Daily Express Sabah

Cops Must Be Serious On These Dangerous Substance

by Selvaraja Somiah

At agriculture chemical shops, mostly in Tawau, it is available by the truck loads. Plantations and small time farmers spread thousands of tonnes of it across Sabah every year.

Even fishermen use it all across Sabah waters from Semporna right up to Brunei.

Its Ammonium Nitrate, one of the worlds cheapest fertilizer. Although ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a benign fertilizer, it has been used by terrorists who mix it with some other substance also readily available, to make Anfo, a deadly bomb.

It has been a terror weapons of choice for making car and truck bombs like the one used in Bali and Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh used 4000 pounds of Anfo to blow up the Oklahoma City Federal Building.

A boat-full of ammonium nitrate was stopped somewhere in Sulawesi last month by the Indonesian Navy and the three persons in the boat were confirmed terrorists with links to JI, an arm of al-Queda. They had just visited Tawau and even Time magazine reported this in their September issue.

Another chemical popularly used by the fishermen in Sabah as fish bomb is Sodium Chlorate (ClNaO3). This is also freely available in Sabah and it is a colourless powder packed in 50 kilo drums. Sodium Chlorate is a weedicide but it is highly explosive when it reacts with other substances which is known to terrorists.

Malaysia must impose tighter restrictions on the sale of ammonium nitrate, urea and sodium chlorate. Especially in Sabah, in the east coast towns where people with mischievous intent may transit as they reside using fake documents – remember “Project M”?

Fertilizer dealers must be subject to scrutiny and special licences. They must also record the driver’s license number of every buyer.

Besides, they must also keep a record of their sales for checking purpose by the police like what they do for scrap metals.

We must recognise that the security landscape has changed following the September 11, 2001 bombings. Our fertilizer dealers must be monitored by police just like what they do for weapons.

They must also go harder on fishbombers compared to previously so that the abuse of sodium chlorate is eliminated.

Sabah is probably the only State in the nation where these are readily available and hence the need to take exceptional measures.


Daily Express Sabah

Cannot Shut Eye On Pesticide Sales

by Selvaraja Somiah

On 25.11.05 my letter “Cop Must Be Serious On These Dangerous Substance” appeared in Forum.

Exactly seven months later, police have come out with a media statement on this matter. I take my hat off to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, for this.

Musa in fact, hit the nail on the head when he said in a media briefing in Kota Kinabalu on 24.6.06 that the sale of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and other explosive fertilizer chemicals will be recommended to be controlled whereby the seller and the buyer identities will be recorded.

It is high time. Yes, high time the agrochemical suppliers are scrutinised and let me tell your concerned readers why.

The problem is the overtly mercenary attitude prevalent in the agrochemical suppliers, especially among certain dealers, who tend to put self interest above everything else and willing to sell their soul for a plate of nasi kandar.

REMEMBER THE 1985 riots in Sabah? There was bombing in all the main towns of Sabah. Where did you think the ingredients for making the bombs come from?

Of course from the agrochemicals suppliers.

And how about the fishbombers who have been doing it almost on a daily basis all over Sabah since the days of USNO? Where do you think they get their supplies to make the fish bombs if not from our friendly agrochemical suppliers.

I know of one agrochemical dealer in Tawau who was caught and jailed for selling and dealing with stolen fertilizers – and he is still operating in Tawau and Lahad Datu and is one of the big dealers there. Another dealer, a born-again christian, also in Tawau, was mastermind to the supply of close to RM1 million worth of adulterated pesticide which was all water infact, to a semi-government body. There are many more out there, with dark past and who are still supplying chemicals and fertilizers in the agriculture industry.

On 25.01.06, Sitompul the Indonesian Police Chief for East Kalimantan, said two people were arrested in Nunukan for smuggling 3000 explosive detonators and ammonium nitrate.

They were smuggling the explosives on a passenger ferry docked in Nunukan brought in from Tawau by a Malaysian boat. The fertilizer explosive and ammonium nitrate where bought from a agrochemical dealer from Tawau!

The two are believed to have had ties with late fugitive Malaysian terror mastermind Nordin Mohammad Top and were members of a new group called Tandzim Qoudatul Jihad, an arm of al-Queda.

So you can see why this scrutiny of both seller and buyers of these dangerous substance is so important and necessary.

We must recognise that the security landscape has changed following the Twin Tower September 11, 2001 bombings. Our fertilizer dealers must be monitored by police just like they do for weapons. There should be no compromise.

There are bound to be black sheep’s in any industry and they should be weeded out. My plea here is a more through scrutiny of the personalities.

We should not be too hasty in prescribing solutions to an unclear problem but what is needed now is courage, will power and resolute actions to address these ills and prevent the situation from getting out of control.

Thumbs up again to Musa Hassan!

ps. Musa was Deputy IGP then when I wrote this piece. Now he is IGP.

  1. […] HERE when even way back in 2005 the CIA from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur came to interview me after […]


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