Pirate busters set sights on Sabah’s east coast for terror groups


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 19 Feb 2017

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s pirate busters are now setting their sights on the east coast of Sabah and its notorious kidnap-for-ransom terror groups.

Created as a solution to piracy that plagued our country’s waters over a decade ago, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has all but wiped out piracy in the past few years.

Its director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Seri Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said the agency has come a long way from using second-hand vessels from other enforcement agencies such as police, navy and the Fisheries Department to combat rampant piracy.

“We had to make do but we prevailed. From a 48% crime index 12 years ago when MMEA was formed, it has dipped below 3% in the past few years.

“There were no cases reported for several years in the Straits of Malacca which was once called a war zone,” he said in a recent interview at the MMEA headquarters here.

The agency’s efforts were even recognised with several international awards over the past few years. Now, Ahmad Puzi and the MMEA will be turning their attention to the troubled waters of Sabah’s massive coastline.

“Already, we are setting up new assets in the region and it isn’t just piracy alone. We are looking at terrorism.

“We have built three radars along the west coast of Sabah until Kudat. And more will be installed from Kudat to Sandakan to increase our maritime awareness there,” he said.

Other than that, Ahmad Puzi said the agency was also arming up with new ships, including three new generation offshore patrol vessels worth about RM800mil, fully equipped with long range patrolling and helicopter carrying capabilities.

This is in addition to ships presented to the MMEA by Japan, Australia and Canada.

When asked why these countries willingly gave away their ships to MMEA, Ahmad Puzi said it was a sign of trust and a case of mutual benefit.

“They have their merchant vessels travelling through our waterways, so it serves their interest in helping us. Also, they see that we have proven ourselves to be capable in keeping peace and security in the region,” he said.

Along with the hardware, MMEA is also updating its software by training its personnel to combat a new kind of enemy.

“If you talk about our abilities to combat this threat, we have to look at our human resources. They are being trained not only to fight terrorism and kidnappers but also to operate new equipment.

“We are also working closely with our counterparts in neighbouring countries,” he said.

Ahmad Puzi said the MMEA would not rest on its laurels when it comes to the safety of Malaysian waters.

“Maintaining and improving our efforts to ensure a safe maritime atmosphere are the most challenging parts” he said.

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