KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia must strengthen its defences in Sabah and Sarawak in its waters around the South China Sea amid various geo-political threats in the area, says Dr Daud Yusuf (pic).
The Bongowan assemblyman said the Federal Government needs to ensure that efforts to enhance defences in Sabah and Sarawak waters to ensure the sovereignty of the country and the safety of the people in both regions are guaranteed.
He said the planned development of the Navy base at Bintulu in Sarawak was an important move forward towards ensuring the security network in the waters of Sarawak and Sabah is more coordinated for the country's naval fleet already in place in Sabah.
He noted that Sarawak was the only region that did not have a naval base while Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia had five bases each.
"I fully support the presence of a naval base in Bintulu, Sarawak, which has been planned before and it should be realised immediately so that the security network in both regions is better guaranteed.
"It needs to be given priority because it also involves the country's interests in the waters off Sabah and Sarawak in the South China Sea, such as the fisheries sector and oil and gas exploration.
"Both regions are interrelated, therefore, there should be no compromise when it comes to the safety of the people, sovereignty, and national interests," the Parti Warisan assemblyman said in a statement here Tuesday (March 21).
The previous Federal Government announced last year that the development of the naval base in Bintulu (MAWILLA 4) under the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12) was to strengthen security in Sabah and Sarawak.
It was also part of increasing and supporting naval operations in Sabah and Sarawak where currently naval assets including the western fleet were concentrated in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.
Dr Daud said that there was also a need to upgrade military assets that were too old and unable to meet modern military threats.
He said that it was important for the Defence Ministry to replace naval and air combat equipment with more modern and effective military equipment.
"The country's security, especially in the waters of the South China Sea, must be maintained, especially from external threats from any country that tries to disturb our sovereignty," he added.
"There is no point in attracting many foreign investors to Sabah if the safety and interests of our people are not guaranteed due to our very limited defence capability, especially with outdated combat assets," he said urging the federal government to take the matter of defence seriously.