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SEMPORNA, June 12, 2015:

Those employing foreign workers in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) should provide their worker profiles to facilitate Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to monitor security in the area.

Esscom intelligence deputy director ACP Hashim Justin said such measures were important as four cases of kidnapping in Semporna, Kunak and Lahad Datu were believed to have been masterminded by their own workers who did not have valid travel documents.

“We also believe the kidnapping at the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan was masterminded by insiders or the restaurant workers.

“As such, we are instructing fishermen, including large ship owners to cooperate by providing a complete profile, including background and photographs of workers.

“This is a requirement and we want worker profiles to be submitted to Esscom as quick as possible.

“We want to flush out infiltrators within Esszone. This is a major challenge for Esscom in confronting criminals from other countries, as well as those already in Sabah.”

Hashim was speaking at an Esscom dialogue session with the fishing community in Semporna here today.

He said Esscom took a serious view of the matter and warned the people, including employers and fishermen, not to conspire with illegal immigrants or harbour them.

“We also told fishermen to be our eyes and ears in monitoring the movements of foreign boats in view of threats of cross-border criminals.”

He said since 2000, at least 12 cases of kidnapping were reported in Esszone, but the total was far lower than 75 cases which took place in southern Philippines last year.

On the integrated operation to track down illegal immigrants and curb smuggling activities in Esszone, Hashim said the operation was successful in returning local traders to the markets in towns under Esszone and reduce smuggling activities, especially subsidised diesel and gas to neighbouring countries.

“For example, before the integrated operation was implemented in Tawau, about 300 tanks of gas were smuggled to Pulau Sebatik daily, which means 9,000 tanks of gas every month and there are only about 5,000 residents in Pulau Sebatik.

“According to intelligence, the surplus cooking gas was sold to residents on the Indonesian side of Pulau Sebatik.

“The people who profited were gas retailers in Tawau…it is not surprising there were complaints that the integrated operation was affecting the economy in Esszone.

“According to estimates, thousands of gas drums smuggled from Malaysia to a neighbouring country have not been returned to our country.”

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