Prime Minister says no truce unless intruders surrender unconditionally
Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday Kuala Lumpur will not consider any request for a ceasefire so long as the armed intruders in Sabah do not lay down arms unconditionally.
Najib, who visited Sabah three days after security forces launched an offensive against the armed intruders in Lahad Datu, said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III had contacted him for Malaysia's reaction to the call for a ceasefire by Jamalul Kiram III.
"I informed President Aquino that they need to surrender unconditionally and their weapons have to be handed over to us," he told a news conference in Felda Sahabat 16 in Lahad Datu.
Media reports from the Philippines today quoted Jamalul Kiram III as asking his people to lay down their arms in Lahad Datu after several members of his group were killed in an offensive launched by the Malaysian security forces on Tuesday after the intruders had killed eight policemen on March 1 and 2. Eighteen of the intruders were also killed in the two skirmishes with the security forces.
Meanwhile, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon proposed that the parties involved in the Sabah situation seek a peaceful solution.
Najib said the government would go to any length to ensure the security, peace and sovereignty of Sabah.
On Tuesday, security forces launched an aerial and ground offensive to end the intrusion by the Sulu militants and security forces were proceeding with the mopping-up operation.
The prime minister said the operation against the militants would continue until they surrendered.
He said Malaysia respected humanitarian principles and had given ample time for negotiations with the militants before launching the offensive.
"We gave them more than three weeks (to negotiate) and delayed (the offensive) four times. We only acted after they killed eight of our policemen," he said.
Najib, who expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the operation jointly mounted by the police and military, said the security forces had defeated the militants who had holed up in Kampung Tanduo since Feb 12.
"The close cooperation between the police and the military in combining their expertise and strength in an integrated operation is an excellent approach to acting firmly against the group," he said.
Najib said no one should underestimate the government's commitment to uphold the principle that Sabah was a part of Malaysia forever.
"This cannot be questioned by anyone, both from within the country or outside. We will be resolute in defending this principle, fact and truth with our total force," he said. - Bernama
--Courtesy of The Borneo Post Online