Esscom’s large-scale exercise sees 69 pump boats seized

KOTA KINABALU: Security personnel seized 69 pump boats in a large-scale operation, held simultaneously in four Sabah east coast districts on Saturday (Sept 3), to check criminal activities including cross-border crimes.

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) carried out the exercise in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) from 6am to 6pm, covering waters off Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

Esscom commander Deputy Comm Hamzah Ahmad said the operation, codenamed Ops Gasak Laut, was aimed at curbing the use of pump boats that could threaten national security as well as the public’s safety.

“Based on the record on arrests and observation by the authorities, we found that pump boats were used many times by cross-border criminals who intended to commit kidnappings, robberies, smuggling and fish bombing in the Esszone waters.

“A total of 88 pump boats belonging to locals and foreigners were inspected and 69 were seized for suspicion of violating the Ports and Harbours Enactment 2002.

“The boats were handed over to the Sabah Ports and Harbours Department for further action.” he said in a statement.

DCP Hamzah said 55 people from Indonesia and the Philippines were also detained for not having valid identification documents.

The operation involved 375 officers and personnel from various agencies.

“Esscom will intensify such operations to detect illegal pump boats from time to time.

“All pump boat operators in the east coast are advised to obtain valid licences from the Sabah Ports and Harbours Department to avoid action from the authorities,” he said.

DCP Hamzah also urged the people to report any activity that could threaten the security in the state’s east coast by calling the Esscom operations centre at 089-863181 or through the WhatsApp number at 011-63311072.