KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal under the Sulu Sea Patrol Initiative(SSPI) for Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to patrol the Sulu Sea together to fight maritime crime and terrorism is already at the final stage, said Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Johari Baharom (pic).
“We have already come to an understanding between the three Defence Ministers. The working group is working seriously on the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) on how the patrols will be carried out. The template is the same as the Malacca Straits. I think now it is at a final stage,” he told a press conference after officiating the 10th Asean Navy Chiefs Meeting (ANCM) held from Aug 22 to 25 at the Malaysian Armed Forces Officers’ Mess here.
He added that this was an effort to prevent kidnapping and piracy as the Sulu Sea is the most sensitive area in the region.
“Other (Asean) countries in this region are very concerned over what is happening in that area (Sulu Sea). Even though they are not involved (in the initiative), we have their support,” he added.
The initiatives specified under the SSPI framework comprise joint air patrols, coordinated naval patrols and exchange of military intelligence between Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
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.
Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin, who chaired the ANCM, said that the trilateral cooperation framework was signed on July 14 in Jakarta that was followed by a Trilateral Minister of Defence Meeting on Aug 2 to consolidate the mechanism of coordinated patrols in the respective maritime areas.
On the ANCM, Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman said the theme “Enhancing Operational Interoperability” was an encompassing theme for the forum to strengthen cooperation in maritime security matters among Asean member countries.
Among the issues that will be discussed during the meeting are issues on humanitarian assistance as well as addressing issues on countering piracy in the region.
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