Published on: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Hishammuddin said the armed group are not militants or terrorists but "since they had guns, it is important our action does not lead to bloodshed.
"There is a lot of speculation and rumours flying. I have the correct information and can confirm that most of the speculation is baseless," he told a press conference at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
"The issue is not political, not racial, no connection with the stand on sovereignty but in our context this is our land and this is something that can jeopardise the nation's security. This is why we are trying to handle wisely without bloodshed or loss of lives in our land," he said.
He said the Government is working closely with the Philippines to resolve it, adding Malaysian security forces could have taken action the very first day (last Tuesday) but "we don't want loss of lives for whatever reason on their side that will have an effect on us."
He also denied speculations that members of the group have entered Kota Kinabalu and this was the reason for roadblocks at certain places.
"I would like to remind people not to view these as something that can be politicised and I hope we can all be patient," he said.
Hishammuddin said he would put all the records straight after he returns from Lahad Datu. "I will give you even more details because all these speculations, if I say something now, people won't believe.
"So let me go and see for myself so that I can give explanation and so that there won't be any quarter who will try to create chaos."
He also said to spare some thought for our men who have been standing guard for days to ensure our security? "Who gave recognition to police and army and coastguard who have monitored the situation which ensured that we are still in control?" he asked.
He said it was easy to criticise and speculate. "That's why I came here today to explain to the people of SabahÉbecause it involves the lives of those who are just doing their duty to ensure our security.
"It involves the lives of those who might have different ideology that maybe we don't even understand and the speculations might not even have any connection with why they are in Lahad Datu," he said.
He said if the rumours and speculations jeopardise our security then action would be taken against those who spread them.
"We are not interested in the rumours, we are interested in the lives of our security personnel and also in saving the lives of those Filipinos who are in Lahad Datu today who have a lot of links also."
He also said a lot of people in the peninsula don't realise the geographical proximity. "Aljazeera and CNN definitely do not know the historical and geographical link up."
On why the group is here, he said, to "wait until the operations are over and then we will inform the public.
"We are not here to sensationalise issues. I stress on this because something said could jeopardise our operation. In today's world where information can spread in the blink of an eye, what I say could be used by irresponsible quarters to jeopardise the efforts by Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Director Datuk Salleh Mat Rasid and State Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib."
He said it was the responsibility of Federal and State to ensure the country's security. "This is why I came here, first to give support to our enforcement there as well as to ensure that the operation which has been planned will go smoothly without untoward incidents."
On whether the personality which the group wanted to meet was Datuk Ismail Kiram, he said, details of the discussions included many aspects and that it could be just one aspect of it.
"I've spoken to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman many times and so I have the latest information as far as the Philippines position is concerned.
"They too, confirmed that this group are not militants and not terrorists and we will see how things develop from there.
"There is no point in speculating the details because there may be many conditions, some that can be fulfilled and some that cannot be fulfilled but most important for me is the safety aspect," he said.
He also said there is no confirmed time on deportation.
On the opposition accusing the government of failing in handling the situation, he said, it is their (the opposition) job to oppose.
"When we do good things, they never applaud us and the police have never worked on the criticism or the applause from the opposition from before, whether it is Bersih, whether it is terrorist, whether it is street crimes, I have never seen the opposition say good things about what we have done but criticise us.
"That's why I don't want the majority of Sabahans to follow this thing.
Because for me and the Government, we only look at it in the context of security," he said, when asked on the YouTube postings that the group claiming Sabah belonged to the Raja Sulu and that they are willing to go to war for the land.
"It has nothing to do with jihad, nothing to do with certain demands, the demand on Sabah has been made for many years so why is that issue being connected with this situation.
"I think our defence level is very good. This is not a situation where there is a kidnapping. Because if they really wish to harm Malaysians that would have been the norm," he said when asked on the defence level along the coastline.
On how they could get into Sabah so easily, he said: "The coastline is huge here. It would not be possible for us to look at every possibility in every situation.
On the issue of security in a world without borders, not only the numbers of people, not only the ships that we have, no country can guarantee that, not even the United States of America.
"But we are doing our best, we can, with the technology available, I think we will strengthen it from time to time.
But we need to deal with this issue first."
On security at resorts, he said security had always been tightened after many incidents of kidnapping.
"There are certain kidnappings that are still in the process of negotiations and pending discussions with the intelligence agencies of the country's concerned."