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Patrol Boat Incident Poses Question over Naval Readiness to Protect Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: “The “lost and found” incident of the naval patrol boat CB204 clearly uncovers the non-readiness and unpreparedness of the Malaysian navy to protect Sabah and Sarawak in the event of any security threat.   It is a blessing in disguise and should serve as a wake-up call to the federal government to re-assess its commitment to protect Sabah and Sarawak” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in commenting on the patrol boat incident which was found after some 30 hours of loss of contact and with its 7-man crew already starving.

Many questions are raised that shows that the navy may not be prepared in any security incident or skirmish with non-friendly or enemy intruders.

The mechanical break-down, communication break-down with difference in frequencies and subsequent loss of communication and the 30-hours search raises red-flags and caution. The search would definitely have taken long if not for a oil-production platform, “ERB West Oil Rig, located nine nautical miles northeast from Pulau Mengalum, that sighted the stranded boat and sounded the authorities. 

The navy ought to thank Sabah state for having oil resources for this fortunate turn of event. If not, the patrol boat may not be found or heaven forbid if found another day or two later, what could have happened to the crew that were already starving the death?

At the readiness level, the naval vessel is obviously not battle-ready.  It is unbelievable that the vessel carried little or no rations that could not have lasted for more than a few hours since the crew were already starving when found.  A week’s ration for 7-man for 7-days of 196 packets assuming 4-meals a day could not have been more than 2 carton boxes.

One wonders whether they had sufficient supplies of ammunitions for a week or for a few hours if they were to encounter intruders.   It could not have been more than a few hours if the lack of food rations is any indication.   How to fight for a week with a week’s ammunitions if the food is only for a few hours?

The unpreparedness for battle shows that the federal government is hypocritical in its attitude towards the security Sabah.  They need to be constantly be reminded that Sabah and Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia on the twin pillars and promises of security and development.  It looks like the federal government has failed on both counts.

Only weeks ago, the Defence Minister himself said that IS militants were ready to invade Sabah and create an Islamic caliphate, yet this warning has not reached his navy to be ready for battle when IS invades.  Unless of course, the Minister is lying to frighten Sabahans.

For the Sabah government, the incident and the IS threat should wake them up and be prepared to take action to safeguard Sabah.  They should consider setting up Sabah’s own security forces to complement the federal security teams as the government of Malaysia has shown that it is unable to effectively protect Sabah.

It needs no reminding that the Sabah Border Scouts served with distinction during World War 2 with the allied forces from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and others.   Such is the make-up of Sabahans if they are indeed called upon to defend their homeland.

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