The visit by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) to witness its operations here today has been described by agency officials as a momentous occasion signifying its importance in maintaining security in the region.

ESSCom Commander DCP Victor Sanjos said the agenda of Al-Sultan Abdullah's visit as Commander-in-Chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) shows His Majesty's seriousness and concern for the country's security and sovereignty.

We are delighted to have this opportunity, Lahad Datu is certainly very close to Al-Sultan Abdullah’s heart.

“His Majesty’s presence at the ESSCom will also be a beautiful memory, an unforgettable experience. Personally, this is a meaningful gift for me and my staff in our efforts to ensure security here,” he told Bernama.

The ESSCom was established on April 1, 2013, following the invasion of Sulu terrorists in the Lahad Datu tragedy on Feb 12, 2013, which saw 10 Malaysian security forces members and 68 Sulu terrorists killed.

Lahad Datu is one of the stopovers for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's entourage as part of the "Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour that kicked off today in Tawau, Sabah, and will end in Telok Melano, Sarawak, involving a distance of 2,154 kilometres via the Pan Borneo Highway, which connects Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

Victor said the security of the people at Sabah east coast, especially the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone), which was achieved as a result of ESSCom's efforts with all parties, is clear evidence that the agency has remained relevant and it is hoped that there would be further improvements in the future.

He said ESSCom's readiness to face various challenges can be seen through the successful handling of kidnapping attempts or any element of trans-border crime including smuggling around the operational areas.

"The strategic cooperation between the MAF, Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in the ESSZone has successfully thwarted various attempts to disrupt security in the affected areas," he said.

However, he said attempts by transnational criminals to carry out activities such as kidnapping for ransom in the ESSZone are still going on, as there are 'spotters' (observers for kidnapping groups) who have family ties in this country and neighbouring countries.

"These spotters also receive rewards, but the ESSCom will also continue to thwart any kidnap attempt. Three things that the ESSCom is doing are intensifying operational measures, improving intelligence and resources and building strategic cooperation with the ESSZone community.

"These three will always be intensified to curb transnational crimes, including kidnapping for ransom. The ESSZone community also plays an important role by being the 'eyes and ears' of the security forces," he said.

Victor said that since its inception 10 years ago, the ESSCom, through the Public Action Division has conducted various programmes with the ESSZone community to highlight the importance of having a high morale and prevent the people from becoming stooges for terrorists.

In addition, the ESSCom is currently working to improve the public and foreign tourists' understanding of the security in the ESSZone with the presence of the ESSCom which also assist residents in need.

"After the Kembara Kenali Borneo progamme, we (ESSCom) plan to organise a programme with the community in collaboration with other agencies, including the local authorities, to improve the tourism sector," he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency