Special Functions Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said today the government was planning to expand the cooperation between the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) and the security agencies in the Philippines and Indonesia to strengthen security in Sulu Sea.
Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, said the plan came out after taking into consideration the success of cooperation between the security forces of Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia through the initiatives undertaken by the three countries.
"The cooperation will ensure there will be no overlapping or wastage of assets, as well as to ensure quicker response and better information-sharing process.
"There is no reason why we cannot expand the cooperation to other agencies in Esscom as carried out by the Defence Ministry through the trilateral cooperation with its counterparts in the Philippines and Indonesia," Hishammuddin told reporters after a visit and briefing on the latest development in Esscom in Lahad Datu.
Curbing threat of Islamic State militants
He said the cooperation was very important to curb the threat of the Islamic State (IS) militants, who were seeking a new location to build their influence.
"IS militants are a major threat and we do not want them to set up their base here. That is why the cooperation between these three neighbouring countries should be forged before it is too late," he said.
Commenting on his visit to Esscom, Hishammuddin said it was aimed at obtaining a clearer picture on the latest approach by Esscom to maintain the security and sovereignty in the area.
"The visit to Esscom is part of my initial approach as special functions minister to assist Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to strengthen security in Sabah, especially through Esscom Monitoring Committee chaired by himself.
"Apart from that, we will also work closely with the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman in terms of operational and technical matters," he said.
Hishammuddin said Esscom was set up to play the role of an effective security organisation in the Esszone and to create a peaceful environment in the east coast of Sabah.
"I believe there is still room for improvement to further improve the credibility of Esscom," he said.