KOTA KINABALU: The state government should continue banning the use of pump boats in Sabah's east coast to prevent crime at sea.
Opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) vice-president Datuk Johnny Mositun (pic) said maintaining a ban on pump boats in waters off these areas will severely restrict the movements of criminals, including kidnap-for-ransom groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.
He said the ban would also have the same effect on piracy, smuggling and illegal immigration by sea into the state.
“For these reasons, we are calling on the Chief Minister to maintain the ban on pump boats that came into force more than a year ago," he said.
Mositun said allowing pump boats to freely operate in Sabah waters will greatly compromise state security.
He was responding to reports of two suspected Abu Sayyaf members who were shot dead by security forces on Tuesday (Sept 3) in waters off Felda Sahabat near Lahad Datu.
“The seas off Lahad Datu and Semporna are dotted by hundreds of islands with mangrove swamps," he said.
Mositun said pump boats are small, fast and ideal for movements in shallow waters, and can easily evade marine patrols.
He said fleeing criminals hide their pump boats in the streams and rivers of coastal swamps, hidden by mangroves.
He said once they feel it is safe, usually at night, they quickly speed off into international waters.
Mositun urged the state government to study the matter in detail before lifting restrictions on the use of pump boats.
“More importantly, the Chief Minister must listen to the advice of security officials, especially ESSCOM personnel and the marine police who risk their lives to protect the people," he said.