Culture of revenge may spark recurrence of Lahad Datu tragedy: Ahmad Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) -- The culture of seeking revenge among the community in southern Philippines for the past several hundred years may spark a recurrence of the bloody tragedy in Lahad Datu in future, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Therefore, he said, Malaysia's security forces would not compromise on the issue of national security and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) along the 1,400km coastline of East Sabah was the best move to deter the recurrence of the tragedy.

"I am putting my full confidence on our armed forces and police in ensuring the tragedy is not repeated despite fear that it may take place again," he told Bernama.

The Malaysian security forces have to date shot 56 terrorists. The tragedy also took the lives of 10 members of the security forces.

Ahmad Zahid said the culture of revenge among the communities in the southern Philippines was still in practice today, such as the torching of houses which was a common occurrence and therefore it was not impossible that the incident in Lahad Datu might cause the Sulu terrorists to seek revenge on Malaysia in future.

Asked on the rationale of Malaysia cooperating with the Philippines on military actions in southern Philippines to remove the threat at its source, he said military action was not the solution to the problem.

"Firstly, if we were to enter the Philippines, we would not be respecting the sovereignty of the Philippines and vice versa in Malaysia. The sovereignty of both countries must be respected," he said.

Ahmad Zahid also recorded his appreciation to the Philippines for working closely with Malaysia to resolve the tragedy and prevent the incident from taking place again by blocking Sulu terrorists from entering Malaysia.

On suggestions by some Malaysians that the terrorist head Jamalul Kiram be extradited to Malaysia to be charged in court, he said in the spirit of Asean solidarity, Malaysia could request the Philippines to do so.

"We have sent Nur Misuari (Moro National Liberation Front leader) back to the Philippines and in the spirit of Asean, if Jamalul Kiram could be detained, he could be extradited to Malaysia.

"Jamalul Kiram is a Filipino but the crime took place in Malaysia and in the spirit of Asean, we could ask for him to be tried in Malaysia. But it will not be under the jurisdiction of the Defence Ministry but the Attorney-General's Chambers," he said.

He said there were grounds for the proposal by Umno Youth to charge Jamalul Kiram and his followers for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

To date, 156 people have been detained for being in the red zone of the operations while 97 individuals were held for being involved with terrorists under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 read together with Section 130(c) of the Penal Code.