Boosting Security in the East Coast of Sabah

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2 days after this July, 9th Daily Express report, 8 masked men went up to Pulau Mabul, Semporna and shot up a resort there. 1 Marine Police personnel was killed while another went missing (and since determined to have been kidnapped by the intruders). What a slap on ESSCOM face as well as Malaysia’s. The situation has gone bad to worse: from kidnapping, now to outright murder.

Today, in the Sabah State Legislative Assembly, there was a huge debate about the deficiencies and failings of ESSCOMM and security in the east coast of Sabah.

One of the ways to boost security in this troubled region is by improving the interdiction capability of the security forces – Police, Army, Navy and APMM – by building strategically-located helipads. The police helicopters, of which the buying of more has been recently announced by the government, can hop from one helipad to another like dragonflies. One of the reasons why the intruders penetrate the border into Sabah with impunity is that they know they can outrace the Navy, APMM and police boats with their high-powered speedboats.

The attack helicopters, which could jump from nowhere, and much faster than government sea crafts, will deter these speedy intruders. Just the treat of a fast and certain interdiction will deter these criminals. To cut costs, the government need not have to station a helicopter in each of the helipads all the time; they just have to be random and stealthy about choosing which to standby for the day.

Helipads can be built cheaply because these are small, about only 5,000 square feet, and don’t even have to be sealed like airport tarmac. The Army can transport a small bulldozer by helicopter and flatten land even in remote but strategic islands to make helipads. (SESB did that when building the West-East electricity high tension towers.)

The Malaysian Air Force do have limited UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) capability and expertise. The ideal would be to have a U.S. border patrol and interdiction-like capability with the use of UAV or drones, such as the Predator drone, that can be flew aloft for close to 24 hours. But these drones are expensive and so is the supporting control systems and network. That is assuming the U.S. is willing to sell the hardware and know how.

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