Published on: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Lahad Datu: Come Tuesday, after officially starting operations on April 1, 2013, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) celebrates its first anniversary.
Seen as the guardian of Sabahans, Esscom was indirectly the result of the Lahad Datu intrusion episode in February 2013 that has since been playing a crucial role in maintaining security at Sabah's eastern front.
The Kampung Tanduo intrusion where a band of armed Sulu gunmen landed to stake a claim on Sabah on the behest of the late Jamalul Kiram III, the self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, and the subsequent bloody episode in Simunul where six policemen were brutally killed remain fresh in the minds of millions of Malaysians.
Moreover, Sabahans are increasingly confident with the Esscom's ability in protecting Sabah's sovereignty and maintaining security at the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).
The Esszone encompasses 10 districts - Kudat, Kota Marudu , Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
Esscom, which is being headed by its Director General Datuk Haji Mohammad Mentek, is made up of four components - Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) and public agencies.
"Esscom has successfully combined the roles of the four parties and plays the intermediary role in reducing the communication gap, apart from enhancing co-ordination and collaboration in security matters.
"Esscom is now on the right track. The government is also highly committed in ensuring the success of the Esscom and Esszone mission," he said to Bernama.
In facing any eventualities including terrorist invasion or trespassing and up to cross border crimes, he said Esscom has enhanced security patrols at night, and due to the effective integration, co-operation and collaboration there was no repeat of any intrusions.
"Esscom has succeeded in stopping the attempts by foreigners to enter Sabah illegally to commit criminal acts like the kidnapping of Taiwanese tourists in Pulau Pom-Pom on 15 Nov 2013," he said.
Apart from that, Mohammad noted that Esscom had established six Quick Response Force that were capable of intercepting vessels or boats entering Sabah waters illegally. "We have increased the number of check points and improved the amenities in the existing ones, thus complementing the sea, land and air patrols," he said adding that the government has allocated RM11 million to upgrade the infrastructure at 62 checkpoints.
Apart from that, he said, the government through Esscom would spend around RM2.28 million to rebuild houses that were razed during the intrusion episode in Tanjung Labian, in Lahad Datu.
Mohammad noted that Esscom is committed in ending the illegal immigrant menace at Esszone, especially in the resort islands.
In achieving this, Esscom has launched integrated operations Ops Gasak 1, Ops Gasak 2 and Ops Gasak 3 on several islands off Semporna.
"We will continue with Ops Gasak not only on resort islands off Semporna but also in other areas like water villages at Esszone," he said.
Being fully aware of the kidnapping threats, Esscom has met with resort owners there to explain on why its important to join hands with the authority in securing their resort.
This includes the installation of CCTV and employing guards at the resorts. "I see that there is awareness on the resort operators' side in ensuring their resorts are safe for visitors.
"Apart from meeting the community on the islands, Esscom has held similar meetings with non-governmental organisations (NGO), business community, community leaders or grassroots and youths," he said. - Bernama