ENSURING SECURITY: Home Ministry asks Wisma Putra to decide on Manila's appeal to give more time to intruders
KLUANG: THE Home Ministry will let Wisma Putra decide on the request by the Philippines government to extend the deadline for the deportation of a group of armed intruders, claiming to be descendants of the Sulu sultan, from Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, hoped that should the request be entertained, the extension would not be too long as the ministry would not compromise the country's sovereignty and the security of the people.
"Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman called me this morning and I told him I would leave it to Wisma Putra to decide.
"What is important is that we will not compromise on the country's safety and the dignity of the people in resolving the matter peacefully.
"If there is a request to extend the deadline, do not extend it for too long as there is a limit and time to tackle the issue in our quest to safeguard our country," he said after attending a briefing on the Barisan Nasional election machinery for the Sembrong parliamentary constituency here yesterday.
Present was Kahang state assemblyman R. Vidyanathan.
The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday requested Malaysia to extend the deadline until Tuesday to allow the intruders to withdraw peacefully.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Manila was continuing its efforts to persuade the followers, who are engaged in a nearly two-week stand-off with Malaysian forces, to leave Sabah peacefully.
In Kota Kinabalu, Anifah yesterday said the government had agreed to extend the deadline to today for the "Royal Sulu Army" members holed up in Kampung Tanduo to leave Sabah.
On security measures, Hishammuddin said the police force, the army and the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency were monitoring the situation, and assured that the situation was under control.
"The people should understand that the situation there is rather complex and view it in perspective as it differs from other cases involving al-Maunah, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah. The intruders in Lahad Datu are not militants or terrorists."