IRATE with Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein downplaying a news report that Sulu militants are plotting an attack in Sabah, an academic urged the minister not to make light of the matter.
“The report came from a prominent international media and the information looks legitimate. Hishammuddin should not take the matter lightly and take the necessary steps to prevent any attacks like what happened in 2013,” HELP University Faculty of Business, Economics and Accounting and Institute Crime and Criminology senior lecturer R Paneir Selvam told FocusM.
Three days ago, South China Morning Post reported that a secret meeting took place in the southern Philippines, where Sulu militants are plotting to launch an attack on Sabah.
It claimed that in the meeting that took place on Dec 1, where 19 mayors of the Sulu archipelago discussed plans to set up a “Royal Sulu Army” with a target of recruiting up to 600 men to invade Sabah to mark the anniversary of the failed incursion in 2013.
Yesterday, Free Malaysia Today reported Hishammuddin as saying that there was no proof that an armed militia from the southern Philippines are planning to invade Sabah.
“I have been informed by army intelligence that there is no tangible indication or solid evidence on this,” he told a press conference.
However, he assured the public that the Malaysian security forces would beef up their measures, adding the Armed Forces Intelligence Unit was monitoring the matter closely.
Touching on the matter, Paneir Selvam said that Sulu militants had continued to harass Sabahans for decades as they found Malaysian authorities were seemingly “soft” towards them.
He also alleged that Sulu militias in the Southern Philippines were able to carry out kidnappings for ransom in the state as there were locals who “sympathised with their cause”.
“I wish to remind Malaysians, including their sympathisers, that Sulu militants have broken away from al-Qaeda and have embraced Islamic State ideology.
“And they are a bane to our society as they feel our Government is ‘soft’ towards them. We must put an end to this and teach the militants a lesson,” Paneir Selvam stressed.
Reminiscing the past, the academic felt that the Malaysian Government did not deal a decisive blow on the Sulu militants when they encroached Lahad Datu and killed local people.
No mercy when it comes to national security
As for local sympathisers, Paneir Selvam added that there are descendants of the Sulu people who live among Sabahans and the authorities must probe on who are aiding the militants from southern Philippines.
“Let’s be honest to ourselves. There is no way the Sulu militants could gather intelligence and gain entry into Sabah unless there are moles residing in the state or worse, occupying key positions in the civil service.
“This is where our intelligence community and security forces must come in and identify these people and take appropriate action.
“Back in 2013, the Sulu militants knew exactly what to do and they could not have done this without prior espionage work,” he noted.
On whether Hishammuddin was playing down the matter so as to not create a panic, Paneir Selvam said that such a move may backfire on Malaysia.
“To put it plainly, Sulu militants have declared war on us and they proved that point in 2013. So, I don’t think we should be playing the diplomatic game now.
“We have to take firm and decisive action against them. Let’s treat them as the enemy of the state, and rightfully so. Never take national security issues lightly,” he remarked. — Dec 12, 2021