Malacca Strait rampant with pirates
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has emphasized the importance of securing the Malacca Strait not only from illegal fishing but also from crime and environmental damage.
“I will meet the Defense Ministers from Singapore and Malaysia to discuss the security situation in the Malacca strait,” Ryamizard said after attending a defense ministry executive meeting in Jakarta recently.
The Malacca Strait is a maritime area that borders four states; Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The strait connects three major oceans: the South China Sea in the North with the Indian Ocean in the South along with the Pacific Ocean to the East.
Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are still involved in joint sea and air patrols along in the Malacca area.
According to Ryamizard, there are several actual issues related to the strait that should be addressed immediately.
“We don’t want the [currently low security presence] in the Malacca strait to invite more pirates and as it is Indonesia has become the country that is expected to clean the strait of oil spills,” the minister said.
A center focusing on piracy and armed robbery, Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), reported that there have been 129 sea attacks reported so far from January to September 2014, predominantly in Indonesia, the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Singapore.
Of the total attacks, 117 were actual attacks and 12 others were attempted attacks.
The center said that the number of incidents has surpassed the 99 attacks in the same period in 2013. However, the center did not give any specific data on the crime cases in the Malacca strait alone.
The Indonesian Navy acknowledged the existence of criminals in the Malacca Strait. Even though the number was not high, it was still a serious problem for the strait’s security.
“The most common crime is ship robbery. The criminals attack small speed boats or fishing vessels and rob them on the spot,” Navy spokesman, Commodore Manahan Simorangkir, told The Jakarta Post recently.
He said that the Navy was trying to secure the area, with assistance from neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
Last week, the Indonesian Navy apprehended six pirates involved in a sea piracy network operating in the straits of Malacca and Singapore. The perpetrators, who were residents of Terong island, Riau Islands province, had robbed three ships passing through the straits. The Navy confiscated 0.5 kilograms of marijuana, 104 small packages of marijuana and a package of crystal methamphetamine from the suspects.
It was also reported that the Malacca strait was a favorite route for illegal migrants. A recent report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) revealed that hundreds of Rohingya people had chosen the Malacca Strait as their new route to reach Australia for safety.