An army camp needed to house battalion to protect east coast of Sabah

Salute: Abdul Rahim (fifth from right) shaking hands with army officials at event.

KUDAT: There is a need for an army camp that can house at least a battalion of soldiers to be set up in the district as security threats in Sabah’s east coast are persistent.

Deputy defence minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said since the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) was gazetted following the setting up the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on April 1, 2013, there were lesser cross border crimes in the east coast.

“However, people should not be complacent due to the peace and “calmness” because security threats along the east coast will exist as long as government turbulence in neighbouring countries such as in southern Philippines prevail,” he said after a briefing session with community leaders in Kudat recently.

He also said that there had been several attempts of intrusion from cross border criminals to the state but were intercepted by Malaysian security forces.

“Criminals also see Kudat as one of the safer entry points to Kota Kinabalu,” Rahim said in explaining the need for the Kudat army camp.

“We want an army camp that is full fledged. We are prepared to face any possibilities and we need to have all necessary precautions,” he said, adding that the existing camp in Kudat is for logistics.

He said the proposed Kudat camp would complement existing security bases in the Esszone which covers six districts - Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau.

Rahim explained that though cross border crime reduced following the setting up of the Esscom and the implementation of the dusk to dawn curfew, one can never be too idle in handling security issues.

He said new security threats such as the Islamic State militants (IS), smaller criminal groups and separatists should also be monitored.

“We want peace to last forever. We will not allow any elements to destroy that,” he said.

Earlier in the event, Rahim as well as other senior officials from Esscom took questions from community leaders and explained about the importance of the Esscom, curfew and cooperation from all grassroots in safeguarding the state’s sovereignty.

“We need to work as a team to ensure our state is free from criminal elements,” he said.

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