Joint air patrols in Sulu Sea

Hishammuddin presenting a medal to one of the recipients as Musa (right) looks on during the Daulat Feb 2013 Battle Honours ceremony at Padang Merdeka Friday night.

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia will soon be having trilateral cooperation to carry out air patrols in the Sulu sea.

Defence Minister, Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein told reporters this after officiating at the “Daulat Feb 2013 Battle Honours” ceremony held at the Padang Merdeka here Friday evening that this was the latest initiative between the three countries to counter the threat of Daesh or Islamic State (IS).

“Our relationship with our neighbouring countries is due to the threat of Daesh because for the first time, their flags have been hoisted up in our region,” he said.

He added that this was a challenge that Malaysia could not address on its own, hence the cooperation with Indonesia and the Philippines to monitor the Sulu sea.

He also said that the cooperation might be expanded to Brunei and Singapore as well as to other countries within the Asean region.

He explained that this was because the threat of Daesh would not only impact individual state because the entity had openly declared that they wanted to create Islamic State involving many countries, including Malaysia.

He stressed that it was important for countries to work together to counter the problem, stating that if IS had a foothold in the region, it would impact all the countries within the region.

“What we went through in Lahad Datu (during the Tanduo incident in 2013) is a good reminder and it also provided recognition to those who served during the incident. Nevertheless, we must continue to be vigilant,” he said.

As to when the air patrols would start, Hishammuddin said that the Philippines was still caught up with the battle in Marawi city and that they were waiting for that to be resolved prior to launching the trilateral air patrol cooperation.

“No one expected that Marawi could take so long (to be resolved). We see how it unfolds,” he said.

He also explained that among the assets they were looking at were patrol surveillance aircraft.

At the same time, there was also a possibility that they would work with Japan to acquire another asset.

He also said that sophisticated weaponry was not important in the fight against Abu Sayaff and Daesh.

Hishammudin said what was important was intelligence of Abu Sayaff in the Southern Philippines. He added that educating the public was also important.

“A lot of people don’t see the urgency, they don’t see the seriousness of the matter until it happens. I am sure the people of Southern Philippines didn’t expect Marawi to take three months and it is still not resolved.

“If we don’t take the necessary precaution and there are irresponsible people who attack, demoralise for whatever reason, be it political or otherwise.

“If something happens, innocent people, the rakyat of Sabah, will suffer, just like the innocent people in Syria and Iraq who suffered because of politics of hate, divide, pointing fingers at others, the politics of just getting votes. This is the message I want to bring,” he said.

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