By Mohd Farhan Darwis
KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 – Putrajaya must call a special Parliament sitting to discuss the deadly ongoing clash between Malaysian police and armed Filipino militants in Sabah that is claiming more lives and risking the country’s security, PAS lawmaker Datuk Mahfuz Omar said today.
The Pokok Sena MP said the Najib administraton needed to explain the situation in Sabah as people’s lives, as well as the country’s security, were at stake.
He warned that keeping mum would not help arrest the rumours that were spreading like wildfire and causing unnecesary alarm.
“Putrajaya must convene a special Parliament sitting... until now we see there has been no action, is the government weak or does it want to politicise this issue even though lives have been lost?” he said in a news conference at the Islamist party’s headquarters here.
“Issue a white paper as soon as possible, and explain to Parliament members so we can help find a resolution... so long as the government does not give out information, many will speculate and the government cannot get angry if the people say this is a conspirasy because there is no resolution,” the opposition leader said.
The PAS vice-president said the government’s handling of the situation showed up weaknesses in Malaysia’s intelligence system.
“What has happened is as if our intelligence is weak and they are also seeing that our country’s security is seen as too weak when our borders can be so easily breached,” he said.Mahfuz also weighed in on foreign news reports linking Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the Lahad Datu standoff, saying if the allegations were proven true, it would only prove the weakness of the country's security agencies.
"I say that it's not right (to link Anwar to the Filipino militants)... if that is their argument then confirmed our security agencies are weak," he said.
He also challenged the news reports, which he claimed were an attempt to detract focus from the real issue at stake in Lahad Datu.
"How can they not take early action, the opposition leaders met them, that is only to detract attention... that's why we are asking for a White Paper in Parliament,"he said.
He said the government must be frank in matters related to national security and not hide the information.
Nine Malaysians have died, to date, including two police commandos were killed in action against a Filipino militant in Kampung Tanduo, near Lahad Datu on Friday.
A Malaysian, reported to be the home owner where the Filipinos were hiding, also died in the Lahad Datu shootout.
Five other policemen died in an attack in Kampung Seri Jaya Siminul in Semporna last night; police chief Tan Sri Ismail Omar confirmed tonight that a sixth policeman died in a skirmish there.
A Filipino Muslim clan claiming royal lineage from the Sulu sultanate had intruded into Sabah on February 9 staking ownership over parts of the Borneo state.
The armed group, estimated to number between 100 and 200 people, have maintained they will not surrender their claim to the land, despite entreaties from the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
Putrajaya, which had earlier attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution with the gunmen, have warned they will not hesitate to take drastic action against the group to get them to leave Sabah.