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Esscom boss explains incident to EU envoys

Published on: Friday, December 06, 2013

Lahad Datu: Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Director General Datuk Mohammad Mentek urged embassies to be understanding and not to issue travel advisories to their citizens and consider the recent incident in Pulau Pom Pom as an isolated one which has been brought under control.

"Visits to several scenic island resorts off Semporna proved that the situation is under control and life is going on normally in all parts of the Esszone. The Pom Pom island incident had a minimal impact on tourism as most of the foreign and local tourists alike are happy during their visit to the island resorts in Esszone areas," he said.

Mohd Mentek said this after giving a briefing on the role and function of Esscom to a European Union (EU) delegation, including seven EU ambassadors led by Luc Vandebon at the Marine Police Base, Thursday.

In the incident recently, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead while his woman companion was kidnapped by a group of gunmen who have since been reported to be negotiating a ransom of RM10 for her release.

The incidents led to several nations issuing travel warnings.

Mohd Mentek, meanwhile, said tourism sites and island resorts in Sabah's east coast are safe to visit despite the incident.

He stressed that the situation in Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) is under control and secure.

"The 10 districts under Esszone are safe for tourists to visit. Many foreign tourists visit popular destinations within the Esszone, including Semporna islands every year and most visits are trouble-free.

"Therefore, foreign tourists should not be worried as tourism places in the east coast of Sabah, including island resorts, are well-guarded by local security forces, which are being fully coordinated by Esscom," he said.

Esscom was established following the bloody incidents in Tanduo, Lahad Datu and Kg Simunul, Semporna on March 1 and March 2, this year.

The establishment of Esscom was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Esscom revived the people's confidence in the government's capability to defend them and the national sovereignty, especially in eastern part of Sabah.

Mohammad Mentek stressed that since the establishment of Esscom, there has been no more new intrusion (by the armed Sulu intruders) and Esscom had restored investor confidence in the booming oil palm areas, particularly in Lahad Datu.

This wass proved by several investment such as the signing of memorandum of understanding between State-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, the developer of Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC Lahad Datu) with Evolution Energy LLC of the United States in Kota Kinabalu, that could translate into a RM500 million investment to produce gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and clean burning coal from oil palm fronds and trunks by late 2015.

Apart from that, Mohammad Mentek said INNO Fisheries Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned company of Yayasan Sabah, and Darden Aquafarm, a subsidiary of Darden Inc, owner of Red Lobster and other US seafood restaurant chains, would also jointly develop a RM2 billion Integrated Lobster Aquaculture Park (iLAP) project off Pulau Timbun.

Also present were Esscom Defence Director Major General Datuk Abdul Halim Jalal and Esscom Security and Public Order Director DCP Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.