Tuesday, October 14, 2014

“Look Beyond ESSCOM for Sabah Security – Dr. Jeffrey”

Kota Kinabalu:    “The PM and the federal government should stop kidding themselves and stop pulling wool over Sabahans’ eyes on the security of Sabah.   ESSCOM is not a long-term solution to Sabah’s security and the RM660 million Budget allocation does not seriously reduce the security threats against Sabah" said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, commenting on the ESSCOM Budget.

The building of 2 camps and additional 1,280 personnel is perhaps the only addition to ESSCOM’s capability.  The emoluments and operating costs of the 1,280 personnel would probably only cost less than RM40-RM50 million ringgit.  

Minus this additional cost and the cost of the 2 camps, the bulk of the RM660 million would actually be emoluments and operating costs of the existing security personnel.   This is essentially paper shuffling of costs from their original bases to their ESSCOM bases in Sabah.  It is nothing new in this portion of the Budget allocation for ESSCOM.

Nevertheless, just putting up camps and additional security personnel is mere policing and not preventive enough to reduce security threats.

Similarly, imposing night to dawn curfew is a policing measure which has both pro and con.  It is not just only advantageous as pointed out by the authorities.  For example, it is a hindrance to the fishing and tourism industries and has an impact on Sabah’s economy.

ESSCOM or the overall security strategy for Sabah must incorporate and cover comprehensive and wide measures to protect Sabah.

High on the priority list must be a genuine solution to the illegal immigrants and the monster created by Project IC.  This monster and disease has already spread to the Peninsula as can be seen from the arrests of fake Sabah ICs of security guards, taxi drivers and others in the Peninsula. 

The wanton and dubious issuance of ICs and MyKads to foreigners must stop totally.    Based on reliable sources, while there may be a reduction of new ICs for Filipinos, it has increased for Bugis and Indonesians, Indians and Pakistanis.   Even a Bugis and Indian NGO are reportedly involved in assisting newcomers to obtain MyKads and recruiting them as Umno members and voters for hire.

If the track record of the Filipino Project IC holders is a yardstick, the new Bugis and Indonesians are ticking time-bombs.   It is only a matter of time before these new Malaysians recruited for political purposes explode with their own brand of problems, including the risk of imported IS militancy.   If the Defence Minister is to be believed, there is also the threat of IS militancy from these foreigners.

The threats is not just cross-border kidnappings for ransom, made worse by the authorities paying huge and handsome ransoms for release of the victims.   It has become a lucrative business with the kidnapping route a one-way route to their neigbouring country hideouts as those responsible are already enemies within with Malaysian ICs.

Therefore, there must be a concerted effort and additional measures to safeguard Sabah’s security in the long-term.    Some of these measures should include a Sabah IC and non-residents IC and Sabah’s own Homeland Security set-up.   Not to be excluded should be national and regional efforts to involve all groups not just regional factions like the Bangsa Moro Peace Framework and to develop the local economies of neighbouring countries bordering Sabah.  

With development and improving economies and security, their nationals will be minded to stay in the home countries rather than venture across the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas to find work in Sabah.   These measures will make Sabah safer and eventually there will be no necessity for ESSCOM.

Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan
Chairman, STAR Sabah
14 October 2014


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