KOTA KINABALU : With the east coast of Sabah being turned into a military command, Sabahans must brace themselves for the long haul in overcoming the security threats faced by Sabah, said former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.
"Security operations of this nature can last up to 20 years, or one generation, because of the inherently delicate tasks of identifying who the real enemies are in this troubled region of East ASEAN, particularly the Southern Philippines," he noted.
He cited for instance, in the Southern Philippines, the Moros fought the Spanish conquerors for 300 years and then the Americans for 50 years before having to fight their Northern rulers in Manila for another 50 years until the present day, without any sign of a long lasting solution in spite of peace agreements like the Tripoli accord of 1976 and with the MNLF in 1996 and with MILF in 2012.
He told the reporters this when approached at the mobile service booth of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) in Gaya Street here Sunday, when asked for comment on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's announcement in Lahad Datu last Friday, on the establishment of a special security area (SSA) in Sabah to safeguard the sovereignty and security of the state's east coast.
Najib said the Sabah Special Security Area encompassed the districts of Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, Sandakan, Semporna and Lahad Datu.
Yong who is also President of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) pointed out for all intents and purposes, the East Coast Security Area is an "Eastern Command" that by its nature is meant for the long haul like the Sarawak Rajang Security Command (RASCOM) in the 1970s to combat communists and Philippines's Southern Command to combat separatists.
He added that this is a slap in the face of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein who had assured the people that the intruders are not militant and not violent.
He also opined that the Sulu-led armed intrusion from the Southern Philippines has crossed a point of no return.
"The use of our air force fighter jets bombing enemies within Sabah's shores, the first ever in Sabah, is a turning point in how Malaysia has decided to face this security threat," he said.
The deployment to Sabah of five battalions of security forces and an unannounced number of support personnel and equipment confirms his view that Malaysia's security forces have the capability to repel this incursion, he further noted.
Meanwhile, he also expressed regret that four weeks into the conflict, none of the district security committees have been activated.
"Whereas the State government can only churn out rhetorical statements like "things under control" and "do not listen to rumours", thousands of local Sabahan villagers around ground zero at Lahad Datu have become war refugees with insufficient food, medical help and shelter.
"It seems that our government leaders are at a loss in handling the current crisis arising from the conflict at Lahad Datu," he said. (SAPP Media)