Sulu Royal Army evade Sabah attack Southern Philippines militia #ReopeningSafely interstate travel Reopening Safely
Hishammuddin Tun Hussein

KUALA LUMPUR – There is no evidence that the armed militia from Southern Philippines will be attacking Sabah.

Senior Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said, the Malaysian Armed Forces delivered the findings after launching operation and intelligence.

“I have been informed that there was no clear signs or evidence as reported,” he said in a news conference.

However, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) take the report from South China Morning Post on the claims from the ‘Royal Sulu Army’ which is plotting to invade Sabah very seriously.

He said, any threats, whether they are believable or not, must be verified independently and regarded seriously.

“MINDEF and the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) are truly paying attention to the report.

“Our intelligence and security agency have been informed about the matter and is verifying with their counterparts in the Philippines and the region,” he added.

Yesterday, the South China Morning Post reported that the ‘Royal Sulu Army’ is planning an operation to evade Sabah after several secret meetings with 19 Mayors from the Southern Phillipines.

According to that report, all mayors have agreed to recruit at least 600 armed militants to launch the mission.

“The cost of ammunition and other logistics is to be borne by the high-ranking official who also promised to contribute 500,000 pesos (US$10,000) to build 100 speed boats that will be used to attack Sabah,” said the report which quoted a source.

At the same time, Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah said that the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has taken immediate action by increasing the preparedness to the highest level in Sabah to face any possibility of a threat of invasion and to avoid any repeated incident of infiltration in the state.

Elaborating further, Hishammuddin said that the MAF Defence Intelligence Staff Division is monitoring the development and evaluating indicators which could affect the country’s safety.

“I have been informed by the MAF through operations and intelligence, there is no clear signs or solid evidence as reported.

“However, as emphasized by the General of the Armed Forces and IGP, immediate actions will be taken to increase the preparedness to the highest level in Sabah,” he said.

He also instructed all three services via the Eastern Field Commander Lt Gen Datuk Mardzuki Muhammad, Eastern Fleet Commander (RMN) Rear Admiral Datuk Sabri Zali and Air Region 2 Commander (RMAF) Maj Gen Datuk Shamsudin Kassim to increase the preparedness of the armed forces to its highest level, especially in the Sabah East Coast.

At the moment, he said, the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas that is also the sea route between Sabah and Southern Philippines are under the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) initiative which involves Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to ensure the waterway is safe.

“My work relationship with the Defence Minister of Indonesia, Prabowo Subianto and the Secretary of Defence from the Philippines, Delfin Lorenzana is also very close and strong.

“Prabowo Subianto, Secretary Lorenzana and I have agreed to relaunch ministerial level discussions on the TCA and we have planned to meet next January to further strengthen military cooperation among our countries at the Sulu and Sulawesi waters,” he said.

According to Hishammuddin, MINDEF’s utmost priority is to preserve the peace and well-being of Sabah.

He said, he, along with the leadership in MINDEF will continue to ensure that the safety of Sabah would not be easily compromised, and the sovereignty of the country will not be tarnished, regardless of the threats or challenges. -MalaysiaGazette