Regional piracy not as dire

Regional piracy not as dire

Late last month, robbers targeted a tanker near the Horsburgh Lighthouse, east of Singapore.

Around 4am, five men boarded the China-bound ship and tied up three crew members before getting away with their personal belongings.

This was not the only such case recently. There have been at least eight attacks on ships in waters around Singapore this year.

According to the live piracy reporting map from the International Maritime Bureau based in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, there were at least two dozen incidents reported in the waters around Singapore and Batam from January to October.

But a regional piracy-prevention group says the situation might not be that bad.

In its report, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) reflected only eight incidents in the same area during the same period.

Of these, only the attack near Horsburgh Lighthouse is classified as being "moderately significant", while the rest are petty thefts where some of the ship's cargo or spare parts were stolen.

ReCAAP said that even cases like the attack near the lighthouse cannot be considered as piracy.

Responding to queries from The New Paper, ReCAAP's deputy director Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Nicholas Teo said most of these attacks are opportunistic in nature, like vehicle break-ins on land.

Most of these robbers are non-confrontational and usually flee when spotted by the ship's crew. They target loose or unsecured items such as ropes, machine parts and even personal belongings.

Boat operators whom TNP spoke to said they have hardly encountered such incidents, which usually happen under the cover of darkness.

A boatman with 30 years of experience ferrying supplies to ships passing through Singapore waters said most attacks occur in waters closer to Batam.

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