TAWAU: Construction will begin this year on a RM646.15 million military camp in Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu to improve security in Sabah, defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein said today.
“In our efforts to enhance the army’s capability and readiness when dealing with threats, the camp will have a new army brigade with an infantry battalion troop,” he said in a Bernama report.
Measures to strengthen the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) on security in the Sulu Sea, Sulawesi and Sabah’s east coast will be the focus of a meeting between the defence ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, he added.
Hishammuddin said he had earlier expressed his desire to strengthen cooperation between the three countries’ armed forces through the TCA to his counterparts.
“A meeting between the three defence ministers will be held on Jan 27 to talk about this.
“Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor has also voiced his wish to enhance security. It is something I will convey to the Philippine and Indonesian defence ministers,” he told a press conference after visiting Kukusan Camp here today.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said security forces were able to handle threats such as kidnappings for ransom, piracy, smuggling, entry of illegal immigrants and militants throughout 2021.
“Last year, with the collaboration of the police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), we managed to seize drugs worth RM3.34 million, contraband cigarettes and controlled items (RM1.38 million), detain 154 illegal immigrants and seize 393 boats.
“There were also no new reports of kidnapping on the east coast of Sabah last year,” he said.
In addition, he said eight battalions were currently guarding Sabah’s east coast, where four battalions are operational and another four are on standby to deal with possible threats.
“We have deployed 2,419 naval officers and crew at the Teluk Sepanggar and KD Sri Semporna naval bases. We also have four patrol vessel units, two fast attack craft units and two submarines on standby to protect the sovereignty of Sabah waters.
“As for the air force, 1,283 officers and members are based in Labuan and ready to be deployed along with nine units of Hawk fighter aircraft, four EC 725 helicopter units and a C130 unit,” he said.
There are currently more than 8,000 members of the armed forces in the state, he added.