By : HIEW KING CHEU
PRIME Minister Datu Seri Najib described the intrusion by Sulu terrorists in Lahad Datu as a 'wake-up call' for the BN government and there is the need to be better prepared to face external threats.
He stressed that the government would not take security for granted. That means the government was sleeping all this while, and only now they woke up.
The cries of Sabah for many decades had been continuously ignored by the federal government. They woke up only when it is already too late. Preventive measures rather than 'cure' should have been taken long time ago by the federal government. Why only now?
Najib on March 26, 2013 announced the establishment of the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (ESSZONE) to provide the basis needs for the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) comprising 10 districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau. Six police stations and three more customs, immigration and quarantine stations are to be established within a month in the ESSCOM area.
We are told that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) will be responsible for the security along the newly-created ESSCOM. Mindef takes over from the all-powerful Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) which had been responsible for security in Sabah.
It appeared that the reason why Malaysian security forces have been slow in responding to the Lahad Datu intrusion may be more due to the fact that the PMD was solely responsible for security in Sabah. In 2010, the PMD employed 43,544 people and had a budget of RM 3.9 billion.
With the recent security problems in Lahad Datu, Eastern Sabah covering the 10 districts had been specially assigned ESSCOM set up under the Preservation of Public Security Regulations 2013 and chaired by the Sabah Chief Minister. So, who would be responsible for security in the rest of Sabah not covered by ESSCOM i.e. Western Sabah?
In any case, the PMD with such a huge budget has no business getting involved directly in security matters, internal and external, except through the National Security Council (NSC) headed by the Prime Minister. Taking the announcement on ESSCOM at face value, it seems that not everything is above board.
Under the Federal Constitution, the Prime Minister has no legislative power, not even in an emergency situation. Apparently, the power lies with the Yang Di Pertuan Agong and Parliament.
It was mentioned by the ex-Lahad Datu Police Chief, Kamis Daming, that the federal leaders had never entertained the suggestions and requests for upgrading security in the district.
The excuses of ‘lack of budget or no allocations’ are lame excuses when RM3.9 billion in 2010 was allocated to PMD for security. This displays a lackadaisical attitude of the federal government to the macro security problems in Sabah.
he issues mentioned by him are basic issues that included security and personnel beef-up, scarcity of good condition equipment and vehicles (four wheel drives), petrol boats, fuel supply, good condition and sufficient living quarters or barracks within the police compound, funds for maintenance and repairs, et cetera.
It is time for the people to think carefully how Sabah security is being looked after by the government. There are numerous illegal immigrants coming into Sabah daily, and these have been going on for decades. These have caused serious dangers to our livelihood, peace and order; and must not be tolerated.
The outcome of the Royal Commission of Investigation (RCI) on illegal immigrants will provide us with some interesting answers to many lingering questions and the actions we have to take to ensure that such problems will never recur in Sabah. The way we look at the move by Najib to establish the ESSCOM is just like “start to build a toilet when you have a bad stomach ache”, thanks or no thanks!