Security firms ferrying arms illegally in M’sian waters

Maritime security contractors are ferrying weapons and ammunition on board foreign vessels in Malaysian waters without prior approval, reported Berita Harian.

Although the weapons are used for security when the vessels are in international waters, carrying them in Malaysian waters without prior approval is illegal.

The Malaysian Harbour Pilot Association (MHAPA) detected the illegal practice in Port Klang on Sunday evening.

Radio communications between a harbour pilot and a Panama-registered vessel clearly showed that the ship was transferring weapons and ammunition to other vessels before coming in to dock.

The pilot, who was tasked with guiding the vessel to the port, informed the ship to be at the pilot's station (location) in 10 minutes.

But the vessel responded twice, that 10 minutes was impossible, because they were unloading arms and ammunition.

The vessel's captain, realising his slip of the tongue, changed the topic when asked what he was doing for the third time, before reiterating he could not be at the pilot's station in 10 minutes.

MHAPA president Capt Mahadhir Che Ismail said the law required vessels to get approval and declare if they were carrying armed security personnel 14 days before arrival.

"The weapons are for the armed guards of the vessel but this (unloading and illegal storing of weapons on another ship) is wrong," he said

Mahadhir said the incident raised the question of why foreign maritime security companies were flouting Malaysian laws.

He pointed out that Singapore was very strict and firearms were not allowed even for security reasons.