Yet another BN white elephant?


This latest kidnapping forces the question – just how effective has Esscom been? Or does Esscom make a difference?

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Safety is an issue Putrajaya keeps taking for granted. From the missing MH370 jetliner belonging to national carrier Malaysia Airlines to yet another abduction in Sabah, both events reveal the painful truth – the Malaysian government has been lax in dealing with safety of the nation and its people.

Had safety been paramount to the ruling Barisan Nasional government, there would have been no stopping the relevant agencies from updating their security databases with the help of Interpol.

It was the ‘taking safety for granted’ that led to two foreigners boarding the missing flight using stolen passports.

While the search and rescue struggle for flight MH370 continues, Malaysia has been stunned with yet another crisis – this time the abduction of two women from the Singamata Reef Resort, which is some five minutes away from Sabah’s Semporna town.

On April 2, several armed gunned men kidnapped Gao Hua Yua, 29, from Shanghai and the resort employee Marcy Dayawan alias Mimi, 40.

In a knee-jerk reaction, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak claimed the attack could be an attempt to stir up more trouble between China and Malaysia after the strain between Malaysian authorities and families of the Chinese passengers on board the missing flight MH370.

“The government does not rule out the possibility that the kidnappings in Semporna were done by certain parties to muddy Malaysia-China relations,” Najib was quoted saying by Malaysian news agency during his visit to the Australian staging base for the massive search for flight MH370.

It was reported that Muslim terrorist outfit Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the kidnapping. On Saturday BBC reported a massive manhunt for “Haji Gulam”, former Moro National Liberation Front member, now a sub-leader for Abu Sayyaf in Simunul in southern Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf was also involved in the kidnapping of 21 people from another Sabah resort in 2000. The hostages were released within five months, reportedly after hefty ransoms were paid.

But then breach of security in Sabah has been a long standing issue. The 2000 kidnapping, last February’s Lahad Datu incursion and last November’s abduction of a Taiwanese tourist in a resort off Semporna are just some of the many cases of crime, abduction and incursions plaguing Sabah.

That abductions can happen after the government’s RM75 million Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) was put in place on March 7, 2013, is baffling.

Esscom was touted to boost security along Sabah’s east coast has clearly failed to measure up. It covers the districts of Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, Sandakan and Lahad Datu in Sabah.

Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa had then announced that Esscom would be helmed by Sabah Immigration director Mohammad Mentek.

“Mohammad, 48, has vast experience in the fields of human resource development and management, finance and security.

“I believe his qualification, experience, knowledge and credibility will enable him to helm Esscom well and ensure public order and security in the special security zone,”Ali said in March 2013.

Presumptuous M’sian authorities

Looks like Ali was presumptuous in his belief that both Esscom and its director-general Mohammad Mentek would once and for all put an end to crimes beleaguering Sabah.

Mohammad had gone on to say that Malaysian authorities believed the two hostages were safe and the kidnappers have already made contact with the family of the Chinese tourist.

On April 4, Mohammad revealed that his intelligence unit managed to locate the two foreign nationals and that the duo are safe and in good condition.

But Esscom’s intelligence unit was unable to rescue the two captured women. Why?

This latest kidnapping forces the question – just how effective has Esscom been? Or does Esscom make a difference?

If the April 2 abduction serves an indication, it paints a grim scenario of how despite having pumped in millions into Esscom, the federal government has yet again disappointed the people of Sabah.

Is Esscom yet another ‘white elephant’ of the BN regime, going by the shocking revelation by Esscom that it is powerless to give direct orders to the 10 districts under it?