Pulau Balik in Sabah is an island located deep inside Dravel Bay, according to Google. It is not close to the Philippines border.
The fact that a manager of the cage fish breeding company was kidnapped here shows there is a major problem within our security forces.
Whatever happens in Sabah waters is trivial compared to those happening in the Straits of Melaka.
So the warning by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general is just a case of paranoia and should not be taken seriously.
Lets look at the facts. When the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was signed, Sabah and Sarawak was promised security, among others, by Kuala Lumpur.
Sabah kept its word and the Berjaya government allocated hundreds of thousands of acres in the Lahad Datu peninsula for Felda settlements for ex-military personnel.
The Berjaya administration thought that this way the military will have extra incentive to maintain Sabah security especially those bordering the Philippines.
However, Felda of today has forgotten its initial promise and the reason it was allotted this vast tracts of land.
These days Felda is more interested in playing the corporate game than fulfilling its the obligation to Sabah in the Lahad Datu peninsular.
But then, this is the problem with Malaya (Peninsular).
Before they get anything they will promise the moon.
But after they get what they want, they will throw away even written contracts.
Now, whenever Sabah brings up the issue those responsible have the audacity to say they did not sign the agreement and ask instead that we take it up with the dead signatories.
Sabah needs different tactic
The security breach in Lahad Datu and the east coast Sabah is not new.
The Mundu – this is what the locals call these marauders – have been harassing the Sabah eastern coast for hundreds of years.
On April 29, 1954, Semporna was attacked and for three long hours the town was a hell hole.
In response, the British with their very limited resource established a police radio base on the Island of Bohey Dulong.
Instead of a garrison of police or soldiers, the British put on this island a lone police radio operator.
His job was to scan the sea around this island and radio in any intrusions.
That was how the British managed the borders between Sabah and the Philippines.
Just a lone police radio operator and his pair of binoculars living on his own for months without reinforcement.
My father had the honour of being the eyes of British North Borneo during those trying times. Despite the limited resources, they managed to frustrate the marauders .
Today with all the sophisticated equipment, policemen and soldiers they cannot even stop kidnappers from entering the Sabah waters.
What is happening in Sabah today is a different type of guerrilla warfare, one which Peninsular army and police are not trained to do.
Fighting in Sabah waters is vastly different from combating the communist guerrillas in the borders of Pahang, Perak and Kedah.
Sabah needs different tactics.
So far Esscom and the security in the east coast is not showing any progress.
Our security forces are clueless as to how to differentiate between the marauders and hundreds of genuine fishermen in that area.
Unless the security forces can show some tangible results, Sabah may as well be a “fixed-deposit” of a different kind.
Zainnal Ajamain has held several senior positions in the civil service and government think tanks. He has worked as a lecturer, researcher, stockbroker and has published several papers in international media journals. He helped organise the United Borneo Front (UBF) grouping and remains active in politics.