Malaysia

Explain Sabah security lapse, Hishammuddin told

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein must explain the security lapse in letting into Sabah last week 100 foreign gunmen who had threatened the country, lest the home minister wants to be accused of sleeping on the job, PKR said today. 

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali rebuked the minister for failing to prioritise real threats to the country. 

“Has the Home Minister been sleeping on the job that our intelligence agencies have not been able to sound the alarm early enough so that corrective action could have been taken? 

“Why have we let the situation deteriorated to such a point that it appears we have to negotiate with armed insurgents?” Azmin asked. 

He noted that security forces were forced into a lengthy negotiation process to expel the Filipino insurgents that ended only yesterday, while immigration officials were swift to detain and deport Australian senator Nick Xenophon who had arrived in the country for talks on Malaysia’s soon-to-be-called elections. 

“The Home Minister must answer for this serious lapse of security. 

“Rather than making a fool of ourselves in branding Senator Nick Xenopohon ‘an enemy of the state and a security threat’ the Home Minister should have given more focus to the real threats to our national security,” Azmin, who is a federal and Selangor state lawmaker said in a statement. 

Last week, a group of men suspected of being a faction of a Philippine Muslim rebel group intruded into Lahad Datu and holed up in the Sabah border town where they reportedly demanded to be acknowledge as citizens of the Sultanate of Sulu. 

The bizarre drama had threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbours whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border. 

It ended peacefully yesterday after a lengthy negotiation process. 

The insurgents are reportedly now in the process of being deported back to the Philippines. 

News wire Reuters reported that Malaysia pays a token amount to the Sultanate of Sulu each year for the “rental” of Sabah — an arrangement that stretches back to British colonial times. 

In 2000, a group of militants from the southern Philippines kidnapped 21 tourists from the Sabah diving resort of Sipadan. 

In 1985, 11 people were killed when gunmen, believed to be from the southern Philippines, entered Lahad Datu in Sabah, shooting at random before robbing the local branch of Standard Chartered Bank.

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