KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal for Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to patrol the Sulu Sea together to fight maritime crime and terrorism is one step closer to becoming a reality.
In the latest development, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein attended a meeting with Indonesian Defence Minister Gen Ryamizard Ryacudu and Philippines Defence Minister Voltaire Gazmin in Manila on Monday to discuss the initiative.
The initiative aims to emulate the success of the Malacca Strait Sea Patrol (MSSP), which has reduced piracy, robbery, kidnapping and smuggling activities in the busy strait since 2004.
Hishammuddin said that the three components of the new initiative would comprise a joint air patrol codenamed “Eyes In The Sky”, coordinated naval patrol and exchange of military intelligence between the three countries.
“The meeting in Manila on Monday went well. I am happy to announce that the template for MSSP can also be used for the joint patrol in Sulu.
“All three defence ministers could accept and agree to the components of the initiative. The meeting was a success,” he said at the Defence Ministry yesterday.
Hishammuddin said that he would be meeting with the two defence ministers in Jakarta next month to finalise the initiative.
He discussed the initiative earlier this year with Gen Ryamizard in Yogyakarta, and Gazmin in Laos during the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
Statistics provided by the Navy showed a decline in the activities since MSSP was implemented in 2004 with Singapore and Indonesia participating in the initiative in 2006 and Thailand in 2008.
While there were 37 piracy and robbery cases at sea reported in 2004, only three were reported in 2015.
There has been no report of incidents in the strait between January and May this year.
Hishammuddin said he had also requested that companies benefiting from the stability in the Malacca Strait and Sulu Sea assist in efforts to ensure maritime safety.
“Companies using the Malacca Strait don’t need to pay a high premium for insurance because it is no longer seen as a war zone,” he said after presenting tokens of appreciation to various corporations and NGOs for donating to the Malaysian Armed Forces in conjunction with this year’s Hari Raya celebrations.
Also present were Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is president of the Welfare Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).