PRESS STATEMENT 6 MARCH 2013
THE INVASION OF SABAH
I was saddened to hear about the death of 8 members of the police force involved in the Lahad Datu invasion and Semporna standoff and I offer my condolences to their families. We know that for members of the armed forces, their jobs put their lives at risk, but still, when lives are taken so brutally, it is painful news to hear. We are humbled and grateful that there are people willing to put their lives on the line for the safety and security of our country. Sadly, at times, some are called upon for the ultimate sacrifice.
For the BN government to accuse Anwar Ibrahim of having a hand in the invasion of Lahad Datu is beyond belief and comprehension. It appears to be the nature of UMNO and the BN to blame others when things go wrong, their favourite target being Anwar Ibrahim. They are quick to order investigations into the slightest allegation involving the opposition but when faced with accusations against themselves, such as the allegations by Deepak and Bala, we get long deafening silences from them.
The events of the past few weeks have given Malaysians much to ponder on, and even more to feel gravely alarmed about. From the various news reports, it appears that the intruders arrived between 3-11 February in Lahad Datu and that they received help from their brethren who live there. There are around 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah and according to the Philippine Star, there are more than 8,500 - mostly Tausugs (Sulu people) - in Sabah whom MNLF political chief Gapul Hajiru claims are potential supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu. It is highly possible that these people were the beneficiaries of Mahathir’s Project IC and have been living in Sabah for many years.
The initial soft approach taken by the government and their attempts to downplay the seriousness of the situation raises questions that need to be answered. How did these people manage to land in such great numbers undetected by our sophisticated and expensive armory and weaponry? Why did the Home Minister say they were ‘neither militants nor terrorists’ when they were clearly armed and had planned and carried out their operation with precision and without detection by our patrols and armed forces? People were given a false sense of security when in fact, our national security was being compromised. Why were the police sent in instead of the armed forces? The government finally got their act together and decided to send in the army after we had lost 8 precious lives, lives that could have been spared if our leaders had the sense to do what was necessary at the beginning.
Perhaps the authorities were reluctant to take firm action because of the possibility of a backlash from the illegal IC community on Sabah. That the situation developed in this manner is due largely to the meddling in the demographics of Sabah by the UMNO government of Dr Mahathir. Without the ‘Project IC’ illegal immigrants in Sabah, these invaders would not have found it so easy to infiltrate and blend into the local population, and they certainly would not have ready sympathizers willing to help them. This is indeed a case of ‘Your sins will find you out’ for Dr Mahathir. Unfortunately, the people of Sabah are the ones paying for his sins. Dr Mahathir’s unhelpful comments about the handling of the invasion lead many to believe that he is still calling the shots in this country and that Najib Razak is a mere administrator instead of a leader.
The operation in Sabah yesterday was labeled a success by the IGP who declared that they had achieved their objective. However, there was no information on bodycount and arrests – how can the public be assured that the operation was a success in the absence of evidence to the effect? We want to know whether all 234 invaders have been killed or captured. Hours later, it was reported that the air strikes had missed the forces of the invaders. Added to that, it was reported in the Philippines press that Habib Hashim Mudjahab, chair of the MNLF’s Islamic Council Committee, had said that thousands of Tausags were coming to the aid of their beleaguered comrades here and that the reinforcements ‘sailed in small numbers so they can easily penetrate Sabah unnoticed.’ He also said ‘We can easily go to Sabah and blend with the people there.’ That statement really hits home. I am certain that in the 3 weeks during which the government was carrying on their soft negotiations, the intruders had fanned out into the villagers and melded into the local population.
The problem in Sabah is far from over and we would be very unwise to be lulled into a false sense of security. These men are still out there and our armed forces will have a difficult time flushing them out. The years of ineptness, incompetence and deceit of the BN government are now coming back to haunt us. Further, it will require a large security force to contain and confront these invaders. Their known and displayed ability to indulge in non-conventional warfare and evident local support will pose serious challenges to our security forces. In counter insurgency/ guerilla warfare a force ratio of 10:1 is ideally required and that will involve huge expenditure of resources to counter even a small force. The operation is likely to also take time if the invaders meld into the population, as they have doubtless done so.
Sabah being a close neighbour of Sarawak, it is natural that Sarawakians are concerned that the crisis should be resolved quickly. That the claim of the Sulus now extends to Sarawak has alarmed the people of Sarawak. From the handing of the situation in Sabah, the people have no confidence in the government’s capability to protect our sovereign rights. Our borders are long and unprotected for long stretches and it is no secret that to cross over is very easy. To my mind, if the Federation of Malaysia is unable to effectively provide the protection promised to Sabah and Sarawak, then the answer lies locally. It is at times like these that we remember with pride the Sarawak Rangers, now part of the Royal Ranger Regiment with its Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban motto. The Sarawak Rangers earned a formidable reputation during the communist insurgency and taught the British SAS jungle tracking in the 1950s and 1960s. Sarawakians would feel more at ease if this regiment is dispatched to Sabah and Sarawak to help end the invasion and ensure our security. This would go a long way towards reassuring the people of their safety. Ultimately, we need to consider reviving our Sarawak Rangers to guard our beloved Sarawak.
In the meantime, we express our support for the members of the armed forces and police who are on duty out in the field to safeguard our people and country. We pray that there will be no further loss of lives.
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan/
Chairman, PKR Sarawak