Spectre of Sulu incursion still looms large over east Sabah’s economic sector

Spectre of Sulu incursion still looms large over east Sabah’s economic sector

KOTA KINABALU — Sabah’s east coast region’s economic and investment sector is still affected by the incursion of Sulu terrorists and subsequent battle in Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Sabah, more than a decade ago, former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee said.

He noted that investors, especially from Japan and South Korea, were not allowed to enter certain areas due to travel advisories issued by their countries, adding that as Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) Sabah Sdn Bhd chairman, he personally saw these investors showing that the advisories classified the region as a black area.

“I told them that the area is safe to invest there, but they still do not want to go there.

“The west coast like Kota Kinabalu is their target. So, we see that even though the incident in Lahad Datu was long ago, it still has an impact on the economy of Sabah, especially the business and investment sector,” he told Bernama.

In February 2013, the nation was rocked by news of intrusion by Sulu armed terrorists who had entered Malaysian waters in stages at Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu.

A subsequent shootout occurred in Kampung Tanduo on March 1, in which 10 Malaysian security personnel and 68 Sulu terrorists were killed. The conflict was declared over on April 10, 2013.

Yong, currently serving as an appointed Sabah assemblyman, said that currently the security level in Sabah was under control and satisfactory, especially with the setting up of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom).

“Despite the high level of security in Sabah, we know that the state, especially on the east coast, is still threatened by outside elements. That is why we’re still imposing curfews at night because ESSCom is unable to control security due to limited assets.

“Therefore, I suggest that the government view this matter seriously and further strengthen ESSCom so that there is no longer a need to implement curfew,” he said.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Kunak assemblyman Norazlinah Arif urged the government to improve the security system in Sabah, especially in the Eastern Sabah Safe Zone (ESSZone), immediately, and ensure the rapid growth of the state’s economic sector.

“The government has spent a lot of money to fight the claims of those claiming to be Sulu heirs and it would be better if this money is spent to improve security in Sabah to a level that can convince the people and foreign investors,” he said.

Former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia stated that while security in Sabah was not threatened with the presence of the ESSCom, the influx of illegal immigrants was still continuing and no solution had been found.

The former Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department said that if the influx of illegal immigrants continues, it could pose a security threat, as some of them could be terrorists who are infiltrating the state, as was the case in the past.

“There must be a solution for the influx with cooperation from all parties. The Sabah government must find methods to address this matter, such as providing them with documents to know their whereabouts, and strict monitoring in the workforce in the state,” he explained.

– Bernama

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