TAWAU, Nov 1 – The attempts by extremist groups from the Southern Philippines to create tension in Sabah are futile and would not serve to benefit the local Suluk community, according to a grassroot leader here. Sabah Suluk Solidarity Council secretary Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto said the groups’ action to undermine Malaysia’s sovereignty had impacted negatively on local Suluks whose origins could be traced to Sulu, Southern Philippines.
He urged the community, now an ethnic group in Sabah to guard against being drawn to the extremists who were out to indoctrinate them. “We should be grateful that we have become Malaysian citizens. Compared to the Suluks in the Southern Philippines we are far better off and living peacefully here,” he said in a statement here Saturday.
Mohd Zaki who is also chairman of the Association of Youth Communities in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone), said it was incumbent on the Suluk community to prove their loyalty to Malaysia. He said they should reject any attempt to fan racist sentiments among the population, for the sake of sustaining peace beyond this generation.
Meanwhile, he urged the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) not to focus its omni presence on the ESSZone alone but to also reinforce its show of force inland. “The people’s confidence in the security of the state will be enhanced if the show of force is visible not just within the 10 districts in the ESSZone. “Such strength will also nip in the bud, any attempt of perpetration by terrorists who may have long infiltrated and assimilated themselves into the local community,” he said.
ESSCom was established on April 1, 2013, following the terrorist intrusion at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu the same year. ESSZone, covering 1,733.7 kilometres, comprises the 10 districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.