The Defence Ministry is now responsible for overseeing East Sabah's 1,400 km coastline which was previously under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department.
Its minister, Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Sabah's waters, monitored by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, would be the responsibility of his ministry and the Malaysian Royal Navy following the new directive.
"I received this command last Friday in a letter given to me from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the minister reponsible for the MMEA.
"MMEA's command in Sabah has been handed over to me (Defense Ministry), it is no longer under the JPM," he told reporters after a courtesy call from Singapore Armed Forces Lieutenant-General Neo Kian Hong at the Defense Ministry, here Thursday.
Ahmad Zahid said the move was necessary for coordinated operations between the navy and MMEA.
"I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his trust and will take this responsibility to defend and carry out surveillance on the coastline and waters of East Sabah," he said.
He said it was a meaningful move as the Defense Ministry would help the MMEA in terms of additional assets and other necessities which would be further discussed with Muhyiddin and MMEA director-general Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish.
In reply to a question on the arrests made in Sabah, Ahmad Zahid said:
"We have an amicable relationship with the Philippines in terms of defense. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire T Gazmin has contacted me by phone and said he has mobilized the navy and coastal guards."
He said the arrests made were on potential intruders from the Sulu island or those from Malaysian waters entering their area.
On the courtesy call, Ahmad Zahid said it was a farewell visit from Kian Hong who will be leaving the Singapore Armed Forces to serve the public sector.