16 Maret 2013

Defence Ministry Now Oversees Security in Sabah's Eastern Waters

16 Maret 2013

Royal Malaysian Navy will take over oberseeing in Sabah's waters from MMEA (photo : RMN)

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The Defence Ministry will take over from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) the overseeing of security only along the 1,400km eastern coastline of Sabah and in the waters off eastern Sabah, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

The overseeing of security in waters elsewhere in the country would continue to be carried out by the MMEA, which comes under the Prime Minister's Department, he said in a telephone interview on the "Malaysia Hari Ini" (Malaysia Today) programme over TV3.

He said the decision was made to coordinate operations along the border in the waters of Malaysia and the Philippines.

He also said that it could not be ascertained at the moment whether the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) covering an east coast belt of Sabah from Kudat to Tawau would be temporary or permanent.

The Rajang Area Security Command (RASCOM) established in Sarawak at one time was removed after the threat from the communist insurgency was no longer there, he said.

"Let's hope that the (Sulu intrusion) situation in Sabah can be resolved as quickly as possible," he said.

Sulu terrorists, holed up in Kampung Tanduo, Sabah, since Feb 12, killed eight policemen on March 1 and 2 in the village and in Kampung Simunul, Semporna, prompting the government to launch the "Ops Daulat" offensive which has resulted in 56 Sulu terrorists killed.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the setting up of ESSCOM after a visit to the operations command of the offensive in Lahad Datu.

Ahmad Zahid also said that the army's two Agusta Westland AW109 twin-engine eight-seater multi-role helicopters brought to the Felda Sahabat 16 plantation near the operations zone yesterday would be equipped to launch air-to-ground attacks.

"We will undertake more aggressive assaults, as a short-term measure, should there be terrorists who refuse to lay down arms. In the future, several multi-role attack helicopters will be stationed permanently in the ESSCOM area once it has been officially established," he said.

Besides the helicopters, 12 Adnan armoured combat vehicles and gunboats of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) are also expected to arrive in stages.

Meanwhile, Director-General of Education Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said in a telephone interview that the Sabah Education Department had introduced a counselling programme for teachers and students affected by the Sulu intrusion.

Counselling teams had gone to the classes set up at the temporary relocation centres.

"The programme was introduced to calm the teachers and students and enable them continue with their education activities," he said.

Abd Ghafar said that the teachers and students were in high spirits although three schools - Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Tanjung Labian, SK Lok Buani and SK Fajar Harapan - remained closed due to the offensive.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong said yesterday that the students of the three schools could attend classes at any other school for the time being.


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