I'm no intruder, says Sabah ex-assistant minister after run-in at sea with army

  • Nation
  • Friday, 12 Apr 2019

KOTA KINABALU: A former state assistant minister and several of his family members were intercepted in Sabah's high-security Semporna waters after authorities suspected they were intruders.

Datuk Ramlee Marhaban, who was with his son and three nephews when Malaysian security forces intercepted their high-speed boat at the border island of Mataking, said he made the mistake for not bringing along his MyKad.

"I forgot to bring along my identity card. It was a mistake on my part," Ramlee said, adding that he was licensed to carry the shotgun and pistol.

On Thursday (April 11), soldiers under the Malaysian Armed Forces Joint Task Force 2 (ATB 2) intercepted his  boat close to sea borders with the Philippines after their radar detected a fast-moving vessel at the sea border heading towards the island.

They found all five of people were without documents, as well as being armed with a pistol, shotgun and bullets.

The army immediately handed the five over to Semporna police, who cleared the air over their identities and set themm free.

"I don't blame our soldiers for they were merely doing their job," he said, adding that the area was a high security area.

"I am also happy our radar system works now. Last time they use to tell us it could not work," said the former Sabah Umno's Bugaya assemblyman from Semporna when contacted.

Ramlee explained that before heading for Mataking, he had informed the Eastern Sabah Security Command via a WhatsApp message and they gave me the green light.

"I think the soldiers may not have been aware of my presence," he said, adding that he often visited the island because he had a resort and a piece of land there.

Ramlee said that he dared not venture into the Philippines side of the border.

"I am retired now. I go often fishing," he added.

Semporna police chief Supt Peter Umbuas said they recorded statements from Ramlee and his other family members and released them as Ramlee was licensed to carry the firearms.

Supt Umbuas said they would not be taking further action against them.

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