New Labuan radar will keep a better eye on Malaysian airspace, says Deputy Defence Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: A new long-range radar will be set up at the Labuan air force base to better monitor the nation's airspace against encroachment, says Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz.

"The radar is sponsored by the US government through the Building Partner Capacity strategic cooperation programme," the Deputy Defence Minister said when answering a question raised by Datuk Rozman Isli (Warisan-Labuan) in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 16).

He said RM12mil was also allocated to construct an 'anti-cut' and 'anti-climb' perimeter fence at the airbase along with closed-circuit television (CCTV) and watch towers.

He added RM9mil will be used to repair the slopes near the helicopter hangar while RM25mil will be used to resurface the airbase dispersal and main taxiways.

Earlier, Ikmal informed the House that Sabah's defence will now come under the army's 5th Infantry Division based at Lok Kawi Camp in Kota Kinabalu, unlike previously where only the 5th Infantry Brigade was assigned for the purpose.

"The army will be mobilised to carry out forward element operations at Sabah's borders to protect Kota Kinabalu," he added.

Apart from this, he said that the 13th Infantry Brigade, based in Felda Sahabat, will be the forward element to defend the east coast of Sabah.

"Whereas the 5th Infantry Brigade based at Camp Paradise in Kota Belud will be an in-depth element, always on standby as a forward element if needed to defend Sabah from any threats," he added.

Meanwhile, Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) questioned why the sea curfew was still imposed in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone after eight years.

"This has affected the development of the tourism industry in the affected areas.

"Owing to the curfew, some countries have issued travel advisories against visiting these areas," he said, adding that some areas such as Kota Belud and Putatan have not come under any threat.

In response, Ikmal said the decision to impose the curfew does not come under the jurisdiction of the Defence Ministry but the National Security Council.

However, he added that he would bring the matter up for discussion.

The curfew was first implemented on July 19, 2014, following a spate of kidnappings which saw the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then and the killing of several others.

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