Eradicating kidnappings in Sulu Zone not easy: Sassrec director

04 Apr 2016 / 08:53 H.

    KOTA KINABALU: Eradicating kidnappings and cross-border crimes in the Sulu Zone (Sulu Sea) and the waters off Malaysia is not an easy task, says University of Malaysia Sabah's Sabah Strategic and Security Research Centre (Sassrec) director, Dr Zaini Othman.
    He said this was because criminal activities had already been taking place in the waters since the period of the Sulu sultanate and the Brunei empire, as the area was regarded as one of the main trade routes between the East and Europe.
    "Historically, in the area known as the 'Sulu Zone', kidnappings are not something new. It was sort of a 'trade' in the era of the Sulu sultanate and Brunei empire, because the Sulu Zone is a trade region gathering merchants from China, Europe and others.
    "If we look at it, we are dealing with a change in the behaviour of the kidnappers. They are also keeping pace with advances in technology, in line with the response taken by the authorities.
    "When the authorities tighten their enforcement, they also take measures to circumvent these controls," he told Bernama today.
    Zaini was commenting on the kidnapping of four Malaysians in the waters off Pulau Ligitan at 6.15pm on Friday.
    Therefore, he said, any measure taken by the security forces would not wipe out kidnapping activities and other cross-border crimes by 100%, but rather bring it down to a minimal level.
    For example, he said the establishment of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) had shown positive effects in curbing kidnapping activities in the waters off Sabah's east coast.
    However, Zaini said, security agencies should not be contented with Esscom's achievements and instead, should continue to streamline methods that needed to be employed to ensure kidnapping activities were kept at bay.
    On the eight armed kidnappers who abducted the four Malaysians but freed Indonesians and Myanmars, Zaini said this did not mean the kidnappers were only targeting Malaysians.
    "I think the kidnappers don't choose (based on nationality). It is because of our close proximity to the Philippines. So, if they want to kidnap, they will kidnap victims who are easy to deal with, in terms of management.
    "Of course, they will choose hostages who can make it easier for them to demand ransom after the kidnapping. This is their technique," he added. — Bernama

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