LAHAD DATU, July 31 — Residents living around the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) are able to go about their daily life without fear and they believe the peaceful situation will continue with the presence of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom).

Most residents have expressed confidence in the commitment and dedication of the security forces comprising the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in working together under ESSCom to maintain the security and protect the sovereignty of the nation.

Kampung Bakapit Village Development and Security Committee (JPKK) member, Mohd Shah Abd Hassan, said residents are now able to go out to earn a living, even late at night, safe in the knowledge that regular land and sea patrols are being carried out by the security forces.

“Before the set-up of ESSCom, people were afraid to go out to work, especially late in the day, as their villages are located close to the sea,” he told Bernama.

Mohd Shah, 55, said security has been strengthened through information sharing following close cooperation developed between the Kampung Bakapit community and the security forces.

Meanwhile, Juliana Binjin, a Kampung Remang JPKK member said, the establishment of ESSCom was like giving the residents a second chance to lead a prosperous life because the terrorist invasion in Tanduo in 2013 was a traumatic experience for the people of Lahad Datu.

“With ESSCom, we feel more secure, because we see people going out to work,” she added

Juliana, 48, also proposed that the government set up ESSCom control posts along the coastal areas.

A retail shop trader in Kampung Ulu Segangan here, Abd Hamid Abd Rasyid, 58, also proposed that control posts be set up at floating villages to prevent illegal immigrant infiltration and cross-border crimes.

“If we study the earlier statistics, ESSCom managed to prevent several kidnapping attempts. When kidnappings occur, that does not mean ESSCom is no longer effective.

“Instead, we need to reinforce weaknesses in order to further strengthen control in the ESSZone to make it harder for illegal immigrants to gain entry,” he said.

According to Abd Hamid, ESSCom is always relevant to carry out the responsibility of maintaining security in the waters of the ESSZone and this government initiative to protect national sovereignty through the security forces should not be politicised.

In Semporna, seaweed entrepreneur Manan Aliraman, 50, from Pulau Menampilik, said the peace and security enjoyed by the people in Semporna must be attributed to the diligence and continuous efforts of the government.

“Semporna was once very much feared by visitors and outsiders because of the security threat here, but now, the place is swarmed by tourists,” he said adding that the peaceful situation has allowed residents to earn their livelihood at sea, including cultivating seaweeds. — Bernama