ESSCom commander Datuk Abd Rashid Harun said the existing detention centre could only accommodate between 6,000 and 8,000 persons.
“So we hope very much that this setback can be overcome, for us to be more proactive and aggressive in tackling the scourge.
“Following the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah, ESSCom was entrusted to conduct operations in the ESSZone; we worked with other agencies to carry them out,” he said.
He told reporters this in conjunction with ESSCom’s second anniversary here, today.
ESSCom was established on April 1, 2013, following the Sulu militant intrusion at Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu in February the same year.
It is responsible for maintaining security and order in the ESSZone which comprises 10 districts stretching 1,733.7 kilometres from Kudat to Tawau.
The 10 districts are Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
On ESSCom’s plans in its third year, Abd Rashid said various strategies had been drawn up by its Operations and Intelligence Division together with its Public Division, which would be carried out in stages.
He also dismissed allegations by certain parties that ESSCom had used excessive force on illegals nabbed in the operations.
“We never use excessive force and are merely following the practice in other countries including our neighbours; ESSCom is responsible for ensuring that the country’s laws particularly immigration, are obeyed,” he said.
On the integrated operation to rid the ESSZone of illegal immigrants, Abd Rashid said as of Feb 28, this year, 6,082 people had been screened in four districts, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Tawau.
He said of the total, 1,269 people were detained and handed to the Immigration Department for further action.
“After the incident at Kampung Tanduo in early 2013, there has not been any intrusion by Sulu terrorists. But we were jolted by a number of kidnappings last year.
“Alhamdulillah, ever since the imposition of the curfew in six districts in the ESSZone on July 19 last year, we have managed to prevent more incidents,” he said.
Abd Rashid said the integrated operations and curfew would be continued; he described the strategy as effective in reinforcing security in the ESSZone.
Meanwhile, ESSCom chief executive officer Ruji Ubi said the security command had managed to gain the confidence of the public although it still faced many potential challenges including kidnappings and smugglings.
He said the cooperation and support from other enforcement agencies had helped ESSCom to maintain security in the ESSZone at its best level.
“The confidence can be reflected in the increasing number of foreign tourist arrivals such as from China and Taiwan in the east coast of Sabah,” he said. — BERNAMA