Wednesday, March 13, 2013

After almost three decades Lahad Datu have changed...well almost that is!

Banner placed by Malaysian Suluk community is very clear to intruders from the Philippines.

The Malaysian Suluks are as patriotic as any other Malaysians.

We were at this deserted Felda community when this guy came out of the bush and when asked he said he is not a Suluk but appeared nervous!

Deserted Tanjung Lebian Felda.

This Felda scheme was under siege

A house built by a Suluk Malaysian Felda settler at Sahabat Felda Desa Kencana

Houses at Felda Sahabat Desa a resort.

Simple Felda house also owned by a Suluk Malaysian Felda settlers

Like a country cottage this was originally a dilapidated Felda home

This house could be at Country Height in KL...owned by another Suluk Malaysian Felda settler who said he has no problem defending what he has built to the last drop of his blood!

In 1985 as a journalist I flew to Kota Kinabalu, then to Lahad Datu to cover the pirate attacks on this remote small fishing village. Read here for more.
Back then Lahad Datu might as well be located at the end of the world to most of us.  It is a town and district located in the remote east of Sabah on the island of Borneo where nobody really bothers to go unless something really pirate attacks or armed invasion by foreign terrorists.
Much like in 1985 pirate attacks and robbing of Standard-Chartered Bank in Lahad Datu by a band of almost disciplined and armed para-military type people, they got away with almost RM200,000 but were pursued by the marine police and many were killed.
Last week I was again in Lahad Datu after 28 years. However, recent intrusion of armed terrorist that have so far killed ten members of our own security forces is far more serious than in 1985.
The self proclaimed rag-tag members of the "Sulu sultanate" made up of  mainly Sulu people of southern Philippines, have to be flushed out and dealt with, with extreme prejudice.  They have to be treated like common criminal and terrorist for their disregard of international norms and constraints.
They have no right to attack a sovereign  nation like Malaysia and expected to get away with it.  The international community is well behind us in giving moral supports.
Meanwhile, our over a hundred thousand Malaysians of Suluk origin are feeling the brunt of criticism from the recent attack by their same ethnic group from southern Philippines.
While the Sulu terrorists were of the same people as our Suluk Malaysians, their strong resolve to support the government in combating the terrorists are real and cannot be taken lightly.
"This is our home and we will defend it to our last blood," said a Desa Kencana Felda Sahabat settler of over twenty years, who refused to be named or picture taken. He said, when his family came to Felda Sahabat there were no roads, no medicare not even real food to eat.
"But today just look at our community we are proud to be Malaysians of Sulu origin, my children have good education and one is working in Kuala Lumpur," he said.
Looking at the beautiful the the Malaysians of Suluk and Bajau origins you I am beginning to understand how passionate these Malaysians are about what they have created for their family and how willing they are to defend what they have created and built to the last drop of their Suluk Malaysian blood.
As I said in the beginning while Lahad Datu has physically changed but alas the insecurity of the people since 1985 can still be felt. Many have decided to sell their houses and move to a bigger town inland like Tawau.
However, with the goverenment announcement over the creation of a security zone, Eastern Sabah Security Command, that will encompass securing the eastern parts of Sabah, which will include Lahad Datu, this insecure but beautiful fishing town with so much economic potential can and will now rise to the occassion.

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