KOTA KINABALU 11/03/2013: With the east coast of Sabah being turned into a military command centre, Sabahans must brace themselves for the long haul in overcoming the security threats faced by Sabah, said former chief minister Yong Teck Lee.
“Security operations of this nature can last up to 20 years, or one generation, because of the inherently delicate tasks of identifying who the real enemies are in this troubled region of East Asean, particularly in the Southern Philippines,”
He cited how the Moros fought the Spanish conquerors for 300 years and then the Americans for 50 years and then Manila for another 50 years until the present day, without any sign of a long lasting solution in spite of peace agreements like the Tripoli accord of 1976 and with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996 and with Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2012.
He told the reporters this when approached at the mobile service booth of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) in Gaya Street here today, when asked to comment on the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s announcement in Lahad Datu last Friday of the establishment of a special security area (SSA) in Sabah to safeguard the sovereignty and security of the state’s east coast.
Najib said the Sabah Special Security Area encompassed the districts of Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, Sandakan, Semporna and Lahad Datu.
Yong who is also president of SAPP pointed out that the East Coast Security Area is an ‘Eastern Command’ that by its nature is meant for the long haul in the same way that the Sarawak Rajang Security Command (RASCOM) was established in the 1970s to combat communists and the Armed Forces Philippines Southern Command that was set up to combat separatists.
He said the on-going security crisis is a “slap in the face of Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein” who had assured the people that the intruders are not militant and not violent.
Yong also said he believes the armed intrusion by a group from the Southern Philippines has crossed the point of no return.
“The use of our air force fighter jets bombing enemies within Sabah’s shores, the first ever in Sabah, is a turning point in how Malaysia has decided to face this security threat,” he said.
Five battalions of security forces have been deployed to Sabah and an unannounced number of support personnel and equipment confirms the view that Malaysia’s security forces have the capability to repel this incursion, he added.
He however expressed regret that four weeks into the conflict, none of the district security committees had been activated.
“Whereas the state government can only churn out rhetorical statements like “things under control” and “do not listen to rumours”, thousands of local Sabahan villagers around ground zero at Lahad Datu have become war refugees with insufficient food, medical help and shelter.
“It seems that our government leaders are at a loss in handling the current crisis arising from the conflict in Lahad Datu,” he said.