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SANDAKAN: Tourism operators on Sabah’s east coast are hoping that more funds will be channeled to intensify security and defence in the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) under the 2019 Budget.

Semporna Tourism Company Association chairman Kerinu Jalani said the government should review the safety situation in eastern Sabah and consider increasing assets, including helicopters and boats, for security forces personnel based on islands.

He said the existing security rig platform was not enough to combat cross-border crime, as there had been many kidnapping threats.

“What we see are security control posts on islands, but there are no boats or the boats require maintenance.

“The government needs to increase allocation for the maintenance of security boats,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said funds were also needed to station helicopters at strategic areas in eastern Sabah to allow better surveillance and swift action in emergencies.

The government had announced a RM5.9 billion development fund for the Defence Ministry and Home Ministry to boost security.

Kerinu said tourism operators were taking the initiative to convince foreign tourists, especially those from South Korea, that Semporna was safe for visit.

“Compared to tourists from other countries, the Koreans are still worried about travelling to Sabah’s east coast. We hope the government will take steps to channel allocation to areas that are most in need of funds,” he said.

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