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Re-look at chain of command
Published on: Friday, January 18, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: A review of the chain of command may be in order among security agencies in eastern Sabah where at least two fresh kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf occurred last year, a top army officer said.

Eastern Field Commander, Lt Gen Datuk Wira Zambrose Mohd Zain, said the National Security Council, Home Ministry and armed forces would consider the matter.  

“I’ve been made to understand that these highest authorities are currently discussing ways to fine-tune the chain of command within the various agencies in eastern Sabah so that it becomes more systematic and efficient,” he told a press conference after a dialogue with military veterans, here, Thursday.


“We do have a chain of command in eastern Sabah but technical issues such as this will be discussed in detail,” said Zambrose without elaborating.

Zambrose heads an army command that oversees troops in Sarawak and Sabah, whose elements also work with the Eastern Sabah Security Command or Esscom, the lead agency in charge of security in eastern Sabah.

The lull in kidnappings in the east coast was broken when the Abu Sayyaf snatched two Indonesian fishermen in waters off Semporna in September 2018. They have since escaped or been rescued in Sulu, southern Philippines.

In December, three more fishermen – a Malaysian and two Indonesians – were abducted from their trawler in waters off Kinabatangan and taken also to Sulu, according to reports.


Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong assured that the government is committed to finding the “best solution to such challenges”.

“Rest assured we will think through these challenges in terms of improving our security and defence,” said Liew in the same press conference.

“We also hope the referendum that will take place soon in the southern Philippines for the establishment of a new Bangsamoro autonomous region will be successful.”

Liew was referring to a referendum that would take place on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6 which aims to ratify a Bangsamoro law that will create a new Muslim autonomous region.


It is hoped this will pave the way for the laying down of arms by the various insurgent and militant groups in the southern Philippines and promote peace and stability in the region.

The Abu Sayyaf is known for piracy and kidnapping acts in the Sulu and Celebes Seas where eastern Sabah and southern Philippines share maritime borders.

The Abu Sayyaf also has a militant faction that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group that was involved in the five-month siege over Marawi city in 2017, which scores of foreign fighters, including from Malaysia, participated. - Zam Yusa

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