Nine probed over Sabah kidnappings

Nine probed over Sabah kidnappings
A photo showing armed men near a door of the hotel, taken by a tourist who was taking shelter on the floor on April 2, 2014.

KOTA KINABALU - The use of high-tech radars on islands off Sabah and surveillance vessels can help strengthen security in Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) to track down and combat intruders and abductors in Sabah waters, said a lecturer.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Unit for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (CerGIS) head Mustapha Abd Talip said the use of radars was one of the best choices in enhancing surveillance in Sabah waters due to the state's vast coastline.

Mustapha said the porous border with Kalimantan also posed a major problem to the authorities in curbing smug gling, human trafficking and cross-border crimes.

"Although ESScom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) has managed to stem the second wave of terrorist intrusion, but its ability in combating abductions is still fragile.

"So the use of radars on islands off Sabah and unmanned aerial vehicles to detect abductors, apart from beefing up assets and personnel, can help bring the situation under control," he said, adding that three kidnappings in past six months were a valuable lesson to ESSCom.

In the incidents, a Taiwanese was killed while his girlfriend was kidnapped from Pulau Pom Pom off Semporna on Nov 15 last year.

After a lull, two women, a Chinese student and a resort worker, were abducted from a resort in Semporna on April 2, and four days later, a Chinese manager was taken from a fish farm at Pulau Baik off Lahad Datu.

"The abductors seem to know the waters very well. They had done their homework and just waited for us to be off guard before they struck. But armed with sophisticated assets, including radars, we can beat them," he said.

Meanwhile, UMS international relations lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Asmady Idris said Sabah was vulnerable to threats of abduction due to its geographical topography as ESSZone covered 10 districts along a stretch of 1,400 km on the Sabah east coast.

"But this does not mean that abduction is a norm and the state's security is threatened," he added.

Meanwhile, Kristy Inus reports in Kota Kinabalu that Sabah Umno Puteri was disappointed with MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon's statement, which they deemed as in appropriate and not in the spirit of Barisan Nasional.

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