KUALA LUMPUR: Closer cooperation between countries and having armed guards on merchant ships are among ways being considered to improve maritime security.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said countries, especially those in South-East Asia, must enhance cooperation and work together to fight piracy.
“We need to signal to smugglers and pirates that they cannot operate with impunity. Thus, we need to improve intelligence gathering and sharing.
“A database on maritime crime must be put together like the one in Somalia, which enable the authorities to track the culprits as well as the kingpins,” he said after launching the International Meeting on Global Piracy, Armed Robbery and Maritime Security here yesterday.
He added that hiring armed guards on merchant ships would also be a good deterrent as it would show the criminals that the risk is greater than the reward.
“We are definitely looking at that possibility. It has helped merchant ships in Somalia.
“In this matter we need to rope in the private sector,” he said.
International Maritime Bureau director P. Mukundan said 177 attacks resulting in 15 vessels hijacked and 203 crew members taken hostage were recorded last year globally.
“The previous year, 244 attacks were recorded with 21 vessels hijacked and 240 crew members taken hostage.
“Attacks on small tankers is prevalent in the South China Sea. In Malaysia, the authorities have acted swiftly by arresting a number of gangs and it might be a good deterrent,” he said.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency deputy director-general Maritime First Admiral Datuk Che Hassan Jusoh said the agency had identified the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea waters between Malaysia and Philippines as the hot spots for maritime crime.
“We are working closely with neighbouring countries to tackle maritime robberies and piracy,” he said.