PARLIAMENT MPs from constituencies in Sabah, and from both sides of the political divide, joined forces today to slam Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for urging resort closures following the recent kidnapping off Semporna.
Leading in the brusing was Wan Junaidi's colleague Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan) who urged Wan Junaidi to apologise or resign for his suggestion.
Abdul Ghapur was echoing Jimmy Wong (DAP-Kota Kinabalu) who also wanted an apology but upped the ante by urging the disbandment of the East Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
"We should disband Esscom and the home minister should take charge (of security in East Sabah).
"But only the minister, and not that one deputy of his, because that deputy wants to shut down the resorts.
"The people of Sabah are angry about this and if he does not apologise, he should resign," Abdul Ghapur said while debating an emergency motion on Esscom.
The motion was brought by Stephen Wong (DAP-Sandakan).
Abdul Ghapur also said that security is a problem that has plagued Sabah since 1979 and Kuala Lumpur only woke up to it after the Lahad Datu incursion in February 2013.
“I can’t even read out the list of security breaches since then as it is too long,” he said.
Agreeing with Jimmy and Stephen, Abdul Ghapur (left) said that Esscom is not working as it is headed by a civilian who cannot command security forces to move.
“Can he tell the armed forces or police? Does he have power? No. It doesn’t matter that he is a Sabahan if he has no power whatsoever,” he said.
“We don’t want the usual answer that this matter is being studied.”
Abdul Ghapur added that such events are costing Sabahans their livelihoods with a planeload of Chinese citizens reportedly leaving Sabah soon after they landed upon hearing news of the recent kidnapping.
Beefing up Esscom
However, other BN backbenchers including Madius Tangau (BN-Tuaran), Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) and Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) debating the motion were softer on Esscom, saying that it should be toughened up with more assets and power instead of being written off.
They also urged that Esscom be chaired by the prime minister who has “all the powers under the Malaysian sky” to give orders.
Both sides of the divide also agreed that the findings the royal commission of inquiry into illegal migrants in Sabah should be released immediately, after being postponed so many times since even before the 13th general election last May.
“Now the minister tells me that it could be released in May, but only maybe,” Stephen said.
The MPs said that this is as illegal migrants are the root cause of security issues, be it an incursion or interborder crime along Sabah’s porous 1,400 kilometre-long sea border.
Pakatan MPs also suggested that Sabah be given powers to have its own security force in order to more effectively guard the borders.
“Could we have something like the Sarawak Rangers?” Darell Leiking (PKR-Penampang) said.
Alternatively, Jimmy proposed that navy, army and air force all have detachments in Sabah, and not just the navy.
Winding up the debates, minister in charge of parliamentary affairs Shahidan Kassim (right) said that Esscom is already in the midst of being beefed up with more assets.
He added that all island resorts off Semporna now have security outposts including Singamata, which earlier only consisted of a patrol.
He said that on the day of the kidnapping, patrolling officers had visited Singamata just hours before the kidnap but it is now clear the culprits had learnt of the patrol pattern.
As for tourism, Shahidan said that security issues do not turn away tourists.
“It is actually the foul-mouthed people who speak ill of the country overseas,” he said, referring to the Opposition leaders.