12th March 2018
PLEASE DATUK HISHAMUDDIN, DO NOT CLAIM SUCCESS FOR THE LAHAD DATU INCIDENT
Bernama report on 11 Mar 18 referred to the Minister of Defence, Datuk Hishamuddin’s
comments on Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto regarding security in Sabah. The report
attributed the minister to remark that ‘the Lahad Datu’s intrusion was proof that the
government was able to protect the state and the people from terrorists despite being
accused an UMNO drama’.
Contrary to what Hishamuddin’s implied claim of success in the Lahad Datu incident, which
happened from 11 Feb to 11 Mar 2013, many veterans and senior officers still in service
considered it an ignominious failure. Failure had been on several counts. In the first place,
our intelligence service failed to detect the 200 odds heavily armed Sulu militants prior to
their intrusion. As it was a foreign-armed incursion, without doubt, the first order should
have been shoot to kill and not to negotiate. Even if for some reasons there was a need to
negotiate, prior to negotiation our security forces should have moved in to gain tactical
ground and advantage. It was only after two weeks of unsuccessful negotiation that the
security forces were ordered in to engage the Sulu militants. Patriot feels sad that we have
to lose ten brave officers and men during the protracted engagement with the militants that
lasted five weeks.
Had from the beginning the command of the whole operation rested on the top general, the
ground commander, Patriot has no doubt the whole operation would have ended within a
few days, with maximum kills of the enemies, and minimum casualties on our side. The
problem was with ministers and civilians trying to behave as commanders that they foolishly
The aftermath of the Lahad Datu foreign incursion led to the establishment of ESSCOM and
ESSZONE, which is a right step forward. In a highly security threat zone, the commander of
ESSCOM should be someone either from the military or police, certainly not a civilian.
Protecting Sabah’s security and its tourism industry is essential. The commander for ESSCOM
is befitting for someone very capable and a no-nonsense type. Since the 2013 Lahad Datu
incursion, there had been seven kidnap-for- ransom incidents. Such incidents are indicative
of red marks report card on security which Hishamuddin should not be proud.
Besides kidnap-for- ransom, there are other organized crimes such as human trafficking,
smuggling of firearms, diesel, cigarettes, and consumer goods like cooking oil. Illegal
immigrants, estimated to be around one million (about a third of Sabah’s population), are a
huge problem in Sabah. It is also a security threat. In view of the latest development, a think
tank comprising all relevant agencies should be established to come out with a blue print for
defending Sabah and the surrounding region.
Pertaining to the subject on the security of Sabah, and particularly on the IC issue,
establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with a Sabahan as the chairperson, to
seek fair solution to the IC problem, is a sensible way forward. The IC problem has plagued
the state for decades and political will to solve the problem is lacking. Additionally, Patriot
suggests starting a documentation process for all immigrants, including those who hold IC.
We suggest permanent residence status be given to those who have stayed more than two
decades, and without criminal record. All other illegal immigrants are to be deported.
Water villages along the east coast of Sabah are hot beds for crime and smuggling activities.
Covert intelligence activities need to step up. A feedback mechanism on the movement of
strangers needs to be in place as eyes and ears in ESSZONE. Barter trading activities need to
be closely monitored as well, as it is usually through this channel that most smuggling
activities take place.
Patriot agrees with the need to beef up the strength of the security forces in Sabah as the
maritime boundary is very porous. Allocation to purchase more naval patrol crafts,
establishing more forwards bases, and more exercises to involve our Quick Reaction Forces,
are necessary. Predominantly a maritime nation, our nation should now focus more in
expanding the navy, to protect our claimed islands in South China Sea and the coast of
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) has nothing personal against Hishamuddin. Our
constructive criticism is done in good faith with the intention to help put things right, to help
build a better nation.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan
(PPM -005- 14-22052017)