Nations express apprehension despite Sabah assurance

Published on : Sunday, November 24, 2013

In view of the law and order situation arising out the kidnap-murder incident in Pulau Pom Pom on Nov. 15 several nations have issued warnings to travellers to reconsider the need to travel to dive sites in the East Coast of Sabah.

 
A statement was issued by the Sabah Tourism Board, assuring travellers on safety at the islands a day after the incident, however, did not deter several foreign ministries from urging its citizens to remain vigilant here. Australia gave the note “reconsider your need to travel” to the coastal region of eastern Sabah, including nearby islands and dive sites, on Nov. 18.

 
“This incident highlights the ongoing risk of violent crime, including kidnapping, in eastern Sabah by groups based in the Southern Philippines,” the Australian Foreign Ministry travel advisory said.

 
On Nov. 20, the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur also warned US citizens to exercise extreme caution when travelling to Semporna to the islands of Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Ligitan, Sipadan and Mataking. It advised American travellers to remain aware of their surroundings, including local events and monitor local news stations for updates.

 
Meanwhile, Canada said: “Despite increased security in the region, the risk of kidnapping and violence perpetrated by Philippine militants remains, especially on resort islands and surrounding waters, including around Sipadan.”

 
On Nov. 16, Sabah Tourism Board updated its advisory assuring that police are now investigating the case as a criminal case, for murder and abduction.

 
“We wish to add that all other visitors on the Resort Island of Pom Pom are safe. They are not affected by the incident and continue with their holiday-stay.

 
“We wish to assure that Sabah is safe to visit, including the resort islands off Semporna,” said its General Manager Datuk Irene Charuruks.

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