Sabah moots drastic measures to secure sea border

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to take drastic measures following the April 1 kidnapping of four Sarawakian sailors off Pulau Ligitan along the Malaysia-Philippines border in the Celebes Sea.

"The government views this incident with grave concern and drastic measures must be taken to overcome cross-border crime such as kidnappings, " Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman (pic) said in a statement after chairing a special meeting of the State Security Council here on Monday.

He did not disclose what the "drastic" action would be, but it is widely expected to address calls to stop the multi-million ringgit barter trade between Sabah and southern Philippines.

In his statement, Musa said that the proposed measures would be brought up at the next state cabinet meeting for discussion and an announcement would be made after that.

"The government accepts the gravity of the situation and that guarding the sovereignty of the nation and the security of its citizens are its prime responsibility," Musa added.

During the security council meeting, Musa was briefed by authorities on the latest development on the abduction of the four Sarawakians – Wong Hung Sing, 34; Wong Teck Kang, 31; Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21.

The four were grabbed from the tugboat MV Masfive 6, which was returning to Tawau after delivering a cargo of timber to Manila at around 6.15pm on Friday.

Six other crew members – three Indonesians and three Myanmar nationals – were left behind.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had made a call to stop the barter trade to curb cross-border crime, including kidnappings.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also Home Minister, also said that there was a need to study the benefits of centuries-old barter trade system between Sabah and southern Philippines and whether it should be continued.

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