KOTA KINABALU: State leaders have condemned the group of people who burned the Sabah flags and urged the authorities to take stern action against the perpetrators.
Gravely concerned about the incident in Lahad Datu on Saturday, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Datuk VK Liew said: “The act is outrageous. We cannot allow anyone including foreign elements to do something like this. Our sovereignty must be protected at all costs.”
He told New Sabah Times that the authorities must probe the matter and take serious action.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan said he was shocked by the incident and called on the police to investigate.
“It is a serious matter,” said Pairin who is also a Deputy Chief Minister, adding that he did not think Sabahans would do a thing like this.
UPKO president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said the authorities must probe deep into the incident and enforce the law accordingly.
“If the culprits are foreigners, then they have shown no respect for this country. Why should they be here?,” he quipped.
Dompok who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added that it would be an act of disloyalty to the state and country if the culprits were Malaysians.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the authorities, especially the police, should view the matter seriously.
He said Sabahans were shocked by this flag burning incident.
“It is a provocative act which could lead to unrest if not for the quick action by the police,” he said.
Masidi who is also Sabah Umno assistant secretary added that what happened was “very unsabahan” as Sabahans were peace-loving people who were proud of their rich cultural heritage.
And, he hoped the relevant authorities would take firm action against the culprits.
“If the alleged culprits are Malaysian citizens, it is obvious their action is unpatriotic. And if they are not citizens of this country, the full brunt of the law should be applied to remind foreigners in Sabah to be law-abiding and respect the laws of this country,” he pointed out.
Masidi added that there were other avenues to settle any dispute or unhappiness without resorting to flag burning.
Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said the act of burning the Sabah flags was uncivilised.
“I condemn the act and urge the authorities to take appropriate action against the culprits,” said Kurup who is also Deputy Regional and Rural Development Minister.
Meanwhile a Sabah Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader said the authorities must identify those behind the act.
“How come they are so daring?…we must look into the matter seriously,” said PKR Penampang divisional chief Dr Edwin Bosi.
The New Sabah Times reported on Sunday that 12 people including a man who claimed to be a descendent of the Sultan of Sulu were arrested for burning the state flags.
Lahad Datu police chief Supt Md Suhaimi Abdul Rahman said they received information at about 8.40am on Saturday that a group of men had burned six Sabah flags in front of the town market and a supermarket and some of them were also seen carrying yellow flags with a red insignia of a lion on them.
He said the motive of the incident was being probed.