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The Situation in Sabah

The jungles of Kiulu not far from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

The Sabah Tourism Board moved last week to reassure tourists to not be deterred from their current of future holiday plans for Sabah.

“The Sabah Tourism Board wish to assure our visitors and partners worldwide that the tourism industry are operating as usual.”

“Hotels, island resorts, river, jungle and mountain lodges and activities throughout Sabah including the east coast, are operating as usual.” said Datuk Irene Benggon Charuruks, the General Manager & Board Director of Sabah Tourism Board.

The jungles of Kiulu not far from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

She continued to say that all the dive destinations on Sabah’s east coast, including Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking, Pom Pom, Pandanan and Lankayan Island, plus Turtle Island (Selingan), are open to visitors and for business.

Where was the trouble?

The recent occupation by the armed intruders took place in a remote coastal village called Kampung Tanduo. This village, including the nearby village of Kampung Tanjung Batu is now in a heavy security area controlled by Malalysian security forces.

The villages are 150 km from Lahad Datu, far removed from the tourist route, with no tourist attractions in the area.

What is being done about tourist safety?

Last week Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Datuk Najib flew in to the affected area to inspect security operations for himself, and to ensure the safety and security of Sabah.

Sabah's amazing sunsets are even more so from Mt. KinabaluThe Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Special Security Area along the entire east coast of Sabah from Kudat at the north to Tawau in the southeast to prevent any further intrusions.

In addition to security forces already stationed on Sabah’s islands and patrolling the coastal areas, the government mobilised an additional 5 battalions comprising the army, police and navy, to the area to ensure safety and security on the mainland and on the islands.

Inspector General of the Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar, assured the people to go about their days as usual. He advised the public not to panic and to ignore rumours.

“I would like to assure tourists that it is safe to travel to Sabah.” Ismail said.

The Feeling on the Ground

According to what could ascertain from residents in Kota Kinabalu and various operators who had guests in different parts of Sabah during this time, from Sipadan to Kudat, it’s business as usual, in spite of an understandable uneasiness amongst Sabahans at this threat to their peaceful way of life.

The intruders’ action was not aimed at the general populace of Sabah nor at foreigners or tourists.

Sabah is and continues to be a choice destination for holidays in South East Asia and Malaysia.