Call for speedy end to stand-off
by Chok Sim Yee. Posted on February 22, 2013, FridayKOTA KINABALU: Business and industry-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sabah have called for a speedy end to the stand-off between the band of Sulu gunmen and Malaysian security forces in a village in Lahad Datu.
In a joint press statement yesterday, the business and industry bodies urged the Government to resolve the problem as soon as possible to assuage the uneasiness and reduce perception of instability and insecurity which may ultimately affect the investment climate and economy of the state.
Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau said the stand-off had been reported in the international media such as CNN and Al-Jazeera, thus it has created fears and uneasy feeling among the business communities and the people in Sabah.
“This should not be delayed unnecessarily.
“We appeal to the Federal Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence to do what is necessary as soon as possible,” he said.
The Malaysian Government machinery must not be seen to be weak and compromising at all times, he said.
“We are not saying that the Government is not doing the right thing.
“There has to be an amicable solution. We support the idea, but make sure it does not take too long,” Wong stressed when elaborating on the first of four resolutions adopted by some 30 NGOs in Sabah.
Their second resolution was an appeal to the federal authorities concerned to strengthen and step up security surveillance along the long sea border, especially in the east coast of Sabah.
Wong said that in the past 10 years, five serious incidents had happened in Sabah, including a bank robbery in Lahad Datu in the 80s, and the most recent kidnapping of two bird’s nest farmers. The cases remain unresolved.
The NGOs hoped that the Government could review the border security situation, particularly the effectiveness of the security surveillance.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to look into this seriously so that people in Sabah could have peace of mind,” he said.
The third resolution was a call to settle or bring an end to this festering issue of Sulu sultanate’s claim on Sabah by insisting on the setting up of a Philippine consulate in the state.
“We need support from both sides of the political divide to join hands and work as a team with the Philippine Government to resolve this issue.
“The statement made by some intruders that Sabah is their homeland is something most people in Sabah view as uncalled for,” he said.
The NGOs also appealed to the Philippine Government in Manila to consider the request for consulate seriously and effectively work towards resolving the ‘claim on Sabah’ issue as a long-term solution to our predicament.
“We should tap our current good relationship that we have between the two governments, especially the Philippine Government who should reciprocate the good gesture of the Malaysian Government for willingly assisting them in the peace process in southern Philippines.”
The business and industry bodies also urged the public to avoid speculations and spreading unsubstantiated claims that may cause the situation to worsen as the intrusion is a sensitive issue of threat to our country’s security.
“As responsible citizens, wherever possible, don’t spread rumours because they are not good for the business sectors,” Wong said.
He said a friend of his who is operating a business in Lahad Datu was forced to close his shop numerous times due to rumours.
He said such acts would drive away investors and cause discomfort and uneasiness among business operators.
The business and industry bodies also stated that the people should be thankful to the security forces who were doing their best to defend our state as they were only receiving instructions from those in power.
Among those who were present at the press conference were representatives from the Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI), Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Sabah branch and Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah.