Informers among biggest threats to security forces in Sabah's east coast

KOTA KINABALU: Traitors such as informers continue to be among the biggest threats to security forces in Sabah’s east coast who are protecting the state from cross-border criminals.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Intelligence Division deputy chief of staff (armed forces) Syed Zulkiflee Syed Abdul Rahman said the challenge of having informers in the eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) is that the criminals would be a step ahead in their operations.

“So who are these informers? They are ‘locals’ living on the east coast,” he said during a talk in conjunction with the Sabah Zone Kita Demi Negara event here Saturday (Oct 1).

He said the definition of locals in Sabah was somewhat blurred, because not all Sabahans acknowledge that people who were born in the state, grew up here and even went to school here, are considered the "people of Sabah".

Zulkiflee explained that this was because these people were the children of illegal immigrants who have set root in Sabah, grew old and died in Sabah, leaving their children and future generations here, many without proper identification documents.

He said with the presence of informers, cross-border criminals including kidnappers, terrorists, smugglers, fish bombers and foreign fishermen will be notified of when there is a change of shift among security forces, which patrol posts are empty, what time an area was "clear" and which routes are safer to take.

“This happens because both informers and criminals work on economic demand and supply - money,” he said.

On this note, Zulkiflee urged the public, especially those living in the east coast, to be the eyes and ears of the security forces, and not even think of becoming informers and traitors to the nation.

“I am an intelligence officer, meaning I do intelligence and spy jobs. So I am calling all of you here today to be our little spies, to be our spies that help protect our nation’s sovereignty,” he said.

“This is the only way we can protect our nation, our homes and our families,” he added.

Earlier, Zulkiflee mentioned that apart from this, security forces were also faced with other threats such as those from Abu Sayyaf kidnappers and Royal Sulu Force militants, and the presence of backdoor and uncharted routes into Sabah.

“However, with Esscom in place and strong connections with our intelligence sources and partners, we are able to bring down the numbers of cases,” he said.

Taking kidnap-for-ransom activities as an example, he said there had been zero kidnappings in Sabah since 2019, proving that the ongoing efforts by security forces and the community were on the right path.

This also shows that Sabah’s east coast areas, which is home to some of the best diving and tourism sites in the world, are safe to visit, said Zulkiflee.

He said issues on safety in the east coast have always been questioned and talked about, but with the zero kidnapping record since 2019 and economic activities such as fishing and tourism in these areas, it can be said that Sabah is safe to visit.

He also spoke about the international border disputes and claims on Sabah from nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines that add to the challenges faced by security forces.

Zulkiflee said as long as security forces were in place at the Esszone, they would protect and ensure that no inch of Sabah was wrongfully and purposely claimed.

“Let us all work together to keep our nation safe. I am from Johor but I have been in Sabah for several years and we must stay united to safeguard the sovereignty of our country,” he added.

After the talk, there was a demonstration of "non-weapon" combat by Esscom personnel.

The two-day programme will end on Sunday (Oct 2) with a town hall session and closing ceremony by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

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