KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 – The army’s successful move to end a standoff with Filipino militants in Lahad Datu earned praise from the Sabah opposition but one leader now wants Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein from handling the mopping up operations.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee said in his Twitter microblogging account today that political interference should not be allowed in the operation codenamed Ops Sulu
“I remain fully confident in the Malaysian security forces. Now, the mopping up. Hishamuddin must hands off – no more political interference,” the former chief minister said in his @yongtl Twitter account.
Hishammuddin had managed the operation with police at the forefront of the battle with the militants who described themselves as the Royal Sulu Sultanate Army when landing in Lahad Datu on February 9.
I remain fully confident in the Malaysian security forces. Now, the mopping up. Hishamuddin must hands off - no more political interference.— YONG Teck Lee (@yongtl) March 5, 2013
The standoff turned violent last Friday when two policemen were killed in a gunfight at Kampung Tanduo in the Felda Sahabat 17 plantation which was taken over by the militants.
Another six policemen were killed in a skirmish in Semporna, 150km away from Lahad Datu, a day later. A total of 20 militants have also died in the two gunfights.
There has been criticism about the police handling of the operation to expel the Filipino militants since they revived their claim to Sabah in February.
This morning, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said a combined security forces operations backed by fighter-jets and artillery pounded the last known hideout of the militants.
Police said there were no casualties on the Malaysian side in the four-hour operation and they were now conducting mopping-up operations after routing the Filipino militants.