Malacca Straits Patrol marks 10th anniversary

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21 Apr 2016 | MILESTONES
Melayu 华文

Malacca Straits Patrol marks 10th anniversary

STORY // Benita Teo
PHOTO // Chai Sian Liang
English 华文

The threat of piracy and sea robbery on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, while suppressible, cannot be fully eradicated.

Thus, it is important for the Malacca Straits Patrol's (MSP's) member states -- namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand -- to continue working hand-in-hand to keep regional sea lanes safe.

Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Major-General (MG) Perry Lim said this at the MSP 10th Anniversary Commemorative Events, held on 21 Apr at the Changi Command and Control Centre in Changi Naval Base.

"The MSP's continued effectiveness hinges on the close cooperation between our Navies," said MG Lim.

"Let us continue to innovate and strengthen our mutual cooperation, and continue to ensure that the MSP arrangement stays relevant and effective into the future."

In his speech, MG Lim also noted that the MSP represented the commitment and cooperative efforts of the participating countries to fight against a common enemy. He said: "The MSP has proved to be a good model of practical cooperative action We (the four MSP states) have shown that we can still work together to effectively tackle issues of common interest such as piracy and sea robbery."

A decade ago, on 21 Apr 2006, the MSP Terms of Reference and Standard Operating Procedures was signed by participating nations Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Thailand joined as the fourth member two years later on 18 Sep 2008.

The MSP is a set of cooperative measures undertaken by the four member countries to carry out coordinated patrols and information-sharing to keep the two straits safe. It comprises three components: the Malacca Straits Sea Patrol, the "Eyes-in-the-Sky" Combined Maritime Air Patrols and the Intelligence Exchange Group. In addition, the Republic of Singapore Navy's Information Fusion Centre (IFC) maintains the MSP Information System, an information-sharing portal.

MG Lim was joined by Indonesia's Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ade Supandi, Singapore' Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han, Thailand's Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy Admiral Na Areenich, and Malaysia's Deputy Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Dato' Anuwi bin Hassan.

As part of the commemorative events, they jointly unveiled the new MSP logo. They also witnessed the fourth MSP Information Sharing Exercise which was conducted at the IFC from 19 to 21 Apr. These exercises, held every 16 months, incorporate real-time updates from patrol ships and maritime patrol aircraft, in order to reinforce the information-sharing linkages among the countries.

The exercises are planned by the Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand International Liaison Officers (ILOs) in IFC, together with the IFC Head of Operations and Exercise, Major Xing Yongzhi.

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Muhammad Hafiz bin Othman, an ILO from the Royal Malaysian Navy, said: "The MSP initiative is unique because it reflects the commitment and close cooperation among the littoral states. This kind of multilateral cooperation is essential in combating trans-border crime that can threaten the overall security of the Straits."

Over the last 10 years, the MSP initiative has met with success. Lloyd's Joint War Risk Committee dropped the classification of the Malacca Strait as a war-risk zone in 2006 after a year, and the number of successful piracy and sea robbery incidents was brought down to zero at the end of 2015.