Increased military presence on streets not cause for alarm: Malaysia National Security Council

Safety matters: Najib chairing the National Security Council meeting at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya. With him are (from left) Zulkifeli, Ali and Khalid.
PHOTO: The Star

PUTRAJAYA: If you see increased police and military presence on the streets, don't be alarmed because they are there to ensure public safety.

This is among measures decided by the National Security Council to improve security and increase the country's level of preparedness in the wake of terror attacks in several parts of the world.

Security agencies at the borders would also be trained to be more sensitive and alert in monitoring people and goods to prevent criminals and terrorists from slipping into the country

A terror attack by the Islamic State in Jakarta last week that killed eight people and injured dozens was the closest to Malaysia so far.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also chairman of the council, said that although the security situation was under control, there was a need to increase the level of preparedness.

He said terror threats came from militant groups such as IS and Abu Sayyaf, which had staged kidnappings, adding that the self-styled Royal Sulu Army which invaded Lahad Datu also posed a danger to the country's security.

"While we are taking measures to increase security, we also urge the people not to be afraid and continue with their daily lives and activities.

"Malaysians should feel safe and reassured, continue their business as normal and not to be overly concerned as the authorities have the situation under control," he told a media conference yesterday.

Najib said that thanks to the alertness of the police and their pre-emptive measures, a total of 129 people have been arrested for involvement in IS, adding that 55 Malaysians were involved in IS in Syria and Iraq.

"Seventeen of them were killed and of that, six died as suicide bombers," he said.

The council meeting was also attended by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, Armed Forces chief Jeneral Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa.

Najib said joint patrols of policemen and soldiers would be held in public and tourist areas to show that authorities were in control of the country's security.

He named Bukit Bintang and a few major shopping malls as among locations where there would be joint patrols.

Najib said contrary to the perception that increased presence of security personnel would scare the people, he believed the public would be comforted by their presence.

"We want to be ready. We want to increase the level of sensitivity and preparedness against any eventuality," he added.

Malaysia had offered to set up the centre, which would use various tools, including social media and engagement with scholars and clerics, to counter the propaganda of terror groups and offer counter-narratives reflecting the true meaning of Islam.