The Sabah government has offered 50 acres of land in the east coast district of Sandakan for the development of Peoples Volunteer Corps Rela Second Training Centre in the state, Chief Minister Musa Aman announced today.

Speaking to reporters after officiating the commencement of duty of Rela at the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) in Tuaran near here, Musa said the offer was a mark of appreciation for the corps’ service to the people.

“I have offered land in Sandakan to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for the purpose of developing a second training site for Rela in the state. I have ordered that this site in Sandakan be earmarked and prepared to be handed over to Rela.

“We already have the first training centre in Kota Kinabalu, which is in Sabah’s west coast, and this second centre will make training more convenient and less costly for Rela personnel in the east coast.”

Musa, who is state finance minister, said the state government was willing to increase the land acreage allocation for this purpose if needed.

“When the construction of the second training centre will begin is up to the home affairs ministry,” he said.

“If necessary, we will increase the land allocation as a mark of appreciation for the services and contributions of Rela to the welfare and safety of the people.”

Musa also announced an allocation of RM6 million for Rela’s uniforms and equipment.

Zahid had in September last year announced that more than 120,000 Rela personnel would be stationed as a second line of defence in phases in the Esszone.

For starters, 500 Rela members will be trained and based at the Esszone, which covers some 1,700km of coastline in Sabah’ east coast.

The Esszone, encompassing maritime and land areas, was created in 2013 following the armed intrusion of Lahad Datu by militants sent by the self-styled Sultanate of Sulu to reassert its territorial claim over Sabah.

The first line of defence in the Esszone falls within the purview of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), which consists of agencies from the police and military.

Security in the Sulu Sea off Sabah’s east coast, where piracy and kidnappings were rampant previously, was drastically increased following the inception of Esscom and Esszone.

No kidnappings and ship hijackings were recorded last year in the Esszone, where security was at its highest level during the five-month battle between pro-Islamic State groups and troops in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

Security in the Esszone was heightened following concern about the possible entry of terrorists involved in the Marawi and other conflicts in Mindanao following heavy offensives by the Philippine security authorities.-FMT

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