KOTA KINABALU: The government appreciates the contributions and sacrifices made by People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel, Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said today.
"Whether it is big or small, we cannot deny that Rela members have made significant contributions to society.
"The government never look down on them and it is not our culture to belittle anyone," he said, at the launch of the Rela's assignment to Esszone at the Rela Training Centre in Tuaran.
He was responding Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Safie Apdal who questioned the federal government's move in assigning Rela members to Esszone.
Shafie, in a video recording, had said that Rela was useful only for helping control traffic at government or private functions and not suitable as security personnel against armed groups.
His remarks drew flak among Rela members in Sabah who urged Shafie to retract his statement, which they said had belittled their contribution.
Meanwhile, Musa added that as a gesture of appreciation, the state government will be allocating RM6 million to state Rela and help build a second training centre in Sandakan.
He said the deployment of Rela to Esszone was an advantage because members know the community and are familiar with the surrounding areas.
Musa, who is also Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chairman, said the idea of having Rela personnel was a brainchild of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Since Jan 1, 504 Rela personnel have been assigned to 21 locations in Esszone.
Meanwhile, Rela director-general Zulkifli Abidin clarified in his speech that only Rela personnel who had undergone special training would be sent to conduct patrols in the Esszone.
Also present were Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat, National Security Council director general Tan Sri Zulkifli Mohd Zin, Esscom chief executive officer Nor Alam Khan and Sabah police commissioner Datuk Ramli Din.