KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal is planning to relocate army bases in Sabah to the state's east coast to iron out security issues in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).
“The border needs the presence of a very strong force so that external threats will not pour into our state. This is one of the drastic changes that we will do," he said.
Mohd Shafie added in his speech on Thursday (May 24) here that a comprehensive study will first be carried out to see if the move is practical.
The Esszone comprises Sabah's entire eastern seaboard, with the districts of (from north to south) Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
Shafie’s announcement comes a day after he said that Sabah may lift the ban on pump boats to help poor fishermen, especially in the east coast.
The pump boat ban was enforced several years ago following a series of cross-border crimes on the east coast, especially kidnappings.
Pump boats are small craft with converted or recycled motorbike or car engines which are much cheaper than "proper" outboard boat motors.
They are normally used by small-scale fishermen and are popular in the seas between Sabah and the southern Philippines.
He however said that the dust-to-dawn curfew imposed on the area in 2014 following a series of intrusions will be continued if it is effective in reducing cross-border crimes.
In recent years, Sabah’s east coast districts have been facing a series of cross-border crimes.
In 2013, a group of over a hundred armed men from the southern Philippines intruded an area near Lahad Datu with the declared aim of “reclaiming” Sabah.
It resulted in a two-month stand off, before an armed conflict between the group and Malaysian armed forces.
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