LAHAD DATU, March 7 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today announced the establishment of a special security area in Sabah to safeguard the sovereignty and security of the state's east coast.
He said the Sabah Special Security Area encompassed the districts of Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.
"This Special Security Area will have Lahad Datu as its central command and several temporary cabins will be placed there so that it can begin functioning immediately," he told news conference after checking on and attending a briefing on the ongoing "Ops Daulat" operation against armed intruders, here.
In 1972, the government had set up the Rajang Area Security Command (Rascom) in neighbouring Sarawak to thwart the threat from communist terrorists in the state.
The Rascom area, covering Sibu, Kanowit, Oya, Dalat, Bintagor, Sarikei, Julau, Song and Kapit, was declared a special security area by the then prime minister, Datuk Abdul Razak Hussein.
The prime minister said the proposal to establish the special security area was agreed to by the Cabinet at its meeting yesterday.
Najib said the move to have the special security area was made to boost the confidence of the people in Sabah, that the government would go to any length to maintain peace and safeguard the country's sovereignty.
He also said that the police and military strength in Sabah would be augmented by five more battalions to reinforce security.
The breakdown of the five battalions would be determined after discussions between the police and military, he added.
"In principle, the five additional battalions will be stationed in the Special Security Area. This is to give an assurance to the people in eastern Sabah that their security and sovereignty will be defended even after the operation ceases," he said.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and several other Cabinet ministers were also present at the news conference.