Summit aims to bust piracy 

The USS Abraham Lincoln in the well-used Strait of Malacca. Source: Wikimedia

Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to strengthen coordination to address problems like piracy in the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait, reported the Indonesian Antara news agency.

“The three countries are very serious in view of many passing ships there,” Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority CEO Andrew Tan told the media.

Tan said Singapore had worked to conduct the best security practices. The Lion City felt it necessary to improve navigational safety in the vital trading routes to deal with piracy and oil leakage.

Safety in the Malacca Strait benefited everyone, he added.

Yogyakarta on Java is hosting the 41st Tripartite Technical Experts Group and the ninth Cooperation Forum to discuss shipping routes in the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait.

Secretary general of the Indonesian Transport Ministry Sugihardjo said President Joko Widodo wanted to turn Indonesia into a global maritime axis to bolster Indonesia’s identity as a maritime state.

“The Malacca Strait is one of the strategic and vital shipping routes to link shipping lanes to various countries in the world,” the minister said.

“Until now the Malacca and Singapore Straits have been safe for domestic as well as foreign vessels,” said the head of the Indonesian delegation Raymond Sianturi.

Representatives from 10 other countries, including Australia and China, have also been invited to the meeting.

Sianturi said an initiative, the Marine Electronic Highway programme, in cooperation with various ministries, aimed to monitor sea pollution.

Sianturi said the Malacca Strait had 70,000 to 80,000 ships pass through each year, although others were counted.

Trilateral efforts to tackle piracy and robberies in the waters saw the number of incidents fall in the first six months of 2016, the conference heard.

The countries pumped more resources into patrols and had targeted prime suspects and issued them with heavy warnings, meaning only one incident was reported in the first half of the year, the conference was told.

This was after a spike in piracy in 2015 with 104 incidents, up from 48 in 2014, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.

The Malaysian and Indonesian authorities had improved efforts to increase security, said Dr Collin Koh of S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.