Giving credit to where it is due.
What was once a scourge for Sabahans is now slowly becoming a thing of a past.
Abu Sayyaf and other kidnap-for-ransom gangs have largely avoided Sabah waters and now is plying their trade over the Sulu sea. They have found it very difficult and too dangerous for them to enter Sabah waters to perpetrate their dastardly act.
That recognition came from foreign news agency, not the Star.
So how did the government do it? By sheer hard work, quietly behind the scene and not being raja gebang (raja gebang means loudmouth).
ESSCOM was formed to take control of ESSZONE. Using the lessons learnt during the days of RASCOM and SEACOM, both implemented in Sarawak, ESSCOM was formed to administer security in the affected areas. In ESSCOM, where security and civilian personnel get to sit together into a unified structure. This was envisioned to cut down bureaucracy as civil leaders get to understand what is needed to protect their society and likewise.
2. Strengthening the Army in Sabah from half a division to a nearly a full division strength. Credit too to local Sabahans that have volunteered in their local reservist units.
3. Establishing new Forward Operating Bases for Air Force in Tawau. The air base are not only for helicopters but also for the air force's Hawks which had been effective against the Sulu intruders in 2013. The bases has improved the reaction time against any kidnapping attempts. Soon this air base will also house the MD530 Little Bird for QRF team.
4. Establishing 4 sea-bases along the border. Borrowing a concept from US Navy, MINDEF obtained 2 tanker ship and 2 disused oil platform from Petronas for free and redeployed these near to our maritime borders. This idea has now attracted interest from certain parties to be offered as cost effective maritime border policing solution.
5. Basing Armoured element from the Army to Sabah. Started with Adnan and Condor during the Lahad Datu crisis, the Army has now even sent the first 20 units of AV8 Gempita to Sabah, fresh out of the assembly line in Pekan, Pahang.
6. Non-stop black ops. That I never mentioned it before doesn't mean it didn't happen. There was at least 1 incident which happened to be reported by a Chinese daily as it happened in front of their reporter.
7. Procurement of 7.62mm type rifles. The battle in 2013 exposed the weakness of 5.56mm type rifles. In our environment where there is dense foliage, 5.56mm proved to be insufficient to penetrate some of the foliage. Critics may say this is illogical as we had used the 5.56mm rounds successfully against the communists, but they largely forgotten that we had used them concurrently with 7.62mm in fire support role. But with the procurement of FN Minimi 5.56mm PARA, we had inadvertently had reduced effective firepower. (Note: the purchase of the FN Minimi Para is not a mistake but more to doctrine of usage issue).
8. Ban over barter trade which has forced local Mindanao people to stop helping the kidnap gangs. Food supply become scarce and expensive. This forced locals to cooperate with the Philippines Army and police to apprehend these gangs. Right now, they still have leeway. But once Indonesia join to stop barter trade, this will become unbearable for the locals and will turn them against Abu Sayyaf and other KFR (not KFC, as mentioned by the Star reporter, Philip Golinggai).
9. Up-gunning our fire support from 7.62mm LMG to 7.62mm Gatling. More bullets, higher chance of hitting the enemy.
While some of you sceptics may claim if this is true, how did the 4 buggers got kidnapped last April? They were kidnapped just outside our safe zone, after putting themselves there.
Credit to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and his team. Many brickbats were thrown at him and his team for the 2013 intrusion and I must admit I threw quite many too. Now that has been said, it is time to put the same fervour to defend Malaysia as a whole.
But we must never forget those whose lives perished due to the mistakes done by previous government, especially in allowing many undeserving individuals to obtain our citizenship via obscure manner.