TENOM, Aug 29, 2015:

The government will always take a cautious stand over the spread of the Islamic State (IS) ideology and its threat to security, especially in Sabah.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said thethreat demanded that the government, including the security forces, view the situation as something which is complicated and comprehensive.

“This is because there is a movement to openly support the IS fight, including creating an Islamic territory in this region,” he told reporters after opening the Tenom Umno division annual delegates meeting here today.

Present were Tenom Umno chief Datuk Rubin Balang; Tenom Umno deputy chief Datuk Raime Unggi, who is also Tenom MP; and Tenom Umno Youth chief Jamawi Jaafar, who is also Umno Malaysia Youth information chief.

According to Hishammuddin, armed militant groups from south Philippines, including the Moro National Liberation Front under the leadership of Nur Misuari, had also openly declared support for the IS.

However, he said that although Sabah’s situation and security was peaceful and under control, the government was taking all necessary steps to ensure the spread of the IS ideology did not pose any threat to the country.

He said this included increasing security surveillance along Sabah’s east coast, including strengthening joint efforts among enforcement agencies via the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

Hishammuddin said Malaysia had increased the sharing of intelligence information and scope of cooperation with security forces from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines to curb the spread of the IS ideology in this region.

“The intelligence is not only from us (Malaysia) but also from the Philippines and Indonesia… I know my counterparts from both countries as well as Brunei are very aware of this threat.”

The minister added that intelligence and surveillance were also conducted on individuals who returned home from Iraq and Syria for fear that they might spread the IS ideology in the region.

He said the IS phenomenon and threat demanded that the government, including security forces, viewed the situation as something complicated and comprehensive.

On the loyalty, unity and cohesiveness of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) members in Sabah, Hishammuddin, who is also Umno vice-president, said it should be emulated by leaders and members in other states.

This is because, he noted, despite their problems, Umno leaders and party members in the state were not disunited and remained strong to ensure continuity of the party’s struggles.

“The test to the leadership is to be constantly faced with a crisis. In this context, Sabah has passed that test,” he said, praising the leadership of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman for keeping Umno and BN in Sabah strong and united despite facing various tests and crises.

He added that what Umno was currently undergoing was not new and in fact it had encountered tougher tests.

“But, thankfully, history has also shown that when faced with a crisis, the Umno leadership will continue its struggles, Umno members will be united, and after the crisis, the party becomes stronger.”

At the event, Hishammuddin accepted 500 applications for membership from the Tenom Umno division which were handed over to Rubin.

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