He said it also did not help that many tourism players and fish farmers hire illegal immigrants in order to make bigger profits since they do not have to get work permits for them. The Government lamented the fact that there are locals who are abetting illegals, either by renting out their homes or allowing them to stay with them.
"Assisting illegals means inviting trouble. I remind the people not to collude or give shelter to illegals because it is against the law.
Those caught can be charged under the Immigration Act 56(a)(1) which carries maximum five years jail, or fine RM10,000 or both," he said, at an Esscom dialogue with the KDM Community at Wisma Dang Bandang, Monday.
He said while Esscom had taken several approaches to ensure the peacefulness and security of Esszone areas, all parties must cooperate as this responsibility should not be placed only on the shoulders of the security forces. "Sabah is ours, let us together keep it safe," he said.
"There are 361 islands in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) including 83 in Semporna. The area also has smaller islands with settlements and resorts," he said.
Mohammad said he would consider the proposal to set up an anti kidnapping squad on ad hoc basis to address cross-border crimes. (see separate report).
"Its a good idea as the Philippines already has an anti-kidnapping squad.
There were 76 kidnapping cases in southern Philippines last year, including the kidnapping on Pulau Pom-Pom.
The dialogue was to give opportunities to the KDM community to know Esscom better since many are still in the dark on the purpose of Esscom's establishment in safeguarding the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).
The dialogue was the fourth after previous meetings with local community leaders in Tungku, Kunak and the Suluk community in Tawau recently.
"The security issue must be given priority and should not be taken lightly because of its tremendous implications and could threaten the lives and properties of the people.
"I urge the KDM community not to be easily influenced and believe rumours spread by certain parties, especially through new media, but to refer to the security forces or Esscom in order to ascertain its authenticity," he said.
Mohammad also advised the KDM community not to provoke or twist facts as these can cause fear and discomfort to the people, especially those living in remote areas.
On May 6, a China national, Yang Zai Lin, 34, who was a fish rearing centre manager on Pulau Baik, Lahad Datu, was kidnapped by five armed men. Earlier, on April 2, seven armed men abducted a tourist from China and a Filipino worker at a resort on Pulau Singgahmata, Semporna.
All are still being kept captive in an unknown southern Philippine island and a RM34 million ransom had been made for the release of the China tourist, a student. Last November, a Taiwanese tourist was kidnapped and freed reportedly after ransom was paid. However, her male companion was shot dead during the incident at Pom Pom island.