Esscom conducting profile of Sabah's sea gypsies

Sea gypsies or Pala'u living in the Lahad Datu waters.

Sea gypsies or Pala'u living in the Lahad Datu waters.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) is conducting a profile study of the Bajau Laut, or Sabah sea gypsies, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim.

He said the stateless Bajau Laut, also known as Pala’u, are marine nomads, living on boats and moving among the waters of Sabah, the southern Philippines and Indonesia.

“Their actual numbers are not known, and they are poor and illiterate,” he added.

The study would determine the community’s numbers, locations and citizenship status.

Shahidan said this in a written reply in Parliament to Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur (BN-Silam), who had enquired about the steps the government was taking to deal with the community, whom he said “didn’t just spoil the scenery but could jeopardise national image and security if there is no solution from the Prime Minister’s Department.”

“In 2015, Esscom carried out two profiling studies, in Kampung Labuan Haji, Pulau Omadal and Pulau Kulapuan, Semporna from March 18 to 21 and in Pulau and Terumbu Sebangkat, Semporna from August 3 to 8.

“In 2016, another study was conducted in Kampung Halo, Kampung Bangau-Bangau and Pulau Nusa 3 in Semporna, between March 10 and 17, and plans another in Kampung Kunak 3, Kunak in August 016.

“The study findings will be analysed to determine the next course of action.

“Currently, the Bajau Laut are living their daily lives as per usual and the situation is well under control,” said Shahidan.

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