KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Security threats posed by militant groups are no longer confined to Sabah's east coast, but have spread to the west coast areas as well, said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
These groups have appointed "panglima", or commanders, at various districts around the state, said Datuk Ahmad Zahid, who is also the home minister.
"Malaysian security forces are expanding their operations statewide to counter this threat," he said when opening a seminar on security and public at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) on Saturday (March 5).
Dr Zahid and Chief Minister Musa Aman later witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the university and the Home Ministry for the setting up of the Sabah Strategic Research and Security Centre (SASSREC).
The Deputy Prime Minister also accepted an appointment as Adjunct Professor to SASSREC.
He said research and studies by the SASSREC should be practical and made into relevant laws in future.
Dr Zahid said although the government had drawn up punitive laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, it also should be preventive.
"Preventive laws mean that security issues cannot be compromised," he added.
He added it was important that the people unite in their thoughts and actions in ensuring the safety of the country.
"The government will continue to make the security and development in Sabah a priority," he said.