Ban on pump boats must stay, says retired general

Retired brigadier-general Arshad Raji says a lot of resources are needed to guard Sabah’s coastline.

PETALING JAYA: A retired brigadier-general has urged Sabah not to lift the ban on pump boats as the state’s wide borders still were not completely safe.

Pump boats, notorious for their speed and silence, were banned a few years ago after numerous cross-border crimes and kidnappings along Sabah’s East Coast.

Speaking to FMT, National Patriots Association (Patriot) president Mohd Arshad Raji said there had to be good security reasons why the authorities had earlier felt it was right to ban pump boats.

“Sabah’s coastline is very broad and some areas like Pulau Bangi are very close to southern Philippines.”

He was commenting on a Borneo Post report that Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state might lift the ban on pump boats which were used by fishermen.

Shafie said he would discuss the matter with the police.

Arshad, who once served as deputy commander of the Royal Malaysian Army’s 5th Brigade in Sabah, said he did not believe Sabah’s east coast was fully secure yet.

He reasoned this was why Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said the Eastern Sabah Security Command would remain and that the dusk-till-dawn curfew in the waters off the area would continue.

“So I think it’s better that the pump boats remain banned, at least until Sabah’s borders are safe again.”

He added, however, that completely securing such a wide border would require a lot of resources which might not be available now.

According to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, 59 people were kidnapped in waters off Sabah’s east coast between March 2016 and August 2017.

Of 59 people kidnapped from boats off Sabah, 15 still being held captive