KOTA KINABALU: Sabah needs to look at its security situation with new eyes and perspective, as it has a legacy problem related to the southern Philippines, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The Chief Minister said that this has lead to among others, continuous threats such as kidnappings and influx of illegal immigrants.
He said one way of approaching the problem was to adopt a "prosper thy neighbour" approach.
"I would like to challenge you to look at how Sabah and Malaysians can help to improve the living standards of southern Philippines, as with better living standards, there would be less crime and entry of these foreigners into Sabah," he said.
He said he believed increased prosperity across the border would lead to a corresponding reduction in crimes committed in Sabah waters and lands.
Shafie said this during his opening speech at a seminar on regional and security issues organised by the Institute if Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with Korand Adenauer Stiftung on Thursday (July 18).
His speech was delivered by Sabah state secretary Datuk Seri Hashim Paijan.
He also said unless there was peace and prosperity in the neighbouring countries, it was naive to believe that the security situation would change any time in the future.
"As long as there is no peace in our neighbouring countries, we, as a government, must continue making sure that Sabah is free of crime, or at least we try our best to minimise the occurrence of such incidents including kidnap for ransom, smugglings, drug abuse and more," Shafie said.
He said Sabah should no longer just take a defensive approach to national security but must be pro-active and aggressive.
He said it also needed to use better technologies in tackling security issues, such as utilising drones for surveillance and improve inter-government information sharing.
"We can never solve these problems such as cross-border kidnappings, illegal immigrants, smuggling and many more if we only take a defensive approach," he said.
Shafie said the government must take steps such as stepping up collaborations with all the various security agencies from within and outside the country.
The seminar saw seven speakers comprising representatives from the National Security Council, Eastern Sabah Security Command, police, Sabah Tourism Board and the Philippines giving their input on ways to improve security.