ESSCom needs own aircraft for air patrols in ESSZone

File photo.

TAWAU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) needs to have its own air assets, namely an aircraft, to strengthen air patrols in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).

ESSCom Air Operations chief of staff Brig Gen Ayub Khan Mohd Khan said this need was important so that air surveillance could be conducted in a more organised manner to help eradicate kidnap-for-ransom groups (KFRG).

“ESSCom has been operating for over seven years and should have at least one aircraft to facilitate the task of air monitoring around the vast waters of the ESSZone where cross-border criminal activities often occur.

In 2017, the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) conducted an assessment of the multi-sensor reconnaissance and identification aircraft, followed by the Value Management Lab in 2018 to assess ESSCom’s needs, but so far the matter is still status quo,” he said in a statement here today.

Ayub Khan said through the ownership of the ESSCom air assets, patrols could be carried out more aggressively with the cooperation of enforcement agencies such as the Marine Police Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the Malaysian Armed Forces.

“Aggressive patrolling, among others, allows surveys to be conducted at hotspots as well as routes that are ‘staging points’ for cross-border criminals. These can indirectly detect any modus operandi of cross-border criminals and they can be thwarted,” he said.

According to Ayub Khan, ESSCom currently relies on air assets from the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the army’s Air Operations Team and the Air Wing Unit (PGU) of the Royal Malaysia Police which have missions and flight schedules set by their respective superiors.

“If there are special operations, including emergency cases that require swift action, it is difficult for ESSCom to act immediately because it does not have the authority to direct the assets,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said ESSCom was in the process of strengthening its functions and roles in the ESSZone and hoped that the air operations division within the agency would be upgraded and equipped with air asset placement to facilitate deployment and monitoring.