Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia's marine police have set up a new tactical unit to assist in the fight against piracy and kidnappings, especially in the Malacca Strait. Some 30 officers have been trained to take quick action in the event of an attack.
The unit's immediate focus will be on the piracy-prone Malacca Strait, a busy waterway that links Asia to Europe and the Middle East.
Marine police commander Senior Assistant Commissioner I Abdul Rahman Ahmad said the case of pirates hijacking a tanker north of Langkawi last month showed that there was a need for such a tactical unit. In that incident, 10 armed pirates held the tanker crew hostage for nearly 12 hours before surrendering to police who laid siege to the ship.
"This unit can also be transported quickly by air if there is a need for them to conduct rescue in other areas, such as in Sabah. Eventually, a similar unit may be set up in Sabah and Sarawak, but we will have to consider several factors such as costs," he said on July 15.
Apart from the new tactical unit, the marine police also plan to set up its own investigative unit.
SAC Abdul Rahman also said the marine police will continue to focus on protecting coastal activities such as ports, oil refineries and tourist islands. He said Sabah, which had faced kidnapping incidents in the past, is also protected by other enforcement units such as the General Operations Force, navy and army.
* Anti-piracy unit formed (The Star, July 16)