Tourism players welcome Esszone MCO but urge caution

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah tourism players say it is apt for authorities to impose the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone Movement Control Order (Esszone MCO).

However, they urged security forces to remain vigilant over potential threats despite the new order.

Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) chairman Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said after almost 10 years of a maritime curfew on the whole of eastern Sabah, it is time to ease the restriction on some areas such as Tawau.

He said this is partly because the Filipino government has suppressed the Abu Sayyaf group for years, lowering the threat in the east coast.

“But we still can’t be relaxed and must always be on alert for activities that might endanger our tourist attractions,” he said yesterday.

“Satta thanks the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) for their past efforts to ensure the safety of tourists.

“There have been no unfortunate incidents for quite a long time, and we consider the whole area safe for visitors.”

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain had announced on Monday that the Esszone MCO will replace the Sabah maritime curfew which expired at 6pm on Tuesday.

He said this was decided following the latest security assessment by the National Security Council, Home Ministry and the Sabah government.

The new order, Razarudin said, covers the waters off Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna, Sandakan, Kinabatangan and Beluran.

Tawau, which was previously included, has now been taken off the list as statistics show a low threat level and satisfactory security control, he added.

Sabah Tourism Federation president Tonny Chew said they are fully confident of the security force’s decision to lower security measures, especially for Tawau.

“We had zero kidnapping incidents after the curfew.

“As such, this has provided a better tourism environment and enjoyment for our guests, especially related to insurance coverage issues,” he said.

Echoing Liaw’s sentiments, Chew said the authorities should not take their eyes off the ball where safety is concerned.

“Security surveillance is still required to manage risk,” he said.

The previous curfew was implemented on July 16, 2014, to deal with the threat of armed incursions by Sulu militants and kidnap-for-ransom groups.

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Esszone MCO , Sea Curfew , Security , Tourism , Esscom


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