KOTA KINABALU – The United Kingdomâ€™s terror threat travel alert to the east coast of Sabah is unfair and unacceptable, said Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) president, Datuk Seri Panglima Gan Sau Wah.
Gan said, Malaysia is peaceful compared to other countries such as the Middle East and Europe.
â€œThe British Government has the right to advise its citizens against coming to Sabah. But as Sabahans, we cannot accept this,â€ he said in a press conference here yesterday.
As one who is living in Semporna, Gan said, the government has beefed up security in the east coast with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom).
For the past 10 months, Gan said, the State has been very peaceful owing to the security efforts led by the Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, coupled with measures carried out by the ESSCom, Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry.
Furthermore, he said, tourists from China have been flocking into Semporna recently, as proven by the full occupancy rate of hotels from February till August this year.
â€œIf it is really dangerous here, the China tourists would not have come. This proves that this place (Sabah) is very safe.â€
Gan said this in response to the advice issued by UKâ€™s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against all but essential travel to the east coast of Sabah, including Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Ligitan, Sipadan and Mataking.
The UK has cited â€˜high threat from terrorismâ€™ in which â€˜attacks could be indiscriminateâ€™ along the coastal area. The FCO also raised the terror threat level of the islands from â€˜generalâ€™ to â€˜highâ€™.
Gan hoped that the Malaysian Government, especially the tourism and home ministries, would respond to the travel advisory issued by the British Government. He stressed that Sabah was not under the terror threat of the Islamic State (IS).
He said the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then happened in the Philippines, not in Sabah.
â€œThe IS has not launched any bombing or explosion in Sabah,â€ he said.
Gan continued to say that the people who were born and raised in the east coast, such as Semporna, Lahad Datu and Kunak have seen it all, be it pirates, robberies or abductions.
â€œBut the Chinese in Semporna, Kunak and Lahad Datu have remained strong and brave. Those who are born and raised here have not left their place of birth.â€
Besides, he said, people were too focused on the east coast than the security in the west coast.
â€œThere was a shocking news about six suspects being detained on suspicion of providing information to foreign criminals during an operation in Telipok. But the success of the police in nabbing them shows that the police, the Police Commissioner of Sabah, are very capable in their jobs.â€
Hence, Gan hoped that the people could have more confidence in the government and support the government in curbing security issues in the State.
Also present at the press conference were Sabah Dong Zong chairman, Tan Sri Andrew Liew Sui Fatt, SUCCC secretary general, Datuk Ling Tiong Chai, Tambunan Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datoâ€™ Oi Thiam Beng, SUCCC Young Entrepreneur Section (YES) chairman Peter Gan and Semporna Chinese Chamber of Commerce treasurer Kapitan Ho Kim Chan. – BerneoPost