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A 12-hour East Coast waters curfew for two weeks
Published on: Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: A 6pm to 6am curfew has been imposed on waters off six districts in the East Coast of Sabah for 15 days from Saturday until Aug. 2, with a view to extending it if necessary.

The districts are Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau where the gazetted 12-hour curfew area starts from the international border to three nautical miles from the shore covering a total of 121,270 square nautical miles.

The coastal areas gazetted start from Tanjung Pundaras in Sandakan all way up to the Tawau jetty. The curfew does not include rivers in the Kinabatangan.

This means all fishing, diving, sailing and sea activities on the island resorts and fish cages located in the gazetted curfew areas are prohibited within the 12-hour curfew.

Ships, boats or whatever vessels are not allowed to sail in the area, except for personnel of the armed forces, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, navy and police who are on duty.

Those who fail to abide by the curfew would be pulled up under Section 3(2) Police Act, where the penalty under Section 94 carries a fine of RM500 and up to six months jail.

State Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said a curfew under the Police Act is intended as a short term measure only which is to address an immediate public order or security situation.

"That is why it is limited to one plus 14 days in all. In the United States it is called 'clear and present danger', however the situation in the East Coast of Sabah is different," he told a media conference-cum-briefing at the police headquarters.

He said the threat to public order and public security is now real and continuous.

Therefore, there is a need to either invoke Section 3 of the Public Order (Preservation) Act 1958 to proclaim "danger area" or to use provisions under Sabah's very own Preservation of Public Order Ordinance 1961 to declare a curfew.

"We will discuss and decide if there is a need for the curfew to be extended after the 15-day period is over," he added.

"I have ordered all district police to issue notices or inform the related parties such as shipping and ports people, as well as coastal resort operators by today before 6pm," he said.

Jalaluddin said paramedics, fire and rescue and personnel from the Civil Defence Department are also exempted from the curfew in emergency cases.

He said in case of urgency, civilians may submit applications to be exempted from the curfew, adding that they can apply via the district police chief who will facilitate.

He said deep sea fishermen who have to sail through the curfew area can also apply for permits provided that they do not fish in the curfew area. Smaller scale fishermen are allowed only within the three nautical miles from shore during curfew.

"Security forces who come across any vessel, ships or boats in the gazetted area during the curfew will be given a warning, where our men will fire flares and during hot pursuit, if we suspect them to be involved in abduction or murder, then we can shoot on sight," he said.

Also present was Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Commander DCP Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.

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