A local non-governmental organisation here said it was time for a "show of force" by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) in its effort to prevent cross-border threats.
"The security forces can no longer choose to be tolerant as 'kidnapping for ransom' crimes are beginning to be the norm, said Majlis Permuafakatan Suluk Sabah secretary Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto.
Should Esscom fail to live up to its responsibility, he opined, its reputation would diminish and have an impact on the country's sovereignty.
"Hopefully the government would give priority in budget allocation to Esscom to enable it to integrate its existing assets with state-of-the-art security technology equipment in safeguarding the East Coast of Sabah," he told Bernama.
Mohd Zaki was commenting on the disappearance of five crew members of a tugboat, which was found abandoned with its engine still running at Dent Haven, Tambisan, off Lahad Datu on Monday.
The police have yet to confirm but had not ruled out kidnapping as a possibility.
The five crew have been identified as boat skipper Abd Rahim Summas, 62, from Kampung Tanjung Batu, Tawau; Tayudin Anjut, 45, from Kampung Tanjung Batu Darat, Tawau; Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from Felda Jengka 7, Bandar Jengka, Pahang; Fandy Bakran, 26, from Kampung Pukat Tawau; and Mohamad Jumadil Rahim, 23, from Batu 2, Jalan Apas, Tawau.
On July 9, three Indonesians, Lorence Koten, 34; Teo Dorus Kopong, 42; and Emanuel, 46, were abducted by five armed men in the waters off Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu while they were fishing.
The incident happened a month after the kidnap of four Malaysians by armed men off Pulau Ligitan, Semporna, in April.
The four men, Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johny Lau Jung Hien, 21 from Sibu, Sarawak were released on June 8.