LAHAD DATU – Abductions like those committed by cross border criminals in Sabah waters happened to vessels that ignored prevention guidelines issued by security authorities.
A briefing here was told that the common denominator of all the cases was the fact that the vessels did not communicate their voyages and navigation plans to the authorities.
Eight abductions occurred so far this year and they involved barges and fishing boats near the maritime border with the Philippines.
“Crime takes place because of the opportunities for it to be committed,” said the commander of the Eastern Sabah Security Command DCP Dato Wan Abdul Bari Bin Wan Abdul Khalid.
“The security forces and the public, fishermen, the fishing boat or barge owners, must play our respective role in order to make it less easy for crimes to be committed.”
He was addressing questions from among participants in a briefing for investors of the palm oil industrial cluster (POIC Lahad Datu) here.
POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, developer of POIC Lahad Datu, initiated the briefing in response to concerns among its investors over recent border abductions off the east coast of Sabah.
The ESSCOM chief said copies of the hand book on precautions and what to do in an emergency are available with the Marine Department.
“Generally we need to collectively respond to the prevailing situation by adopting a culture of prevention; and that involves everyone and not just ESSCOM, after all anyone who guarantees you against crime is probably exaggerating.”
On why some barges and fishing vessels did not reveal their voyage plans, DCP Wan said it may have to do with the fact that the crew members may be illegal workers, or the vessels concerned may be involved in cross border criminal activities such as goods and human trafficking.
“Our investigation also revealed that at least two of the abducted fishing vessels had encroached into Filipino waters and were being held for royalty payment,” he said.
In his briefing, ACP Hassim Justin the Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence ESSCOM, said police maintains a wide network of intelligence with sources within and outside Sabah, and such network has helped prevent 98 cases of attempted abductions or kidnap for ransom.
Police have identified the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group and groups loyal to the Royal Sulu Forces as Sabah’ external security threats, while internal threats comprise the illegal immigrants, smugglers and sympathizers of Islamic State.
Apart from economic opportunities, the availability of ready housing in squatter colonies in Sabah is one of the main attractions for illegal immigration into the state.
He therefore called on employers in Sabah to avoid being complicit by not employing any worker without proper documents.