Saturday, November 15, 2008

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

PORT KLANG, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- Scene 1: Three pirates hijacked a fishing boat, 10 nautical miles off Klang Port.

Within minutes, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's (Maritime Malaysia) elite crack team known as Star team, boarded the fast assault craft, Rubber Hull Inflatable Boat, to rescue the fisherman and the boat.

Two Maritime Malaysia helicopters, Eurocopter Dauphin AS365 N3, were also despatched to the scene.

Scene 2: The fisherman was saved, the boat was recovered and the three pirates were captured.

Both scenes were part of the Maritime Malaysia demonstration on its capabilities in countering piracy/terrorist, smuggling, illegal immigrants as well as search and rescue operation.

Maritime Malaysia Director-General Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish said the scene of ships being hijacked by heavily-armed and well organised pirates in the Gulf of Aden two months ago was unlikely to occur in Malaysian waters.

"Apart from Maritime Malaysia, the country has a strong and credible armed forces which could react quickly to such situations.

"It is very unlikely for such big pirate organisations to establish their footing here. We may have some isolated piracy cases, to be specific those involving petty theft only but not to the extent like the case occurred in Somalia because Somalia is a lawless country," he told reporters on board the KM Langkawi after witnessing the demonstrations recently.

He said Maritime Malaysia would ensure that whatever occurred in the Gulf of Aden would not take place in Malaysian waters.

Furthermore, the littoral states of Straits of Melaka such as Indonesia and Thailand also possessed strong and credible armed forces, thus making big piracy organisations think twice before operating in this region.

Two Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC Berhad) tankers, Bunga Melati 2 and Bunga Melati Lima and their crews were released last month upon payment of ransom.

It is very difficult to hijack a ship for ransom in Malaysian waters," Admiral Mohd Amdan said.


He also said Maritime Malaysia was beefing up its capability with plan to set up fixed-wing and helicopter squadrons.

It hoped to form several squadrons with each squadron consisting of six fixed-wing aircraft or six light and medium-sized helicopters.

For a start, the enforcement agency would receive one amphibious aircraft next month and another one later with the two aircraft costing about RM240 million.

Maritime Malaysia had also set its priority right by acquiring 20 interceptor boats with 60 knots speed soon instead of the original plan for two offshore patrol vessels in safeguarding the country's shoreline.

Set up in Febuary 2005 under the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Act, Maritime Malaysia was tasked to safeguard the peace, safety and sovereignty of the country's maritime zone.

Maritime Malaysia had identified areas to set up their five bases throughout the country as at the moment they share or lease bases from other agencies.

A plot of land adjacent to the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang has also been identified for its permanent air wing squadron, said Admiral Mohd Amdan.

On the illegal immigrant issue, he described locals who harbour illegal immigrant as traitor for willing to sell the country's sovereignty for a few hundred ringgit.

"We have detected various kinds of their modus operandi in smuggling in illegal immigrants. For example, they transfer illegal immigrants from a big ship to several fishermens' boats in the middle of the sea at night," he said.

He called on the locals to help the agency in combating the illegal immigrant problem by providing information.


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