Thursday, 7 March 2013

Guerrilla warfare – militants hitting back?

Guerrilla warfare – militants hitting back?
 | March 8, 2013 

A Moro National Liberation Front source is of the view that the war in Sabah will be 'very costly' to the Malaysian security forces.
LAHAD DATU: As images of mutilated bodies flood the blogs and rumours of more attacks spew via SMSes and e-mails,  Lahad Datu is appearing more and more like a guerrilla front.
Malaysia’s rejection yesterday of a unilateral ceasefire called by self-styled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and its determination to wipe out the “remnants” of the militants of the week-long brutal armed attack simply means that Sabah is in trouble, says a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) source.
Said the source who declined to be named: “The Malaysians have opened an insurgency problem in Sabah by firing the first shot. Sabah is going to be a real headache for the Malaysians.”
The source was alluding to last Friday’s shoot-out at Kampung Tandauo in Lahad Datu where over 200 armed soldiers from the Royal Sulu Army have been holed up since Feb 9.
What triggered the shoot-out is subjective. The Malaysian side claimed the militants broke the security cordon, but the Sulu sultanate denied this saying they were attacked.
A news blackout on the ongoings in Lahad Datu and a lack of informed regular updates from the Malaysian authorities have given wind to widespread rumours, the latest being that a group of Moro militants bombed a bridge in Sandakan and a truck heading towards Lahad Datu was attacked.
FMT has been unable to confirm these information. Neither is there any comment from the Malaysian side.
Thus far, the Malaysian security forces have declared 52 militants killed, including a general, and eight Malaysian officers have died.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak told reporters here that a security zone covering Kudat, Kunak, Sandakan and Lahad Datu has been set up and that there was no scaling back unless the militants surrender unconditionally and hand over their weapons.
Unconditional surrender is not a Tausug culture
Meanwhile, the quoted official MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla as saying that the sultanate’s forces would fight till the death.
“Surrender? It’s unacceptable. They will fight to the death. For the Tausug fighters it’s victory or graveyard,” he said.
He said the war would be “very costly” to the Malaysian army which had not fought a real battle like the sultanate’s forces.
He said many of them had fought the Philippine government as members of the MNLF.
“They’re used to dealing with jet fighters as well as ground and naval bombardments.
“They know the terrain in Sabah, having trained there for decades,” he said.
Militants refusing to surrender
Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar in a press conference here this morning said the Sulu militants were not showing signs of surrendering.
He also denied reports that 700 Sulu gunmen had entered Sabah.
“I received information that there are SMS and social media postings which falsely claim that these gunmen have entered Kota Kinabalu and Tawau to create chaos,” he said.
“It is not true. Do not believe in reports which are not confirmed by the police and military. Please inform the police if you see any information via social media or text messages,” he added.

Stop meddling in Sabah, PKR tells Najib
 | March 8, 2013 

PKR doesn’t want a repeat of Najib’s mistakes at the early stages of the armed incursion, which left eight Malaysian security personnel killed.

KUALA LUMPUR: All security operations in Sabah should be handed over completely  to the Malaysian armed forces and police personnel, without interference from politicians, PKR demanded today.
PKR strategy director Rafisi Ramli said this was because prime minister Najib Tun Razak had admitted his administration only began taking action when eight Malaysian security personnel were killed in attacks by the self-styled Royal Sulu Sultan’s army.
“[Najib’s] statement was aired yesterday (March 7 2013) on Buletin Utama , TV3. He clearly confessed to taking military action only after our security forces were killed,” said Rafizi at a press conference at the PKR headquarters here.
“Because of that, PKR feels that it is right for the whole security operations in Sabah to be given to the Malaysian armed forces and police without intervention from political leaders.”
He said this would ensure there would be no repeat of mistakes made in decision-making which could cost the lives of more security personnel in Sabah.
“In any crisis, by right, military action should be first on the card. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, or hastily begun after certain casualties had taken place,” said Rafizi.
He pointed out that if the mandate had been given to the armed forces since the beginning, they could have decided on the best course of action to take to safeguard the territory and lives of servicemen.
Instead, the government had attempted to peacefully negotiate with the armed sulu intruders since Feb 9. This was despite the fact that the army had made it clear they intended to take Sabah by force.
The weeks of negotiations culminated in a bloody clash last Friday, which left two Malaysian security personnel killed and 12 of the intruders dead.
Another six Malaysians died during an ambush the following day. Meanwhile, 52 Sulu gunmen have been killed as of press time.
Najib jeapordising country’s sovereignty
Rafizi was also concerned by Najib’s alleged decision  not to take action against the armed insurgents should they agree to leave Sabah unarmed.
This was according to a report by Filipino newspaper the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which quoted Filipino Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras on the matter.
“The report quotes Secretary Almedras confessing that the Najib administration has agreed  not to take any action against the Sulu intruders on the condition that they must leave their weapons behind or hide their weapons and leave Sabah,” said Rafizi.
He said such an offer would leave the world with the impression that Malaysia was willing to make deals with armed intruders.
“This would invite more armed incursions into the country in the future, once the intruders sneak in and take back their weapons,” Rafizi pointed out.
“Even more worrying, the report states that Najib agreed to reopen talks over the Sulu intruder’s claims over Sabah,” he added.
He said that Najib’s two decisions, if true, could jeapordise the country’s sovereignty.
“It is not Najib’s right to decide to negotiate Sabah’s standing in Malaysia and the claim made by the intruders.
“That is the right of the people and his responsibility, as prime minister, is to protect the country’s sovereignty firmly, especially in a case involving a clear-cut intrusion such as this one,” stressed Rafizi.
He said these developments reflected Najib’s chaotic reactions and responses towards the armed incursion.
“As the prime minister, he has no choice but to respond to these issues in a special sitting of Parliament over the Sabah intrusion. If he continues to avoid this, the rakyat will continue to question why this crisis was not managed more quickly and effectively,” warned Rafizi.
Dr M targets emergency rule?
 | March 8, 2013 

Having established a legacy of fame and fortune, Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not going to stand aside and watch his work destroyed. 

Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a worried man facing a mother-of-all-elections that “threatens” his 22-years of national development legacy, an extensive personal and commercial network and his personal wealth speculated to run into billions.
He is not going to take any chances.
In the aftermath of the 12th general election in 2008, Mahathir established an organisation called Perkasa whose existence is to launch the brinkmanship tactic with or without the approval of the powers-that-be.
He does not have the confidence that his successor-by-appointment Najib Tun Razak can execute radical measures to contain the rise of Anwar Ibrahim-led Pakatan Rakyat.
Therefore he has chosen to partner with Muhyiddin Yassin (Deputy Prime Minister). Together they are scheming to take on Najib before the general election. The duo will go to any and all lengths to plan radical strategies to beat the opposition using all available avenues.
Should Muhyiddin fail to dislodge Najib as prime minister and the latter refusing to take his orders, then Mahathir will go it alone.
With Perkasa as his running dog he believes he can still unleash a lethal force against the opposition. Already, Perkasa has issued warning signals to the opposition and the other races to toe the line.
These people are capable of triggering disturbances in the country compelling Najib to declare a state of emergency. As this strategy serves Najib’s agenda, too, he will take it from there.
Do or die battle
Mahathir fears his own safety and the threats to his family business empire.
With these fears egging him, Mahathir will take the general election as his personal war with Pakatan, thereby forcing Najib to step aside. It will be a do or die battle for him.
Should Najib quit, then Mahathir has three arsenals at his disposal.
Muhyiddin as his front man would then forge a reciprocal arrangement with one of the major partners in Pakatan.
In the event of a neck-and-neck contest, any minor changes towards the finishing line may have profound consequences on the contesting teams, favourable or otherwise.
With money at his disposal, Mahathir can execute his vote-buying tactic before the GE and candidate-buying tactic before and after the GE to ensure victory for Umno-BN.
If these tactics don’t work, then Mahathir will turn to Perkasa.
Being Mahathir’s brainchild, it will take orders from him. It is believed that Perkasa’s members are ready to trigger chaos in specific parts of the country and blame it on the opposition.
However, the disturbances will be a controlled and superficial one as he won’t want to jeopardise the financial market and scare investors away.
Aiming for emergency rule?
Mahathir then will instruct frontman (either Najib of Muhyiddin, depending) to declare a state of emergency to arrest and prosecute the opposition leaders for good.
Election and Parliament will be suspended and the country will then be put under the control of a National Operations Council.
Mahathir will then turn his attention to confront the might of people’s power using the full force of the police and army.
If he dares to do this, chaos and anarchy may set in.
But will the police and army act on Muhyiddin’s order? Mahathir is also constantly underestimating the full force of people’s power. If the people rise, then the whole nation could be paralysed.
The nation as such cannot be sacrificed to save one man, who isn’t worth an honest penny.
Awang Abdillah is a political analyst, writer and FMT columnist.
‘There was no Sabah referendum’
 | March 8, 2013 

Any talks between Malaysia and the Philippines must include Sabah because only the people of Sabah can decide what they want, says Jeffrey Kitingan.

KOTA KINABALU: United Borneo Front (UBF) chairman Jeffrey Kitingan has disputed the context of the 1962 referendum which academics and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak claim confirmed Sabahans’ desire to be part of Malaysia.
“There has never been a referendum on Sabah as stated by some academics.
“In fact, the so-called referendum in 1962-63 was actually only a sampling survey of less than four percent of the Sabah population,” he said in response to Najib’s comments on Sabah yesterday.
Najib said there was no question of Sabah not being within Malaysia.
Said Najib: “On the question of polemics of whether Sabah is a part of Malaysia, I want to stress that the issue had been finalised in 1978 and Sabah is a valid region in Malaysia,” he said.
He said the Cobbold Commission had held a referendum and two-thirds of the people in Sabah agreed to the state being a part of Malaysia. The commission also obtained the recognition of the United Nations.
(The Cobbold Commission was set up to find out whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak were agreeable to the proposal to create Malaysia, made up of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.)
But Jeffrey, who also heads the Sabah chapter of the State Reform Party (STAR), said the Malaysia Agreement which incorporated terms of the Cobbold Commission “is yet to be implemented”.
“Najib must realise that Sabah belongs to the people of Sabah.
“Malaysia does not own Sabah as the Malaysia Agreement is yet to be implemented. Sabah is not a piece of lifeless property to be fought over between the Philippines [Sulu claim] and Malaya.
“Therefore, any talks between Malaysia/Malaya and the Philippines must include Sabah because only the people of Sabah can decide what they want.
“The [Sulu's] Sabah claim, whether valid or not, must be resolved once and fo all by bringing all the relevant parties to the table within the ambitof Britain and the United Nations and find a peaceful solution,” he said.
PMs have failed Sabah
He added that “the time has come to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement and ensure its viability and survival by addressing the unhappiness of the other remaining partners – Sabah and Sarawak”.
Jeffrey also pointed out that it was vital that the federal government clean up the mess created by (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Umno in Sabah which had put Sabah and its citizens at perpetual risk.
“They made Sabah insecure by supporting Muslim rebellion in the Philippines and supplying them weapons, giving them refuge and training facilities in Sabah and, worst still, by deploying them as voters in Sabah through the ‘Project IC Mahathir’, despite knowing full well that the same group of people from the Philippines have unsettled claims over Sabah.
“To restore confidence, the federal government must clean up the mess. Umno should leave Sabah politics to Sabahans and local political parties.”
Jeffrey said the Sulu invasion was proof that Malaysia and successive prime ministers, including Najib, had failed miserably to secure the safety and security of Sabahans.
“Now that the fear felt by Sabahans has become a reality, Najib, as the current premier, must not only guarantee the security of Sabahans but he must also restore their confidence because security was the number one reason why Sabahans agreed to be part of Malaysia in 1963,” said Jeffrey.
He said Najib “has a moral duty to put things right” in Sabah.
“That is why we Sabahans supported the RCI [Royal Commission of Inquiry] as part of a necessary action to put things right.
“But that is not enough. A lot more needs to be done to regain the confidence of the people of Sabah who feel cheated by the federal government,” Jeffrey said.

Tian Chua becomes Najib’s fall guy
 | March 8, 2013 

No one is dishonouring the memory of the brave men who died defending Sabahans from invaders, but our leaders appear to be largely responsible for the debacle.

Many lives might have been saved if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had apprehended the armed Suluks in Lahad Datu, with the same speed as taking legal action against the vice-president of PKR, Tian Chua.
On March 1, Tian Chua allegedly defamed Umno in an article on, entitled, “Shooting Incident in Lahad Datu Umno’s Planned Conspiracy — Tian”. Four days later, on March 5, Najib instructed Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to take legal action against Tian Chua for linking Umno to the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu.
Tengku Adnan said, “This is because the accusation is baseless and very serious with the evil intention of damaging Umno’s image, reputation and credibility.”
Malaysians are already aware of Umno’s tarnished image, its terrible reputation and questionable credibility. Will Umno go after every individual who speaks ill of the party?
No one is dishonouring the memory of the brave men who died defending Sabahans from invaders, but our leaders appear to be largely responsible for the debacle.
It is common knowledge that our shores and borders are porous, but the government appears to have no remedy.
In the past weeks, illegal immigrants who are accustomed to living and working without hindrance throughout Malaysia are exercising more caution. In Sabah, they are staying away from their usual stalls and the corners where they normally trade. This security crisis has forced the police and immigration staff to be more conscientious in the checking of Identity Cards and other identification papers – in the past, they were very lax.
Marine patrols were increased following the kidnap of two Malaysians last November. It is a fact that there are several layers of intelligence and security surveillance, so how could more than 100 armed and uniformed militants enter Lahad Datu unchallenged? The apparent lapse in security lends credence to a conspiracy theory.
The timing
Another factor which goes against Umno is the timing. The breach in security happened in the critical days before the announcement of GE-13. Najib’s popularity has dropped recently and it is widely believed that his intelligence services have predicted a crushing defeat for Umno.
A declaration of emergency rule would suspend elections and in that period, some political pundits claim that Najib would initiate all measures, both legal and illegal, to ensure a win.
Can anyone blame the talk of an Umno drama? Even the Election Commission (EC) chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has warned of a postponement of elections in selected areas.
Details of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Project M” were disclosed in the Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), and confirmed the suspicions of many Malaysians. Sabahans began to look on each other with fear, apprehension and mistrust.
Mahathir’s admission is tantamount to treason, but no Umno leader has censured him. Tian Chua may have been guilty of insensitivity, but Sabah’s predicament was caused by one power-hungry, crazed former PM, Mahathir, who gave the nation away.
Najib ordered a probe into Anwar Ibrahim’s alleged links with this incursion. He is trying to discredit the opposition, so why is Tian Chua being sued for defamation?
Mahathir caused outrage when he intimated that the slow response of the armed forces was because Muslim militants were involved and Muslim blood should not be spilt.
When news of 100 armed and uniformed men first broke, Malaysians feared the worst, but Najib continued his electioneering in peninsular Malaysia. Najib preferred to play politics and disregard the escalating hostilities.
Najib erred but did not dare admit his guilt and apologise for taking weeks to act. He and his ministers travel with security cordons; their homes are well guarded. They have no sense of urgency and are totally disconnected from the man on the street.
Najib ordered a news blackout and journalists were prevented from entering the area. So we sourced the papers in Manila for details about the incursion. Why should Najib blame people for incriminating Umno? Najib is to be blamed for hiding the truth.
To this day, we are not privy to the demands of the Suluk militants. There have been allegations that Najib had promised the militants land for resettlement. When he allegedly reneged on his deal, Lahad Datu was invaded. It is ironical that Najib was on a BN propaganda drive in Perlis promoting another “Janji-ditepati” stunt, whilst in Sabah, the Suluks invaded because Najib allegedly broke his “janji” to them.
Horrible truth
In the end, the RMAF’s weapons were unleashed on the hide-out. These well-armed, trained and disciplined militants are adept at guerilla warfare and disappeared into the undergrowth, much like the Vietcong in the Vietnam war. At the end of the firestorm, around 50 bodies were recovered. Some people have expressed scepticism about the captured militants who were paraded for the press.
One person said, “The detainees wore gleaming white shirts with no marks or tears. One even wore a BN shirt. The men did not show any signs of being holed up for four weeks. They did not appear to be disheveled, unkempt or even battle weary. They do not fit the picture of seasoned mercenaries.”
Another observer said, “The Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen did not deter tourists from Sabah and claimed that the Sabah Tourist Board was getting 12 hourly updates. What about relaying this news to the rakyat? Many of us have family and friends in that part of the world. Yen-Yen’s announcement goes against the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning to stay away from the east coast of Sabah, unless for essential travel.”
Najib has only himself to blame for making people believe that Umno is linked to this incursion. He ordered a news black-out. His ministers were slow to act. Tony Blair took his country into the Gulf War on the strength of a lie – Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
The militants’ presence was revealed a month ago but Najib did not see fit to boost troop and police morale, or more importantly, reassure the Sabahans with a visit. One political observer has alleged that Najib thought a visit was not necessary because it was a put-up job that he arranged.
Najib did not think the matter was of sufficient moment to discuss in parliament. It was only after hell was unleashed on the Felda settlements, and seven battalions dropped into the area, that Najib came for a photo-opportunity with the soldiers.
Najib would like to think that the image of a conquering hero is enough to boost support for BN in GE-13.
His optimism is premature because when the smell of propellant has gone, he would still have to answer some simple questions: Who did not take care of national security? Who allowed illegal immigrants in? Who distributed MyKads and citizenships as freely as BR1M handouts? Whose prevarication cost the lives of many security personnel?
There is much about this incursion that Umno has hidden from public scrutiny but the horrible truth would eventually emerge, no matter how hard Najib may strive to hide it.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.