Malacca Straits piracy down due to sea-air patrols

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Cases of piracy have dropped significantly since coordinated naval and air patrols were conducted along the Strait of Malacca.

Under the Malacca Straits Sea Patrols (MSSP), participating countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand - conduct coordinated naval and air patrols while facilitating the sharing of information between ships and the Monitoring and Action Agency (MAA).

The countries involved conduct patrols within their own waters and have set up several control points.

Their joint air patrols - the Eyes-in-the-Sky (EiS) initiative - provides coordinated aerial surveillance of the Singapore and Malacca Straits.

In August 2006, Lloyd's Joint War Risk Committee dropped the classification of Malacca Straits as a war-risk area. According to the Interna­tional Chamber of Commerce's Inter­national Maritime Bureau (IMB), the number of pirate attacks in the Malacca Straits dropped from 38 in 2004 to just one in 2011.

The Malacca Straits came off better than the rest of Malaysia, Singapore Straits and Indonesia in staving off attacks from 2009 to 2013. Only Thailand fared better, which had two incidents each in 2009 and 2010 and none since then.

Although the incidents in Malaysia were fewer last year, there were more hostages taken (59) compared with Indonesia (34) and Singapore Straits (5).

According to Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director-ge­­neral Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, they had stepped up patrols along the Straits of Malacca.

Although the number of attacks there has dropped substantially, the IMB in its 2013 annual report advised ships to "continue maintaining strict anti-piracy/robbery watches".

From January to April 22, Indonesia has experienced 24 attacks, with Singapore Straits suffering five and Malaysia none until the incident on Tuesday.