Curfew for Sabah's east coast after spate of kidnappings

The police forensic team at the crime scene on Mabul island in Sabah, Malaysia, where a shootout had occurred at Mabul Water Bungalows Resort on 12 July 2014. -- PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION
The police forensic team at the crime scene on Mabul island in Sabah, Malaysia, where a shootout had occurred at Mabul Water Bungalows Resort on 12 July 2014. -- PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

KUALA LUMPUR - A curfew will be enforced within the next 48 hours to tighten security along Sabah's east coast, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

This is to identify potential threats and enable security forces to carry out checks, especially in the event that someone breaks curfew, Malay Mail Online reported on Thursday.

"The curfew will be implemented to complement efforts in having the designated sea routes to avoid any misuse of the routes," the news website quoted Khalid as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

He said steps to improve security in Sabah would be implemented, particularly in 'hotspots' Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna, and Sandakan.

These measures include deploying more armed forces in the state, according to the report. Some 330 police officers would be sent to the state, assisted by 350 army personnel, it said, adding that most of the officers will be stationed in resorts and fish farms.

The new measures come after the attack by eight gunmen on a marine police team at a Mabul resort on Saturday, during which Kpl Abdul Rajah Jemuan was killed and Kons Zakiah Aleip abducted.

Khalid said the number of water and air assets from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Navy, and Air Force would be increased and placed in "strategic areas in and around Sabah waters", Malay Mail reported.

He said police would introduce designated sea routes to ensure vessels used a set path from international waters to eastern Sabah.

"This is our way to ensure that the waters will not be used by criminals intending to trespass into Sabah waters."

"We will also carry out community policing with the fishermen community in the whole of eastern Sabah waters to create a stronger relationship with them.

"An SOP and rules of engagement will be introduced in an effort to coordinate between all enforcement agencies," he said.

Khalid had earlier said a proper study needed to be carried out between the police and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) before the SOP is drawn up allowing security personnel to shoot at anyone suspected to be a threat.

"We will discuss with all the stakeholders to come up with a skeleton of an SOP which will be in accord with existing laws," he said.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had stated that there should be a clear SOP before the power to shoot on sight can be granted.

The request for shoot-on-sight authority was made by Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar following Saturday's incident.