Eastern Sabah Security Zone radar system to be upgraded

Eastern Sabah Security Zone radar system to be upgraded

Studies are being carried out to upgrade the radar system around the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) to improve security capabilities in the area, said defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said it is one of the steps being looked at to strengthen the defensive options there following new threats faced there recently.

The existing radar system is quite outdated, he told reporters at the ministry yesterday after meeting with relevant parties on executing sea basing - a naval capability to conduct selected functions and tasks at sea without reliance on infrastructure ashore.

Hishammuddin said sea basing is another option, using abandoned Petronas oil rigs located around Esszone as forward operation bases.

He added that two Petronas platforms have been identified and should be operational by year end while negotiations are being held with another company on using two of their platforms.

"The rigs are there but what is important is to figure out where to place those rigs and what to place on them. We are also deploying more patrol ships in the area to further tighten the security in the area," he said.

Hishammuddin said there will be a revaluation of the software (policies), hardware (assets), humanware (training) and intelligence concerning the Eastern Sabah Security Command.

"This will be discussed at the next National Security Council meeting with the idea to provide better security to shipping lanes and islands in the zone," he said.

Hishammuddin said there are also discussions with Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei to maintain stability in the region.

Hishammuddin was also asked about a request by the Chinese families of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 for the Malaysian Government to explain the raw data obtained from British satellite firm Inmarsat.

"The data is complex, which is why I felt, from early on, that it was better to just let the experts analyse it. But due to the demand from the public and the international media for its release, we released it.

"Now they want us also to provide the expertise to explain the data. If this is how it is going to be, this will never end and could distract us from conducting the actual search operations," he said.

The MH370 next-of-kin, especially those from China, have consistently sought for the raw Inmarsat data and have formed a so-called Voice370 to raise their conerns.

Flight MH370, with 239 people on board including 12 crew members, left the KL International Airport for Beijing at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea.

A multinational search was launched to trace the aircraft, initially in the South China Sea, and then in the southern Indian Ocean.

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