Kuala Lumpur - Since 911, there has been much talk about how vulnerable the Malacca Strait is to maritime terrorism - so much so that foreign powers like theUnited States and Japan have offered to help patrol the busy sea lane. As the littoral states ponder over how much foreign help they should accept, a commentator in a Malaysian newspaper has raised an intriguing poser: Is the false flag being waved over Malacca Strait?
False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations or other organisations which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities.
In his commentary in Utusan Malaysia, Mr Ruhanie Ahmad noted that there had been much talk in recent years about how governments and analysts from institutions such as the International Maritime Bureau had expressed concerns about the possibility of a group of terrorists seizing a ship laden with oil and using it to destroy an important harbour or military facilities in the Malacca Strait.
The former government MP added that the sea lane had also been portrayed as a haven for Al-Qaeda-linked Muslim terrorists who were out to establish a caliphate throughout the region.
"The question is - how true is the above propaganda and can it be trusted? Isn’' it possible that it is just mere fiction with a hidden motive?" Mr Ruhanie wrote in the Malay-language newspaper.
The former journalist offered one possible motive behind what he called the "propaganda": To instil fear among the leaders in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, the three littoral states of the Malacca Strait.
"The goal could be to persuade the leaders in these countries to allow some big powers to be physically involved in the policing of the Malacca Strait," said the writer, whose country, along with Indonesia, has long expressed reservations about a foreign military presence in the Strait.
Mr Ruhanie urged his readers to familiarise themselves with the false flag concept "if we want to understand the current propaganda on the Malacca Strait andSoutheast Asia".
He concluded his commentary - that is likely to be dismissed as hogwash by some but may resonate among others in the region - by saying that there is a need for the littoral states to be on alert against any action by foreign parties that may undermine regional security in the near future.
* Propaganda in Malacca Strait (Utusan Malaysia, July 6)