the federal government consider appointing Sabahans as district police chiefs in all 10 districts within ESSZONE as they would be more aware and concerned about security threats in their home state.


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