SANDAKAN, Sabah state, Malaysia — Although cross-border crimes in the east coast of Sabah can never be fully eradicated, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) is currently on the right track in keeping the crimes, especially kidnapping cases, at bay.

ESSCom’s latest success in gunning down a suspect believed to be a member of the Abu Sayyaff Group and kidnap for ransom (KFR) group during a shoot-out in the waters of Pulau Kantong Kalungan in Lahad Datu early yesterday was proof of the agency’s significant ability to combat cross-border crimes.

The incident was the first case which saw a kidnapping suspect being shot dead this year.

On Dec 8 last year, three suspected kidnappers were shot dead by the General Operations Force in the waters of Pulau Gaya, Semporna.

The success had also boosted public confidence and support for ESSCom in combating cross-border crimes.

Chairman of the Lahad Datu branch of the Sabah Consumer Affairs and Protection Society Nagaraju Apalasamy said today’s success also showed that ESSCom was not negligent in defending the security and sovereignty of the country, especially in Eastern Sabah.

The confidence that the community placed on ESSCom now seemed all worth it because the agency is obviously on the right track in ensuring security in Eastern Sabah, he told Bernama.

He also regarded the commitment of the government in increasing the assets of the security forces under ESSCom as an important factor for creating a peaceful and safe environment in the area.

Meanwhile, Sandakan Fisherman Association chairman Asmaul Gindung said the deepsea fishermen in the area in particular were now more confident of their safety at sea.

We thank the government for setting up the ESSCom to look after the people in Sabah, especially in terms of security, he said.

He said the fishing community would always work closely with ESSCom in ensuring success of all programmes implemented with the aim to boost security in the nation’s waters.

This included by channeling whatever information on suspicious activities to the security forces, he added.