KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is hoping for the procurement of more assets and an increase in personnel under Budget 2023, to be tabled this Friday (Oct 7).
MMEA director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the agency needed assets that were suitable and able to last a long time for more effective patrols and enforcement in the country’s territorial waters.
He said MMEA is faced with challenges in carrying out operations as some of its assets are old and this hampered the agency from carrying out its tasks.
"We also face problems when our vessels have to be sent for routine maintenance, which may sometimes take up to a year or more because of problems getting the spare parts,” he told Bernama recently.
Mohd Zubil said MMEA vessels were sent for routine maintenance to ensure they were always in good condition for the safety of MMEA officers and personnel.
According to him, MMEA currently has 70 ships and 193 boats with most of them due for maintenance.
"The allocation we received last year and also the previous year was limited, forcing us to send only selected ships for repair, while the routine maintenance had to be deferred due to the high cost that will be incurred,” he said.
Despite the various challenges, Mohd Zubil said, the agency was able to reduce the number of encroachments by foreign boats into Malaysian waters from 241 cases last year to 130 as of September this year.
"For the agency to maintain such a performance, the preparedness of its assets and human resources has to be at the optimum level for the agency to operate smoothly and effectively," he said.
Mohd Zubil said the move would also be vital to safeguard the safety and security of the country's waters from any criminal threats, especially cross-border crimes such as the smuggling of foreign immigrants, drugs and the intrusion of foreign fishing boats. - Bernama