KOTA KINABALU: Relocating security bases from the West to the East coast of Sabah will improve the international community’s confidence that the state is safe to visit, says Parti Warisan.
Its Tungku assemblyman Assaffal P Alian said the government should consider this after the United Kingdom recently lifted its travel ban to Sabah’s northern Kudat district.
Assaffal said this following the call by party president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal for the relocation of the Lok Kawi Camp and Paradise Camp on the West coast to the East coast as a permanent solution over Sabah's border security.
“With increasing radicalism and global geopolitical conflicts that will find their way to Asian countries, we must come out with a permanent solution,” he said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 6).
“This is not only to prevent possible future intrusion in the East coast of Sabah but also to end piracy, illegal immigration and smuggling.
“What is the point for us to lift the curfew this year, only to reinstate it again next year should the threat of KFR (kidnap for ransom) or even militancy resurface?
“Obviously, reinstatement of curfews will raise the red flag on travel advisories again, so we might as well go for the once and for all solution to these threats by relocating these camps,” Assaffal added.
The British High Commission in Malaysia, in a statement on Nov 29, said the update on the travel ban lift to Kudat is the result of a rigorous review by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and represents the first major change to the United Kingdom’s travel advice for Sabah since 2013.
British High Commissioner to Malaysia Ailsa Terry said the travel advisory change was a testament to efforts by the Malaysian Government to improve security in eastern Sabah.
The British government acknowledged that the security situation in eastern Sabah had improved.
However, the British government said that it would continue its travel advice against all but essential travel to the islands and dive sites from Sandakan to Tawau, including Lankayan Island, which are located on the East coast.
The decision represented the first major change in Britain's travel advisory for Sabah since the 2013 incursion by over 200 Sulu terrorists, which resulted in the deaths of 56 militants, 10 Malaysian security force personnel and six civilians.
Assaffal said travel advisories issued by the UK, European Union and Canadian governments to their respective citizens have caused a loss of opportunities for tourism players on the East coast, particularly in Sandakan, Kinabatangan and Semporna.
This was especially at a time when the low ringgit should have enticed Europeans to come here and spend, he said.
“Both Sandakan and Tawau have been facing sluggish economy due to long curfews, lack of investments by private sectors, water and electricity supply disruptions and this has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On behalf of Warisan, I wish to extend my appreciation to the British Commissioner to Malaysia for her efforts. Should she require our assistance on other matters in relation to Sabah, Warisan is happy to assist,” said Assaffal, whose constituency is situated in Lahad Datu.