Piracy: KL worries over spectre of international patrols

Updated On: Apr 05, 2005

Kuantan – Another pirate attack in theMalaccaStraithas ledMalaysiato express its concern that there would be growing pressure from the international community to start their own patrols in the busy waterway. The March 31 incidentwas the fourth pirate attack in the Straitin just over a month.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said on April 2 that there is a need forMalaysiaandIndonesiato step up anti-piracy measures and cooperation.

“We might be pressured by the international community to let them bring in their own patrols if we are not able to tackle the problem,”said Mr Najib, who is also the Defence Minister.

He said the Indonesian government could arrest pirates who escaped into Indonesian territory.

“Only full co-operation between the two countries can help eradicate piracy in the Strait,” Mr Najib told reporters in Kuantan, Pahang.

In the March 31 attack, three pirates, believed to be Indonesians, boarded a Japanese-owned bulk carrier and robbed the crew of US$200,000before fleeing in a fishing boat.The pirates stopped theMV Ocean Bridgeat One Fathom Bank just north of Port Klang.

This is the fourth pirate attack in theMalaccaStraitthis year and the second time involving aJapanese-owned ship.Japan and the United Statesare among the countries which have voiced their concern over the safety of the Strait following the recent attacks.

Mr Najib said the marine police and the Royal Malaysian Navy had been asked to step up patrols in view of the attacks.

From May, uniformed police officers armed with assault weapons will be on board tugboats and barges plying theStrait. This is in addition to the escort service the police launched last month for tugboats and barges carrying valuable cargo.

However, Mr Najib said, the security personnel could not be at all places at all times. “That’s why we are askingIndonesiato co-operate with us,'' he added.

In an interview with UtusanMalaysia, a Malaysian expert in international piracy said one reason why the pirates often manageto escape is related to the issue of maritime borders involving the three littoral states,Malaysia,IndonesiaandSingapore.

“Let’s say the Malaysian marine team managed to track the pirates but when the pirates entered international waters, the hunt had to be stopped,” said Associate Professor Ariffin Omar, from the Centre of Social Studies at the Universiti SainsMalaysia.

“This could not be avoided because maritime borders - whether they involveIndonesia,SingaporeprMalaysia– are extremely sensitive issues,” he added.

* Let’s fight piracy together, Indons told (The Star, April 3)*

* Earthquakes don't worry pirates in Malacca Strait (Utusan Malaysia, April 2)