Life Goes On In Idyllic Semporna Despite Abduction And Robbery

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When illegal cigarette vendors, usually migrants, are around, it means all is well. When they are conspicuously missing, it is a sign that trouble is close at hand.
When illegal cigarette vendors, usually migrants, are around, it means all is well. When they are conspicuously missing, it is a sign that trouble is close at hand.

SEMPORNA: It was business as usual for the people here as they went about their daily lives almost oblivious to a kidnap and two robberies offshore Tuesday night.

A check by Bernama found that although most people initially had fears about their safety, they were able to keep such feelings under control as they had trust in the authorities and their capabilities in protecting the people of Semporna.

Secondary school teacher Aslina Ali, 29, said that although she came to know of the incidents last night, she believed that the security forces comprising the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom), Royal Malaysia Police and other agencies would not remain silent.

“I believe the security forces in Sabah waters will beef up security and I hope that the bloody incident of Tanduo in February 2013 will not recur,” she said.

Salawati Latip, 27, who has been living in Semporna for the past two years, said it was still safe for her to be here.

The boats plying the numerous islands off Semporna were busy as usual.
The boats plying the numerous islands off Semporna were busy as usual.

“Perhaps, the strict security control makes me feel safe but I hope the relevant parties will continue to go all-out to get rid of the criminals,” she said.

She added that being among the top holiday destinations in the country, Semporna must address the security aspect so that tourists keep coming here.

Meanwhile, in Lahad Datu, a private sector employee who wanted to be known only as Samsiah said everybody must be positive and not point fingers at the authorities as stringent security controls had been put in place in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).

“We must also become the eyes and ears of the authorities. The waters cover a massive area and ESSCom members cannot be there round the clock,” she said, suggesting that the kidnappers might be living among the local people.

On Tuesday night, a group of armed men kidnapped a trawler owner and robbed his 26 crew in the waters off Gaya Island, Semporna, and then committed another robbery in the Tungku waters off Lahad Datu.