Jakarta - To convince the world that the littoral states are capable of guarding the safety of the Malacca Strait themselves - thus preempting any need for foreign intervention - Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to intensify cooperation in the form of coordinated patrols along the 500-mile sealane.
For example, if Indonesian security forces were chasing pirates and the culprits entered Malaysia, the Indonesians would be allowed to enter the country in coordination with their Malaysian counterparts.
The agreement was reached during a seminar on security and safety in the Malacca Strait organised by Indonesia's Foreign Ministry in Jakarta on Sept 7.
Rear Admiral Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Indonesia's Western Fleet Commander, said the "more intensive cooperation" was aimed at avoiding the interference of foreign forces in improving security and safety in the strait.
However, the littoral states would welcome foreign assistance in the form of intelligence data and technology exchange, he added.
The Indonesian Navy has spotted several places along the Malacca Strait which will serve as reporting points and locations for radar to support aerial operations to monitor activities in the area.
Earlier, in a speech at the start of the two-day conference, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayada played down fears that pirates could link up with terrorists to wreak havoc in the Malacca Strait. He said that pirates and terrorists had different goals.
"While terrorists want to halt world trade, the sea robbers would be out of business without world trade," AFP quoted Mr Hassan as saying.
He also expressed concern about news report that Singapore was allowing private security guards to operate on vessels in its territorial waters.
"The last thing we want is a clash of interests between nations in the Strait of Malacca and the Singapore Strait" he said.
* Malacca Strait pirates 'unlikely to aid terrorists' (The Straits Times, Sept 8)
* Security maintenance in the Malacca Strait (Antara, Sept 7)