Sabah sea gypsies get lecture from cops on dangers of fish bombing

Lahad Datu marine police talking to the community of sea gypsies, also known as Bajau Laut or Palauh, on the dangers of fishing using bombs and poison.

KOTA KINABALU: After the fatal fish-bombing incident in Semporna earlier this month, marine police reached out to the community of sea gypsies in neighbouring Lahad Datu district to educate them against using illegal means to catch fish.

Sabah Marine Police Region 4 commander Mohamad Ali Pajeri said some 40 sea gypsies, also known as Bajau Laut or Palauh, from Tanah Timbus Tamaco, attended the community policing programme today.

The talk was held at the Lahad Datu marine police base.

The Palauh are a nomadic community of seafarers, most of whom are stateless. They live mainly on boats out at sea.

“The programme was meant to raise awareness among the Palauh community not to be involved in blast fishing or use poison and spears.

“It is also aimed at advising the community to stay away from other criminal activities such as drugs and kidnap-for-ransom,” he said after the event.

Some 40 sea gypsies, also known as Bajau Laut or Palauh, attending the community policing programme in Lahad Datu.

Ali said the marine police hoped to keep the seas safer through the programme, adding that they also urged the Palauh community to inform the police of any illegal activities at sea.

Two divers from China – Zhao Zhong and Xu Yingjie, both 26 – and a local diving instructor, Ab Zainal Abdu, 30, were killed by blasts from a fish bomb off Pulau Kalapuan in Semporna on July 5.

Police arrested a 24-year-old boatman and his assistant, 23, following the incident.

Women and children from the sea gypsy community were also in attendance.

Police also roped in 10 people, including sea gypsies, for questioning.

A group of sea gypsies were kidnapped by 10 gunmen, believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf militant group, off Lahad Datu on June 18.

Police said the incident occurred well away from the shore, near the international border off Felda Sahabat. Those abducted, aged between 17 and 60, were not Malaysians, they added.