Saturday, January 25, 2020

Deaths During Lunar New Year

Medical staff at Central Hospital in Wuhan, China treat patients

The coronavirus is casting a pall over Lunar New Year, China’s biggest and most festive holiday. 

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the country climbs sharply to more than 1,287, with at least 41 deaths reported as of this morning. Eighteen cities are in lockdown as the authorities scrambled to contain the rampaging infection. 

Worldwide, the total stands at 1,321 confirmed infections, according to Al Jazeera's count, with cases also reported in Australia (1), France (3), Hong Kong (5), Japan (2), Macau (2), Malaysia (3), Nepal (1), Singapore (3), South Korea (2), Taiwan (3), Thailand (5), United States (2), and Vietnam (2). 

On the security front, Malaysia is being embarrassed because ESSCOM (or the Eastern Sabah Security Command), which was established in 2013 as a Malaysian security area blanketing 1,400 km of the east coast of Sabah from Kudat to Tawau had seen yet another breach. 

On January 16, five fishermen, part of an eight-man crew aboard a Sabah-registered fishing vessel (above pic) were abducted from the eastern edge of Sabah waters off Lahad Datu by a kidnap-for-ransom group linked to the notorious Abu Sayyaf from southern Philippines. 

The kidnapped crewmen were the trawler's skipper Arsyad Dahlan, 41, La Baa, 32, Riswanto Hayano, 27, Edi Lawalopo, 53, and Syarizal Kastamiran, 29 – all are Indonesians working for a Sandakan based fishing company. 

The latest incident underscored the poor security in the tri-border area between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Are ESSCOM even effective? 

The Indonesian government couldn’t keep silent anymore and so their Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar on Monday expressed disappointment in the inability of Malaysia's authorities to secure its borders. 

He also expressed the hope that our government would work swiftly to take the necessary steps to handle the fresh kidnappings to ensure the safety of the hostages. 

Furthermore, he urged Malaysia to strengthen its commitment to protecting Indonesian fishermen operating in its waters. 

The Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta were not immediately available for comment. 

On Thursday, the Malaysian Armed Forces issued a statement: “The MAF views the incident, which occurred within Tambisan (Sabah) waters seriously”. So, what are you going to do about it? 

Enough of words lah. I think it’s always better to attack than to defend, if you understand what I'm alluding to. I repeat, the best defense is a good offense.

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