KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today suggested placing security assets in locations prone to cross-border crimes instead of setting up base in non-strategic areas, in the wake of the latest kidnapping incident off the state.
“We need to place men where they are needed,” he told reporters after presenting the keynote address at the Forum on New Sabah event here.
“Not for political reasons but for national security. If we can do this, we can deter more cross-border crimes.”
He gave the example of the Lok Kawi army camp near Kota Kinabalu, saying there is no need for it.
He also referred to the vessels owned by security agencies such as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency which he said should be placed in districts such as Tawau, Semporna and Lahad Datu.
“Of course, the headquarters should not be stationed at the front line, but we must enhance the number of security personnel and presence in areas where such kidnappings occur,” he said.
The Star Online reported that gunmen with suspected links to the Abu Sayyaf group had kidnapped 10 crewmen from two fishing boats in waters close to the Tawi-Tawi islands off southern Philippines.
According to the report, the boats were believed to be heading to Semporna from Lahad Datu’s Tambisan waters when they were stopped by the gunmen in speedboats sometime after midnight today.
There were six people in the first fishing boat and 10 crewmen in the second. Those who were kidnapped are believed to be Filipinos.
The gunmen are believed to have fled towards Sitangkai island in the Philippines, located about 15 minutes’ boat ride from Tambisan.
When contacted, Sabah police chief Omar Mammah said they had yet to receive an official report although they are aware of the incident.
Shafie too said he was aware of the kidnapping and that those who were abducted are believed to be foreigners.
When asked about the Eastern Sabah Security Command or Esscom, he said he hoped restructuring would take place soon.
“The sooner the better,” he added.
“I have given my opinion to the authorities at the top level. This is to ensure that we are better equipped not only in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of intelligence so that we can better position ourselves.
“We want less talk and more action to ensure that we can catch these criminals,” he said, adding that he understands that the latest kidnapping does not involve Malaysians.