Kuala Lumpur – The United States, whose intentions in the Malacca Strait have long been viewed with suspicion by some of the littoral states, has no plans to set up a military base in Malaysia or conduct join naval patrols in the piracy-prone sea lane, said US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, General Richard B Myers.
While the US will continue to have maritime activity in terms of port calls in the region, it is not considering joint patrol operations with the littoral states of Indonesia,Malaysia and Singapore, he added. However, Gen Myers said a multilateral effort is needed to combat the potential terrorist threat in the strait.
“Bilateral efforts are good to have, and it could easily lead to a multilateral effort when addressing the area of security,” added the USgeneral, who held talks with Armed Forces chief, Admiral Anwar Mohd Nor, on June 6.
His remarks are likely to be welcomed by Malaysiaand Indonesia, which have stressed that they will reject any offer by foreign powers to help patrol theMalaccaStrait. With more than 50,000 ships passing the waterway every year, the strait has become a lucrative target for pirates of all stripes.
In Jakarta, Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono, echoing a view shared by Malaysia, said countries like the US and Japan are welcome to help maintain the security in the Malacca Strait so long as their assistance is not in the form of military forces.
" If certain advanced countries want to give assistance, it is advisable to be in the form of capacity building, but not in the form of military forces or deploying warships," Mr Sudarsono said.
Malaysia’s Utusan Malaysia, in an editorial, acknowledged that maintaining security in the MalaccaStraitrequires a lot of resources – making some form of outside assistance unavoidable. However, the Malay-language newspaper said the sovereignty of the three states should never be compromised in the name of enhancing security in the sea lane.
* Gen Myers: No plans for US bases or patrols in the strait (The Star, June 7) – www.thestar.com.my
* Preserve the sovereignty of Malacca Strait (Utusan Malaysia, June 7) – www.utusan.com.my
* RI still wishes for coordinated patrol in MalaccaStrait(Antara, June 7) – www.antara.co.id