According to NST, celebrity preacher and philanthropist Ebit Lew is not able to extend his charity work at islands off Semporna on the east coast of Sabah due to security reasons.
Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said Semporna is located within the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) and as such, is subject to a dusk-to-dawn sea curfew imposed by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
He said the state government regards the safety of the people seriously, including non-governmental organisations and individuals planning to do charity work, especially in areas which pose a high-security risk.
“People cannot simply move around, there is a security risk. The police and security forces take this seriously, especially if it involves the presence of outsiders to avoid them being the target of attempted criminal activities. If anyone wants to do charity work (within the Esszone), they can do so during the time allowed, but not during the restricted curfew hours (6pm to 6am),” he said yesterday (2 Feb).
In case you didn’t know, the Esszone has been under a sea curfew since 2014 following a series of kidnappings and an intrusion by armed groups from the Philippines.
Masidi said he hoped the explanation would clear any negative assumptions, stressing that the state government, police and Esscom have never ordered a halt to the preacher’s mission.
ICYMI, yesterday morning Ebit Lew posted a photo of himself in a boat with his head down.
The preacher wrote, “I can no longer continue my humanitarian mission. I am halting my intentions to build a school. This morning I have been informed that I am not allowed to go to the Semporna islands. I’ve been asked to stop distributing aid around here. I was told that I could be fined RM100,000 or be imprisoned for three years.”
Many assumed that Ebit’s humanitarian mission was halted after he led a mass conversion ceremony that involved 490 people from four different villages in Semporna.