PETALING JAYA - The treacherous waters off Somalia used to be the world's most dangerous marine passageway.
That dubious distinction has moved a lot closer to home, with the waters near Johor and Malacca now surpassing Somalia as the top piracy hotbed, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
It attributed this to the rise in piracy off Indonesia's Tanjung Priok, Dumai, Belawan, Taboneo and Muara Jawa - where the waters have been marked as hot spots.
Although the Straits of Malacca remains safe for international shipping, the Kuala Lumpur-based IMB has warned mariners to take precautions when plying the 960km stretch shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The major concern is the increasing number of attacks in Indonesian waters, which are between 45 minutes and two hours away by sea from Malacca and Johor.
With its thousands of islands and many river mouths covered with mangroves, the coastal region of Indonesia is ideal for pirates to hide and evade capture. Pirates operating in the Indonesian waters are armed with guns, knives and machetes and are known to be violent.
Of the 138 piracy incidents recorded worldwide in the first six months of this year, 48 were in Indonesia, the IMB said in its report.
While global piracy had dropped substantially, down from 439 cases in 2011, the trend in Indonesia, however, was increasing, it said.