KOTA KINABALU: Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan today urged the federal government to address the infiltration by terror groups into Sabah following the recent arrest of 13 terror suspects in interior Tambunan and Semporna.
In a statement today, Jeffrey, who is also the Keningau MP and Tambunan assemblyman, questioned whether the arrest is a sign that the security of the state is under increasing threat.
He said the arrests announced by Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun were unnerving as those arrested were either members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Maute, or Royal Sulu Force (RSF) terror groups.
“Thirteen suspects is considerably a significant number caught during just one swoop.
“Why have so many suddenly infiltrated our borders? Are our borders so porous?
“The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) was set up to prevent such incursions by terror groups. Illegal immigrants are one thing but terror groups are not something we should gamble with.
“We certainly do not want a repeat of Tanduo, which put the security and sovereignty of Sabah under threat,” he said.
In February 2013, Sulu gunmen encroached into isolated Kampung Tanduo, at Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu, to stake claims over Sabah.
The event saw 10 security personnel killed, while over 56 Sulu gunmen were shot dead. Six civilians also died.
Jeffrey also raised the question whether news reports of the state government being in favour of giving documents to those of Filipino ancestry were the reason for the sudden influx of terror suspects into Sabah.
Such reports, he said, may have become an incentive for those in the southern Philippines to come to Sabah by any means.
“We are not only attracting more illegal immigrants but also the dangerous kind.
“As such, we call on the federal government to put a stop to proposals to give documents to overnight immigrants, not just Filipinos but others as well.”
He said considering such a proposal, when there are still syndicates selling dubious MyKads, would only compound the security problem.
Jeffrey proposed that the government focus on efforts to stamp out such syndicates.
“We also call on Esscom to beef up security and put a ban on all modes of transport that allow illegals, including terror groups, to easily use our waters.
“We are a nation made up of multi-racial and multi-religious communities that live in peace and harmony.
“We have no objection to living and working with Filipinos or other migrants who were born and have stayed in Sabah for decades.
“While we embrace our unity in diversity, it must not be done at expense of our security and sovereignty,” he concluded.