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Why no shoot-on-sight yet?
Published on: Tuesday, September 27, 2016
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Why no shoot-on-sight yet?
Kota Kinabalu: Whole villages in the Southern Philippines are involved either directly or indirectly in the lucrative kidnap-for-ransom activity that has become an industry, but the bigger worry is preventing thousands Filipinos making a beeline to Sabah in the wake of their government's offensive against the Abu Sayyaf. "Everyone wants to get their hands on the pie. I was told, the reason these kidnap-for-ransom groups are so successful is because the entire village is involved – they are cooperating with them. It is fast becoming a public-listed company.

"So the Philippines' government is in a dilemma. Who should they tackle first? Because everybody is involved," said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun (pic), after the launching the UMS-MIMA-MKN Sabah 3rd Pillar Workshop (Marine Environment) Kesban at Sea, Monday.

In the midst of so many kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf since the first in sipadan in 2000 – including a beheading and six incidents this year alone – Masidi also wondered aloud why there has yet to be any "shoot-on-sight" order carried out against the kidnappers by Malaysian Forces.

He said there is now the sustained threat of runaway Sayyaf militants fleeing to Sabah. He said based on past experience in the 1970s, it is going to be a heavy task on the Malaysian side to control this wave of immigrants landing on Sabah's shores.

"We will have a difficult time ascertaining whether these immigrants are civilians or remnants of the militants.

We need to balance between humanitarian responsibility and the need to secure our borders," he said. Masidi said militants who managed to slip in would spell trouble for Sabah – a double trouble.

"Firstly, these people are armed. Secondly, they have always been known to be involved in kidnappings.

So if they live in our State, Esscom will be rendered ineffective because Esscom is tasked to protect our borders.

"That would mean, our enemies will be all around us. They are on the inside also and it will be more difficult to control the kidnapping problem," he said.

Masidi said the only way to counter the threat would be to fully enforce the law and putting Sabahans' welfare above others.

Citing an example, he said: "I heard of the term 'shoot-on-sight' to be used against those who encroached the border during curfew hours.

"But each time such incident (kidnapping) happened, it turned out that this command was not carried out and I wonder why."

He admitted that even distinguishing who are the real Sabahans based on MyKad only would be challenging because MyKad can be easily forged. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that law enforcers be well-trained to be able to tell who is a real Sabahan and who is not.

Besides using the law to the fullest, he said, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines must sit down together in a regional conference and have a definitive plan on how to combat the problem and execute it properly.

"So far, there is a lot of air with no substance. Everybody can talk, even I can talk but the problem is still there.

I think it is now time for action."

The kidnap-for-ransom groups in the Southern Philippines have a reputation of releasing their victims unharmed if they get their money but would behead them if no payment is received.

Rumours that the money is not only enjoyed by the groups but also distributed to other parties started to circulate especially when the group responsible for the kidnapping of four Sarawakians who were released in June claimed they were short of RM3m from the initial RM12m supposedly agreed payment.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar maintained that no payment was made and that the victims' release was secured through negotiations. However, when families of the four hostages protested saying some of the money was from donations and raised through mortgaging properties, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the money was "donated" to certain Muslim NGOs in the Southern Philippines.


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