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'Cooperation possible if littoral states' rights respected'

Updated On: Aug 02, 2005

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia is ready to cooperate with the big powers, such as the United StatesJapan and Australia, to combat piracy in the Malacca Strait so long as the issue of sovereignty is clearly understood. 

     "We are quite willing to cooperate, we are quite willing to have confidence building measures and inter-session discussions. (But) of course, the primary responsibility based on international law is on the littoral states and they are also responsible to ensure safety of navigation in that area," said Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar on the sidelines of the 12th Asean Regional Forum (ARF) in Vientiane, Laos, on July 29.
    He noted that there are fears that terrorism on the high seas, left  unaddressed, could lead to a new phenomenon, threatening world peace and security even beyond the littoral states. 
    "We do not want the Strait of Malacca to become a pirate-infested area or a potential area where pirates can operate freely," he said.  
    He also referred to Singapore's comment that the low-insurance market has placed the Malacca Strait as a danger zone, thus increasing cost of insurance on ships going through the waterway.
    "We are aware of these things. When we talk about primary responsibility, it does not mean we will exclude people who are willing to help us. But we are just seeking an understanding on the question of primary responsibility. Those who are interested to assist us are most welcome," Mr Syed Hamid said.
    To beef up security in their shared waterways, Malaysia and Singapore have already started talks on air patrols. "The Malaysian and Singapore navies are already in discussion on this proposal and we hope that Indonesia can be involved … and eventually other states interested in advancing maritime security in the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Singapore," Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said in Vientiane on July 29.

* Littoral states open to outside views on Melaka Straits (Bernama, July 30)

* Singapore-KL talks on air patrols (The Straits Times, July 30)