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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where have all the pirates of Malacca Strait gone?

Well, either the increased and joint patrols are working, as reported here or the shipping companies have stopped reporting piratical acts (to try to get their insurance rates lowered...
The three Southeast Asian nations launched coordinated air patrols in 2005. Singapore and Indonesia also have a ship surveillance monitoring center that tracks vessels in a sea lane leading into the straits _ which link Asia with Europe and the Middle East.

Mohamad Anwar said Malaysia has planned separate bilateral exercises with both Singapore and Indonesia this year, and praised Jakarta for its efforts to bring down piracy levels.

"They have made a lot of effort," said Mohamad Anwar. "What we are doing now is trying to get them (Indonesia) to commit more in terms of a presence of assets."

Piracy watchdogs International Maritime Bureau said in its 2005 annual report that pirates struck a dozen times in the Malacca Strait in 2005, down from 38 the previous year. The London-headquartered organization singled out increased efforts from the Indonesian Navy for the drop.

Singapore Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Ng Yat Chung acknowledged that the effort by the three countries along the waterway "has had an impact."
But note the warning for the southern end of the Malacca Strait, the "Gelasa Straits" (formerly known as Gaspar Strait).

UPDATE: Malaysia is not happy with the insurance rates as they are now:
Malaysia criticized a leading international shipping insurer Wednesday for keeping the Malacca Strait labeled a war risk area - forcing vessels using the piracy-afflicted route to pay additional insurance charges.

The Britain-based Joint War Committee of the Lloyd's Market Association has had the strait on its list of war risk areas since June 2005, despite the insistence of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore - which lie along the strait - that the waterway has become increasingly safe due to theircoordinated maritime patrols.

"We are disappointed," Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters. "We don't think it is justifiable. It is certainly not backed by facts."

Each year more than 50,000 ships, carrying half the world's oil and a third of its commerce, navigate the strait.

Officials reported 12 pirate attacks in the strait in 2005, down from 38 the previous year. Security experts have also expressed fears that terrorists could target ships in the area.

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