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Pairin suggests setting up anti-kidnapping squad

Published on: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

DEPUTY Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan called on the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to establish an anti-kidnapping squad to combat rising cross-border crime in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

"I believe with the establishment of this trained squad, the efficiency and the capability of Esscom to respond to threats could be improved," he said.

Pairin's speech was read by Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Maleh. He said the Tanduo incident was a black spot in the nation's history but it also gave a valuable lesson on the importance of the people's unity in defending the country's sovereignty.

Although Esszone managed to prevent another intrusion attempt by the terrorists, he said, Esscom is now facing bigger challenge in dealing with cross-border crimes, especially kidnapping.

"Surprisingly, the kidnappers from the neighbouring country were reportedly able to speak Malay fluently. This gives a clear message that there is a possibility of an inside person who had been residing in the State for a long time," he said.

Pairin said the difficult and unique situation needs holistic approach and solution because the kidnapping issues are closely related with the presence of immigrants especially those without legal documents or those who obtained their documents through dubious means.

The former Chief Minister appealed to the Federal Government to expedite the process of equipping Esscom with more assets such as boats, radar system and helicopter to high-risk areas within Esszone.

He also asked that the Federal government make good on its promise to add more security force members and build more guard posts and battalion camps as soon as possible.

"At the same time, members of the public, including the KDM community must help the Government in handling security issues in the State because it is our shared responsibility and not just the duty of our security forces.

"We do not want our own people to cooperate with illegals," he said.

Meanwhile, Esscom D-G Datuk Mohammad Mentek said he had appointed Esscom Security and Public Safety Director Dato' Rashid Harun as Esscom Operation Director with immediate effect.

The appointment aimed to strengthen the security in Esszone area especially in the aspect of Central Command, Line of Command and Chain of Command with the hope it would be able to improve Esscom's efficiency in monitoring and solving cross-border crimes.

"This appointment is on rotation basis, where Rashid will be the director for six months, followed by Esscom defence director from the armed forces Major-General Datuk Masrani Paiman for the next six months," he said.

Mohammad also welcomed the suggestion to establish an anti- kidnapping squad by Pairin but said the government would have to refine the proposal if there is any need for it.

"In the Philippines, they have an agency called Anti-Kidnapping Group Organisation because there are too many kidnapping cases in there.

Last year, there were 76 kidnapping cases in Mindanao.

That did not include other cases in other parts of the country.

We only had one, in Pom Pom Island," he said.

Malaysia, he added, already has ample security forces to deal with cross-border kidnappings like the police and armed forces but more needs to be done to improve the level of security of the country's waters since the perpetrators are from neighbouring countries.

"We need the cooperation from the local communities to be our eyes and ears and notify us of their (criminals) presence. Their modus operandi is to live among the locals, gather information and look for opportunities to strike.

"The Chief Minister had already directed resort owners not to hire illegals because we don't know their backgrounds.

Looking at the three kidnaping cases, we found that both resorts and the fish farm hired illegals," he said.

He affirmed that some of the local maritime communities have indeed been helpful in notifying the authority on the presence of suspicious characters in their midst.

The half-day dialogue was the first event held by Esscom to reach out to local communities in the State with the objective to explain the roles and responsibilities of Esscom in order to quash any wrong notions on the exact functions of the one-year old establishment.

More than 100 participants took part in the dialogue including village heads, native organisations, NGOs and government servants.