Threat assessment downgrade a positive sign, says Esscom chief

LAHAD DATU: The downgrading of the threat assessment for crew abductions in the Sulu-Celebes Seas from "potentially high" to "moderate" is a positive development, says Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Victor Sanjos.

He said this was based on the Regional Cooperation Agreement On Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) report 2022 issued recently.

"This assessment is a very good sign. The last abduction incident in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) was on Jan 15, 2020," he said Friday (Dec 8).

Esszone covers 10 districts, namely Kudat, Pitas, Kota Marudu, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

Esscom, the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency cooperate in the Esszone to maintain security controls for checking crime at the country's borders with the Philippines and Indonesia, especially in the Sulu Sea.

Meanwhile, Victor said the move to rebrand the dusk-to-dawn curfew to the Esszone Movement Control Order (MCO), and to reduce the areas placed under the list, had a positive impact on foreign investment and the tourism sector.

"I personally see these tourists as an Esszone asset. I must take care of this asset, Esscom must take care of it, so it is important to provide safety and a sense of security to all visitors in the Esszone.

"I believe that today they come as tourists and maybe tomorrow they come back as investors because they believe in the security and the economic opportunities in the east coast of Sabah," he said.

He added that Esscom is developing a security application specifically for tourists in the Esszone that is expected to be introduced next year.

Victor said a company had been assigned to design and develop the application which did not involve government allocations.

He said he would help in the development of the app based on his experience in establishing the Cyber Crime Investigation Division and the Computer Forensics Unit (Computer and Mobile Phone) of the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department in 1997.

The development of the app was well received by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, he added.

"We need the cooperation from the ministry and all those involved to help promote the app among tourists when it is launched soon.

"Esscom wants to ensure that the safety of these tourists is guaranteed.

"If there is a problem they (tourists) can let us know. They can install this app (on arrival) and uninstall it when they return, if they choose," he said. – Bernama

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