SANDAKAN - Tiny settlements dotting remote areas of Sabah's east coast are now on the radar screen of security officials aiming to eliminate possible weak spots in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).
This follows concerns that these settlements, which are located within remote coastal mangrove swamps and islands, could be used by criminal elements as hiding or escape points, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.
"These areas could be hotspots for criminal activity. They cannot be spotted by sea patrols and can only be viewed aerially," he said after flying over Esszone areas from Sandakan to Semporna yesterday.
He said checks would also be done to determine if the settlements were legal.
"The security officials have to assess the threat from such areas and take appropriate action," said Shahidan, whose portfolio under the Prime Minister's Department oversees the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
He believed that there was some kind of activity going on in these areas, saying that his aerial observation showed oil spills and movement of boats.
"This can be a threat or hole in the security of Esszone," he said, adding that such remote areas could be spotted along Sandakan and Kinabatangan in the vicinity of Tambisan.
On another matter, he said jetties at some east coast islands would be built or repaired to allow patrol vessels to dock.
On the two-week extended dusk-to-dawn sea curfew that ended yesterday, he said the Eastern Sabah Security Command would be making an announcement on whether to extend or end the curfew.