KOTA KINABALU, June 19, 2014: Outspoken social-and-anti-crime activist Tan Sri Robert Phang has called for structural reform of the Eastern Sabah Security Commission (ESSCOM), in order to make it more effective for the very purpose that it was established for – to prevent security breach in the east cost of Sabah.
Expressing deep regret over the latest kidnapping incident in the east coast of Sabah, the fourth since the establishment of ESSCOM within the short span of seven months, Phang said this clearly showed that ESSCOM has failed to function efficiently.
He said this inevitably raised the question of the actual purpose of having ESSCOM, whether it was merely to score political mileage rather than to boost security in the east coast of Sabah, to prevent intrusion by militants from the Philippines.
“Strange enough to note, that the Director General of ESSCOM is not seconded from PDRM or the military.
“In short, he does not have the actual personals or troops under his command. It is a very worrying point. I appeal to the Government to seriously explore and look into the actual structure of ESSCOM to avoid being called a “lame duck” by the Rakyat. If the DG of ESSCOM does not perform as expected – change the leadership. This process has to take place without further delay,” he stressed.
Phang who is Chairman of Social Care Foundation cum an Exco of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) also called on the authorities concerned to stop negotiating with and paying ransom to the kidnappers, so as not to encourage and turn kidnapping into a lucrative business as what has happened.
“No ransom paid is the official stand of the PM. But it was contradicted by the families of the victims, who have said “ransom was paid”. Therefore, the Government of the day must be very careful in your official press releases.
“It’s difficult to believe that there was no ransom paid to the kidnappers.
“Simple logic – if no ransom paid – there will be no release of hostages. Reason being so, the kidnappers would not risk their lives to do it for free.
“Every time ransom is paid – hostages released – a new kidnapping takes place. This goes to show it has become a lucrative business trend for the kidnappers,” he said.
He also expressed concern that the so called “Negotiator” in between the parties – militants/kidnappers and authorities would turn out to be a permanent negotiator because of this lucrative business.
“This is almost the same pattern by the Somalia pirates,” he pointed out.
Phang thus suggested that the authorities concerned stop negotiating with the militants/kidnappers group and engage head on with them by way of elimination exercises.
“Be forewarned that this may result to a possible loss of future hostages,” he said.
He further suggested the authorities concerned, ESSCOM in particular, must reinforce or increase their personals and zero in to collect more intelligence from the ground.
Acknowledging that the difficult challenges to the authorities will be that the intruders/militants all looked like the Sabahans, he suggested the deployment of the British tested tactic of the ‘new village system’ to isolate the suspects or sympathizes.
“In this exercise, we need very strong support from the locals. All the respective ADUNs or YBs of the areas must support and arrange all these plans,” he said.
Phang also urged the authorities concerned to always report the incidents with transparency.
“To the Government of the day, it is always good and proper to avail the necessary information on any issues, more so on the recent kidnapping cases in Sabah. Of course your operations plans and ideas – keep in confidential,” he said.