Security has always been one of the pertinent issues in Sabah due to the state’s close proximity to a volatile region in the southern Philippines. This has been compounded by the long and porous coastline that needs constant patrolling and the large cross-border traffic between the two countries that is difficult to control. Although many instances, the breach of security has been associated with the east coast of Sabah, it has permeated into the whole state due to the presence of illegal immigrants, illegal foreign workers and location of resettlement camps and the hype portrayed by the media whenever there is breach of security in the state.
Lately, security aspects have been a topic of concerns, mentioned by various state leaders in the media. Issues highlighted include the need to beef up the defense assets and manpower by providing more funds for the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) security to tackle piracy and kidnapping issues. Other issues mentioned include the presence of illegal settlements near tourist attractions which were attributed to contribute to the rise of rampant criminal activities in these areas, i.e. illegals impersonating as workers at local tourist attractions to steal from tourists.
In addition, security threats such as well-publicized abductions, continued sea curfew and foreign countries issuance of travel advisories warning their citizens against visiting east coast of Sabah have hampered economic development and investment especially on the east coast of Sabah. However, confidence in the security situation is returning as shown by the investment in accommodations and tourism facilities in Semporna.
All these happenings have prompted renewed calls for discussion at state and federal levels on how to better protect visitors to the east coast of Sabah and make Sabahans generally feel safer at home.
Topics for the seminar:
- The Malaysia Government’s Policy and Strategies on Sabah Security: Key Issues and Challenges
- Role of Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) on Cross-Border Security: Understanding the Issues, Strategies and Mitigating Measures
- Crime Scenario in Sabah
- Non-Military Approach and Management of Cross-Border Crime in the East Coast of Sabah
- The Impacts of Illegal Immigrants, Border Crimes and ESSZONE Curfew on Sabah’s Tourism Industry
- Impacts of Cross-Border Crimes on the Investment Climate and Socio-Economic Activities in Sabah
- Update on the Current Security Situation in the Southern Philippines, Issues and Potential for Peace and Security in the Region
- Addressing Security Issues in Sabah: The Way Forward