14 July 2013

A top security official has dismissed rumours of a revenge attack on Lahad Datu by the Sulu invaders who were defeated by Malaysian forces earlier this year.

Director-general of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Datuk Mohammad Mentek dismissed the fears of villagers from Kampung Tanjung Labian and Kampung Tanjung Batu saying they were unfounded.

"The rumours of a revenge attack by the attack force leader, Agbimuddin Kiram, and plots of a guerilla war, are completely unfounded and baseless," he said.

Mohammad Mentek said intelligence reports did not point to any retaliation or revenge attacks by the armed Sulu terrorists who some here feared had hid their weapons and blended into the local population.

"We can't live in fear and jump at the sight of our own shadows. What is the point of massing our soldiers and other security forces in Sabah?" he said, adding that there are no plans to increase the number of soldiers deployed in Lahad Datu.

"It would then appear as if there was no improvement of security in that area. We must take the bigger picture into consideration."

He told Media that there were plans to reduce the number of troops deployed in Lahad Datu, adding the reduction would be carried out gradually.

He said Esscom and the National Security Council had visited the affected villages before the fasting month.

"We wanted to get a feel of the situation on the ground and were also briefed about the security in the area," he said.

"Yes, we did hear the villagers express their fears about the rumours that they had been hearing and reassured them that it was merely hearsay."

Mohammad Mentek said there was no definite or substantial evidence to indicate any signs of retaliation by the so-called Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and Northern Borneo.

On the subject of housing for villagers who had lost their homes in the March skirmish, Mohammad Mentek said authorities needed time to ascertain the identities of the claimants.

"If we rush the process and those without Malaysian citizenship also get houses, the public will be up in arms because of the waste of taxpayer funds."

He assured the villagers of Kampung Tanduo, Kampung Tanjung Labian and Kampung Tanjung Batu that they would get their replacement houses as promised.

"Naturally, priority will be given to Malaysians. The confusion surrounding the title deeds and land ownership will also need to be resolved."

Mohammad Mentek said once they had cleared the confusion, all the stakeholders including the villagers would be briefed on the solutions.

The Lahad Datu incursion began in February this year when more than 200 armed gunmen arrived by boats from Simunul Island, Tawi Tawi, in the southern Philippines.

The group was led by Agbimuddin, the brother of Jamalul Kiram III, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu.

Agbimuddin stated that their aim was to assert the unresolved territorial claim of The Philippines to eastern Sabah. – July 15, 2013.



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