Abolish Esscom, let’s turn to private defense

By Medecci Lineil

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) took plenty of criticism when two foreign nationals were abducted from Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna, Sabah.

Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi, in responding to critics, said: “If it were up to me I would say these resorts on small, isolated islands should be closed. No one can guarantee the safety of these places when they are situated far of the coast. The police and military can’t be there all the time.”

What does this mean? It means that while the government maintains a monopoly on defending power on the east coast of Sabah, and its millions or maybe billions in taxpayers’ money somehow does not allow Esscom to do the job adequately. Impossible!

Something as important as life and death cannot be left to the whims of government officials i.e. Esscom which prioritises assets for political considerations. So what is the solution? Abolish Esscom and let’s turn to private defense. Totally private defense instead of taxpayers’ funded Esscom would be a much attractive option.

First, this option would vary widely from coast to coast based on need. In some places no tight security may be required while in others like Singamata Reef Resort, tight security would be created. The point is Esscom uses a one size fits all model wherever they go, regardless of the local realities.

Second and relatedly, in the context of resort vulnerable to threats around the area, they would desire and be willing to pay for defense for themselves. Buying a gun may not be enough. The resort would naturally take on the business providing defense to protect themselves against the threats.

Third, if the Esscom ceased to provide defense and security services, entrepreneurs would step in to meet demand. Open competition will provide plentiful defense agencies, from neighbourhood watches to large insurance firms coordinating with each other over a region. Poor residents would have difficulty acquiring defense than the resorts but that’s true of any service.

If insurance companies can underwrite large and destructive events like floods, air crashes, properties, then why can they not underwrite the probability and liability of terrorism or invasion of Abu Sayyaf armies? The conclusion is abolish Esscom, let’s turn to private defense.

Published in Free Malaysia Today on 8 April 2014.

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