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Losing 20,000 LPG cylinders to Sebatik
Published on: Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: At least 20,000 gas cylinders find their way to Sebatik Island on a monthly basis through valid permits issued by the relevant department and ministry, supposedly for the use of the 8,000 islanders there.

However, most of these gas cylinders would instead be smuggled into neighbouring countries through Nunukan and the Southern Philippines.

"The other day, I was told by an officer in Tawau that he just could not buy a gas cylinder. But in Sebatik Island, with its 1,241 households and 8,000 population, they have too many," said Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Commander DCP Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.

He said that according to a study done by the Performance Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu), each household would refill their gas cylinders seven times a year.

"But in Sebatik Island, we have 16 suppliers and each of them is given 1,500 gas cylinders to be taken to Sebatik a month for a grand total of 24,000 gas cylinders a month. On the island, there are 33 distribution stations. All of these for only 1,241 households.

"We wasted government money to give subsidy there when the money could have been used for the benefits of other Sabahans," he said.

Investigations by the security forces, he said, revealed that thousands of gas cylinders are just lying around in Batu Batu, allegedly to be brought over to Sebatik Island.


Instead, he said, the gas cylinders are taken to Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Petronas and Shell reported that they do not know the whereabouts of a million gas cylinders. A million! Can you imagine that? Where else could they be? In Nunukan. In the South Philippines.

"We must remember, if agencies are not aware, the society is not aware and we only rely on security forces, then we will never succeed in protecting the peace and sovereignty of our nation. We each must play our respective roles," he said.

Rashid also criticised the over simplification of permits that allow smugglers to easily bring subsidised goods especially subsidised fuel out of the country.

The details on the permits, he said, are too simple, for example, not specifying the details of the vehicles that are allowed to transport the goods.

"What is so difficult in writing down the vehicle's number? Or writing down the name of the landing docks? We have dozens of jetties, why is it so difficult to identify one so that enforcement officers can do their job?


"When these perpetrators were caught, we cannot charge them in court. Then what happens? The 'towkays' will approach the investigating officers, telling them that they cannot bring the case to the court anyway. So can you blame them if they accept duit kopi?

"They can't arrest because the permits oversimplify the procedure of taking out all the subsidised goods. I am sorry for pointing this out. I am not being defensive but as a commander, I feel it is my job to point out the weaknesses in the system," he said.

Rashid called for a more holistic involvement from all agencies to show the government's seriousness in solving security problems in Esszone.

He said it had been proven that ever since Esscom was established, the level of security in Esszone had improved dramatically.

For example, he said, in Semporna, the district council workers have managed to carry out their duties without having to face up to aggressive squatters because the workers will be accompanied by security officers provided by Esscom.

"Now, we see better cooperation between security enforcement agencies. We conducted many operations including dangerous ones such as the Ops Gasak Khas where we hunt down certain commanders who are hiding among the locals.


"Of course, as commanders, they would not give up just like that. Lawan tetap lawan. The aftermath is of course, because we are many and there are only one or two of them, they will always lose," he said.

He also revealed that most of the henchmen of Kidnap-for-Ransom (KFR) cases were workers of resorts, estates and fish farms. To make matters worse, he said, in April this year, there was a letter that went viral purportedly written by a KFR mastermind to his henchmen instructing them to kidnap Chinese.

In conclusion, he said, security forces will continue to work hard and currently, Esscom is focusing on critical issues, including increasing the level of cooperation between security forces and civil agencies and departments and how to unite all security agencies under one command.

"Other than that, we have banned the use of pump boats and another one in the pipeline is the restructuring of water villages. We are in the middle of relocating residents of a water village in Sandakan and I believe that process will be completed soon," he said.

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