Abu Sayyaf encounters show it’s time for Sabah to get long-overdue security assets, says former CM Yong


KOTA KINABALU: It is time to give Sabah the additional security assets promised back in 2013, says former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee (pic).

He said this includes basing seven battalions of security personnel in the state, the acquisition of advanced sea patrol boats and other security assets for the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

The Esszone covers areas up to three nautical miles off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran.

Announcements about additional security assets were made after the 2013 Tanduo conflict, where armed intruders from the Philippines encroached into Sabah via Lahad Datu and waged a war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Yong, who is a nominated assemblyman, said other key assets that Sabah requires include a full-fledged maritime enforcement base in Lahad Datu that is long overdue, as it is the home base of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

He said this base, under the jurisdiction of the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency, can supplement the efforts to combat cross-border crimes in Sabah.

He made this call on Wednesday (May 19) following recent successes by state security forces in arresting or killing Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Beaufort.

Yong said this achievement would go a long way towards deterring potential intruders from trying to enter Sabah.

“I am sure Malaysians are grateful that our security forces such as the police and Esscom have nipped this terrorist cell in Beaufort in the bud, ” he said.

“It came as a surprise when we were told that terrorists were hiding in Beaufort because the district in southwest Sabah is far from the Esszone on the east coast, ” he said.

Nevertheless, Yong said, it is also likely that there are still members and supporters of the ASG lying low in Sabah as acknowledged by the police.

He said locals, especially those living near squatter colonies, must play a more active role in informing authorities about the presence of suspicious individuals so that security forces can take the necessary action.

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