February 25, 2013
Lahad Datu Incursion: Filipinos have invaded Sabah
The invasion of Sabah last week by more than 200 armed Pinoys brings back memory of the ill-fated Jabidah force. In 1968, a group of Muslim irregulars were trained at the Corregidor Island to invade Sabah. When some of the trainees discovered the sinister plot, they tried to escape. A number were gunned down. That ended temporarily Manila’s attempt to reclaim Sabah by force.
Could this incident be a renewed attempt to reclaim Sabah by force? The difference this time around is the armed foreigners have reached our shores under all kinds of pretext. Instead of arresting and charging them, for breaching our national security, we gave them VIP treatment.
Our reaction defies logic and common sense.
There is a double standard in the treatment. Our leaders seem to turn a blind eye to armed foreigners. Under the Malaysian law, it is mandatory death penalty for any Malaysian committing offences in security areas for possession of firearms and explosives (Section 57(1) of the Internal Security Act 1960).
Invading another state is a treasonable offence. In many countries, the offence usually carries death penalty. Imagine what Manila would do if one hundred Malaysians armed with rifles and rocket launchers were caught in the Philippine town of Cotabato in Mindanao? Manila would probably hang them.
A diplomatic protest note would follow and a state of war declared. Manila would probably request for the Security Council at the United Nations to be convened to discuss a grave matter of invasion.
Because our Government has not been transparent on this sensitive national security issue, it raises all kinds of insinuation. Some say the Government is complicit in this case as the border is not that porous; we have layers and layers of defence in depth.
Everybody was in the area: the Maritime Enforcement Agency (Coast Guard), the Marine Police and the Royal Malaysian Navy vessels. On land, the Army and Police had been there since Sabah joined Malaysia. In the air, the kumpits carrying the armed invaders were easy targets for the RMAF. Not to forget, the area of Lahat Datu is within radar range.
It is time for our Government to come clean on this invasion by the armed men from the Philippines. Perhaps, there should be a White Paper for consideration of our Parliament. Playing coy is not acceptable. Our Government must explain this invasion to the rakyat and reassure them that serious steps are being taken to prevent future incidents of this nature which challenge our sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is the least we must expect of any responsible government.
It is indeed disgraceful that our Prime Minister has chosen to remain silent on the matter, leaving his Minister of Home Affairs to deal with it.
What went wrong
What went wrong? Why were they not stopped at sea? Is it a failure in intelligence or it was done on purpose to remind the Sabahans that something untoward could happen if they choose to vote the Opposition.
Whatever it is, it would seem that the project has backfired. At the time of writing, despite promises to the contrary, the armed bandits remain.
Invasion is a form of external threat. Under our law, the crisis should be handled by the military and the Ministry of Foreign affairs. But getting the media attention are the members of the Field Force and the Minister of Home Affairs.
Has our Minister of Defence gone hiding? Where is the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Has he surrendered his fate and taken the easiest way out?
ASEAN turns a blind eye
The ASEAN Secretary General is too very quiet. No ASEAN country has made any statement. There is little evidence of any form of diplomatic shuttle by Brunei, the ASEAN Chair. Are they saying that invasion is okay so long as it does not happen to them?Is everybody pretending that all is well in ASEAN?