SEMPORNA, Nov 11 — The Joint Task Force 2 (ATB 2) of the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) is ready and working together with the Royal Malaysia Police to curb any external threats, especially during the 15th General Election (GE15).

ATB 2 chief of staff Colonel Wan Amir Zaki Wan Hassan this includes carrying out operations to prevent external elements from invading the country’s waters.

“Besides operational cooperation under the coordination of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom), we also cooperate with the Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia (KRI) in Tawau in dealing with cross-border crimes,” he told reporters at a programme with media practitioners at Pulau Pandanan here last night.

Various activities were held during the one-day programme, officiated by Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Muez Abd Aziz, including a combat ration cooking competition.

Elaborating, Wan Amir Zaki said that ATB 2 also succeeded in thwarting a series of cross-border crimes, including attempts by illegal immigrants to infiltrate into Sabah waters and to smuggle petrol and cigarettes.

However, he hoped that the number of ATB 2 personnel and assets could be increased to ensure operational tasks could be carried out at an optimum level.

Meanwhile, Muez said the ministry would look into the assets requirement and improve facilities such as military housing and camps in Sabah.

“We are planning to build a new camp and housing for army personnel at the Fifth Brigade camp in Kota Belud and 13th Brigade camp in Lahad Datu,” he said.

Commenting on the programme, he said the ministry always needs the support and cooperation of the media to channel accurate information that can form a positive perception and increase public confidence in the ability of the Defence Ministry and the ATM to defend the country’s sovereignty.

“The objective of this programme is to appreciate the services and contributions of the media that help raise the image of the Defence Ministry and ATM through positive news reporting, with 29,202 news reports recorded from January to August this year,” he added.

In addition, Muez said the Armed Forces in Sabah are not only focused on security operations but also conduct social services such as planting trees and assisting tourists.

A Bernama survey found that military personnel at the Pulau Pandanan Post also helped the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Sabah Parks in turtle conservation efforts by collecting turtle eggs and releasing turtle hatchlings into the sea, with 136 hatchlings released within this week. — Bernama