This article is in response to “MMEA is doing a good job” and “MMEA can do the job alone” in The Star recently.

As an observer in maritime issues, I would like to oppose the former’s view and share some of my insights into and provide greater powers to the marine police.

The marine police’s power to operate in the sea has never been withdrawn because there is no amendment made to the law to refrain the police from operating in territorial waters.

It was just a cabinet decision to provide division of operating areas.

The establishment of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is for the enforcement and protection of Malaysian waters from piracy and human trafficking. Piracy only happened in area beyond 12nm according to international law.

This shows that MMEA should operate in an area beyond 12nm and not in Malaysian territorial waters. Likewise, human trafficking should be stopped before it enters our territorial waters.

Policing needs integration of effort between land, sea and air assets. That is why most countries in the world have land, air and sea units to carry out comprehensive police function and duties.

The so-called duplication of scarce resources is not true because the marine police is required by the national police force itself to carry out comprehensive policing in terms of apprehending criminals, crime prevention and anti-terrorist activities. Therefore, marine police are a vital component of the Royal Malaysian Police Force.

On the allegations is that there have been links with illegal parties. This is a mere allegation. If this is true, why don’t the agencies carry out full investigation and submit a report to the prime minister for further action?

The problem is with smugglers waiting outside territorial waters. This is where MMEA should be at all times, guarding the waters and not loitering at the coastal water.

The coastal water should be left to the police to carry out policing and crime prevention.

MMEA should protect fishermen and the thousands of big fishing boats operating in an area beyond 5nm, that is, B class licence and above.

The 5nm areas are where the traditional fishermen operate. Therefore, in order to protect the bigger vessel from being harassed by pirates and also neighbouring maritime agencies, MMEA should spend their time in an area beyond 5nm to safeguard fishermen.

It is evident that areas between 5nm and 200nm are not fully protected by MMEA because MMEA’s assets seem to be fond of the coastal and harbour areas.

This has resulted in bigger fishing boats (B and C classes) not being given proper protection.

Many of these fishing boats have been arrested and detained for ransom by neighbouring maritime agencies.

Details of these incidents can be obtained from the fishing associations in Hutan Melintang, Teluk Intan, Kuala Selangor, Kuala Endau, Kuala Pahang and more.

The incidents of local fishermen threatened by Vietnamese fishermen in 30nm off Pahang waters in September 2013 also indicate that the MMEA should operate in the offshore waters.

The low number of piracy cases reported in Malaysian waters is a proof that MMEA should operate in an area beyond 5nm because piracy is rampant in that area.

Sea robbery cases in area 5nm and below should be handled by the police, who have greater expertise and are better versed in crime investigation and prevention.

The Lahad Datu incursion and the kidnapping cases of tourists in Sabah have proven MMEA’s failure to safeguard our territorial waters.

After these incidents, MMEA have failed to show a full presence in the coastal area of Sabah.

Worse, the MMEA boat that was deployed in Lahad Datu sank at the jetty because of negligence.

MMEA have misled and fooled the government. MMEA say that they can’t operate effectively because their assets are mostly about 40 years old. Actually, not all the boats are 40 years. Some are only 10 to 20 years old.

Whatever it is, all the boats have undergone repairs and maintenance at least once a year.

Each year, the government spends RM200,000 to RM6 million on each boat. If after spending RM6 million to repair and the boat still can’t move, then the auditor general should investigate what is wrong with MMEA.

Before this, the marine police were deemed not effective because they had fewer men compared with MMEA’s 5,000 personnel.

The marine police have fewer than 2,000 men and given little allocation for repair and maintenance of vessels.

They receive only RM100,000 to RM500,000 to repair a boat compared with up to RM6 million given to MMEA.

There is not duplication of duties by the marine police with MMEA.

The truth is MMEA are duplicating marine police. This is because the marine police have been in existence since 1947 (they are 66 years old compared with MMEA which is only eight years old).

Therefore, in reality MMEA are duplicating the marine police.

By right, the government should not have formed MMEA without in-depth studies. Indeed it is wiser for the government to enhance and beef up the marine police to carry out the entire sea enforcement job instead of establishing MMEA. – January 14, 2014.

* Sea Man reads The Malaysian Insider.

 * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


Posted January 16, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

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