KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has voiced its uneasiness about the presence of foreign warships in the Straits of Malacca and South China Sea.
“It could create a misconception that the area is in turmoil,” said MMEA director-general Admiral Maritime Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abu Bakar (pic).
Last week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad raised the matter when he voiced out that Malaysia would rather not have warships in its waters.
These warships could send out the wrong signal, which would be unhealthy for peace and stability in the area, Dr Mahathir said.
However, Malaysia could not itself enforce a warship-free area in the two seas.
As for the battle against piracy and sea robbery, Zulkifli said MMEA had successfully apprehended 11 sea robbers who hijacked MT MGT 01 in September last year.
“And on June 1, MMEA apprehended another 14 who were involved in robbing the master and crew of MT Lee Bo of their personal belongings,” he said.
Zulkifli said the safety and security of the Straits of Malacca and South China Sea on the Malaysian side were well under control.
“Therefore, the presence of foreign warships for this purpose is totally unnecessary as Malaysia is fully capable of protecting its waterways,” he said.
The South China Sea has been a contentious area, with disputes occurring over island and maritime claims from, besides Malaysia, China, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.
An estimated US$5 trillion (RM19 trillion) worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea every year and many non-claimant states want the sea to remain as international waters.
To promote this, several countries, including the United States, conduct freedom of navigation operations.