Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5. Sure to drag on and on...

Weariness is creeping in as stand-off drags on

LAHAD DATU: Weariness is creeping in as the stand-off drags on for the second week between Malaysian security and the Sulu armed group at the seaside village of Tanduo in the east coast of Sabah.
Negotiations on various levels are still in progress with several deadlines passed.
However, there is no clear indications as to when the Sulu armed men, whose number exceeds 100, will be deported.
The police, army and the coastguards have maintained their positions, not confronting the group as the authorities hope to come to a solution without any bloodshed incurred.
Police commandos and sniper units were in position around the 20sq km radius land and sea cordon and an inner security ring as close as 500m from the Kampung Tanduo farming homes in Felda Sahabat 17 about 165km from here.
“We are on standby and very alert.
“We are holding up in the oil palm plantation and awaiting orders from the higher-ups,” a security official said, adding that even a medical team was in place.
The group led by Sulu Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram has also appeared to be running short of water and food sourced from the farms that had been abandoned by the villagers who fled after the arrival of the first group of gunmen on Feb 9.
Farmers and plantation workers have been kept out of the security cordon with many of them complaining that they were unable to harvest their oil palm and other fruit trees.
Along the coast, fishermen have complained that they were unable to fish as the Sulu Sea was out of bounds.
“Each day the Sulu group is allowed to stay in Tanduo, I lose about RM6,000 in daily income,” fishing fleet owner Francis Chong said.
Chong said that each trawler going out to the Sulu Sea returns with a catch of 6,000 to 10,000 tonnes of fish a day.
“But now I have sent four other trawlers to fish in Darvel Bay and Semporna (south of Lahad Datu),” he said, adding that the retail price of fish in the market here had gone up by about 30%.
Chief Minister and state security committee chairman Datuk Musa Aman said that the security forces were in control and have exercised great restraint in dealing with the intruders.
He also added that the restraint was not a sign of weakness but a deeper understanding about the complexity of the issue.
Lahad Datu-born former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee said that the people should have every confidence in the armed forces and police who have the capability to repel the armed intruders.
But political will and decisive action is required to defend Sabah and Malaysia’s sovereignty, said Yong, who is the Sabah Progressive Party’s president.
In PETALING JAYA, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the situation in Lahad Datu is under control.
“We would like to assure everyone that the situation remains peaceful and there is no cause for concern,” he told pressmen after presenting awards to 50 exem-plary motorists at KL Sentral yesterday.

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