LAHAD DATU: Although armed men have been sighted in several locations in Sabah, the two top Malaysian security force chiefs have assured that the state is safe.
The assurance came from the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar and Malaysian Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin during a joint press conference at the Felda Residence Sahabat here yesterday.
“It is business as usual in Lahad Datu and other places in Sabah. I would like to assure the tourists that it is safe to travel to Sabah,” said Ismail.
He said to date, no curfews have been issued and the people should stop spreading and believing rumours spread through the social media.
Zulkifeli, meanwhile, said the situation is “under full control” and the general public, including those within the Rancangan Felda Sahabat vicinity, have no reason to be worried.
“The incident is restricted within a small area (in Kampung Tanduo) and we have cordoned up the area, we are in control of the situation,” he said.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun had tweeted on Saturday: “Sabah is safe, the tourism industry is not affected by the event in Kg Tanduo, Lahad Datu. It’s business as usual at all our island resorts.”
Zulkifeli also said the Malaysian armed forces are not worried about the Sultan of Sulu’s followers’ guerilla tactics and combat experience.
In fact, he has assured that they have the means and ways to end the on-going stand-off at Kampung Tanduo, some 150 kilometres from here.
“We have identified where they are believed to be, right at the centre of an area (within the Felda Sahabat vicinity), but with their people spread out, snipers and so on. So they know that we cannot go in without any casualties.
“So because the area is open, we have our plans, but we cannot rush things. What is important is that we have contained them and they are unable to go anywhere. They are unable to cause much harm.
“They are under close surveillance of our special forces and we have got to put this episode to closure as soon as possible … but it will take time,” said Zulkifeli.
He said although the Malaysian armed forces have the means, they will have to be very deliberate.
“There has to be joint planning between the police general operations force and members of the armed forces.”
He said the security forces have blocked both the air and sea borders using all the means at their disposal.
“As you are fully aware, Sabah waters are very wide, but we try to watch them and guard our sea borders as much as possible using the technical means we have,” he said.
Zulkifeli said they would beef up their manpower to assure the people that their safety is protected.
Meanwhile, State police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the police and the army are in the midst of finalizing details before taking drastic action against the armed group claiming to be the Royal Sulu Army that entered Kampung Tanduo about three weeks ago.
Hamza said the group had been given the opportunity to surrender and the police had dropped flyers to warn the group, but they had refused to retreat.
He said the situation in Kampung Tanduo was still under control and he urged the people to stop spreading and listening to rumours.
“Do not trust the rumours or information that have not been confirmed by the authorities as it could cause panic among the people,” he said.
On Saturday, the police dropped flyers to the intruders and urged them to surrender or face drastic action from the security forces.
However, the armed group refused to retreat and remained there claiming that they do not have to leave their own land.
The incident which has now entered the third week, have resulted in casualties when two Malaysian commandos were killed in the shooting incident on Friday morning.