‘Traitors’ are biggest thorn | The Star

KOTA KINABALU: Whistleblowers continue to be among the biggest challenges facing security forces protecting the east coast of Sabah from cross-border criminals.

Syed Zulkiflee, deputy chief of staff for the Intelligence Branch (Armed Forces) of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), said the presence of such whistleblowers in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) meant criminals were one step ahead.

Based on tips from such whistleblowers, he said criminals such as kidnappers, terrorists, smugglers and fish bombers would know about shift changes in the security forces, the location of empty patrol posts, safe routes or when an area was “vacant”. .

The cooperation between spies and criminals is based on “supply and demand” and is money-motivated, he said yesterday during a lecture on the “Kita Demi Negara” show here.

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“So who are these informants? They are “locals” who live on the east coast,” he said, adding that the definition of “locals” in Sabah is “a bit fuzzy.”

For example, people are born and raised in this state but without valid identification documents because they are descendants of illegal immigrants who have settled in Sabah.

Not all Sabahans would recognize them as “the people of Sabah,” he added.

Zulkifle urged the public, particularly those on the East Coast, to be the eyes and ears of the security forces and not even think about becoming whistleblowers and “traitors” to the country.

“I’m an intelligence officer, which means I do intelligence and spy jobs, so I’m calling on all of you here today to be our little spies, to be our spies, to protect the sovereignty of this nation.

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“It’s the only way we can secure our nation, our homes and our families,” he said.

Zulkiflee also spoke about other threats such as those from Abu Sayyaf kidnappers, Royal Sulu Force militants and the existence of backdoors and unknown routes into Sabah.

“However, with Esscom and strong connections to our intelligence sources and partners, we are able to bring the number of cases down,” he said.

Citing the example of kidnap-for-ransom cases, he said there had been no kidnappings in Sabah since 2019, proving the ongoing efforts by the security forces and the community are on the right track.

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“This also shows that Sabah’s east coast areas, which are home to some of the best diving and tourism areas, are safe to visit,” he added.

He also spoke about international border disputes and claims on Sabah by nations like Indonesia and the Philippines, adding to the challenges faced by security forces.

But as long as security guards are on site in the dining zone, Zulkifle said, the place is protected.

“Let’s all work together to protect our nation. I am from Johor but I have been in Sabah for several years and we must remain united to uphold our country’s sovereignty,” he added.