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Sabah's action justified: Teo
Published on: Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Minister of Special Duties, Datuk Teo Chee Kang (pic) said Jakarta's ban on Indonesian vessels going to the Philippines following the recent kidnapping of its nationals by the Abu Sayyaf is similar to Sabah's suspension of barter trade with that country (Philippines).

He said the ban is a clear message to the Philippines Government that if they do not take necessary steps to eliminate the cross- border crimes, they will be economically isolated.

"Ultimately, the people and business community in the Southern Philippines will suffer," said Teo, who is Tanjong Kapor Assemblyman.

Seven Indonesian sailors were kidnapped at gunpoint earlier this week and are being held hostage believed by Abu Sayyaf, who earlier also kidnapped several Indonesian sailors.

It's the third time this year that Indonesian sailors have been abducted in the Sulu Sea.

The rationale behind the Indonesian move is because there was no point in whatever gains from the trade being negated by ransom demands running into millions and possibility of beheading in the hands of the kidnappers.

Two Canadians and a Malaysian hostage have been beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf over the ransom demands.


On April 6 this year, the Sabah Government suspended barter trade activities in all ports throughout the State with immediate effect to curb cross-border crimes, particularly kidnapping.

The decision by the State Cabinet came in the wake of the kidnapping of four Malaysians near Ligitan Island, off Semporna.

The Government also suspended all transhipment trade, including in petroleum and gas products in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), and deferred ferry services between Kudat (Sabah) and Pahlawan (Philippines).

There have since been calls also to suspend the Zamboanga-Sandakan ferry services if the operators do not station security personnel onboard. The fear was that the gunmen would board these vessels and pick out the Malaysians travelling just like they did when kidnapping four Sarawakians last month on a barge in the Sulu Sea.

The Sarawakians have since been released.

Teo also welcomed the joint efforts by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to boost patrols in international waters.


"What is important is that this joint effort must be done consistently, not just talking especially on the part of the Philippines," said Teo.

He hoped Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who has been vocal in fighting crime and militants, would follow up with stern action.

"I also welcome the recent meeting by our Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein who met with counterparts in Indonesia and the Philippines to discuss the joint patrol. "Even Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has through his diplomatic channels, also made efforts to address the threat of cross border crimes which has been disturbing us especially in the East Coast," he said.

On another note, Teo expressed appreciation to the State police force for being relentless in their commitment to ensure security in the State.

"I was made to understand that many police men and women serving here are from other states, including the State Police Commissioner Datuk Abd Rashid Harun who is from Johor.

"I also understand that almost 90 per cent of the police force in Sabah are not able to take leave in conjunction with the Raya holidays, including the State Police Commissioner himself. "This is because of their high commitment to ensure we are safe since security is a main issue especially in Sabah.


"The police together with other security enforcement agencies in the State have a huge responsibility to shoulder to ensure our security is maintained not only on land, but also at sea.

"Thus, it has been LDP's annual programme to hand over Raya cookies to the security enforcement agencies to show our gratitude and appreciation for the high dedication to keep threats at bay," he said.

He also said that the Eastern Sabah Security Command has also foiled many attempts by cross border criminals to enter the country.

"Our tight security has forced these cross border criminals to change the modus operandi to targeting slow moving vessels outside our border," he said.

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