PETALING JAYA: The Straits of Malacca, which used to be notorious for piracy, is now “pirate-free” due to better enforcement by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Ten years ago, before the agency took over maritime enforcement along the waterway, there were 38 cases of pirate attacks.
Its director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish (pic) said the agency’s enforcement efforts were getting better since taking over coast guard duties in 2005.
“We have been tracking and fighting pirates along the straits. We lowered the number of cases gradually and in 2009 no cases were reported. Since then, there have only been two cases in 2011 but the pirates involved were caught soon after,” he told The Star in an interview.
Adm Mohd Amdan said besides the Malacca straits, the agency also patrolled the South China Sea, especially the waters off Johor, Sarawak and Sabah to prevent intrusion by foreigners.
“Since 2005, we detained 4,929 illegal immigrants, who encroached into our waters and seized 636 boats.
“Detaining the illegals is a priority as intrusions reflect poorly on the country’s border security and threatening the livelihood of local fishermen,” he added.
He said the agency also prevented the smuggling of about 1.2 million litres of diesel and petrol worth RM2.4mil between 2005 and 2013.
“We also collected fines amounting to RM258.9mil,” he said.
Adm Mohd Amdan however, conceded that smuggling could not be fully eradicated because the demand, especially for contraband cigarettes, was still high.
“Although we have seized and destroyed millions of cigarettes, the smugglers keep flooding the market with them.
Adm Mohd Amdan said smugglers used their network to look out for the agency’s vessels.
“They even monitor our landing zones for two or more days before the smuggling attempt.
On rumours of a feud between the agency and marine police, he said it was not true and relations between them were “smooth.”
“We cooperate with marine police. In the end, we are on the same side.
“For example, when marine police vessels are in hot pursuit of pirates and enter areas under our jurisdiction, we allow them to continue.