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Monday, September 18, 2006

Malaysia: Everybody can help make the Strait of Malacca safer

Reported here:
Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have welcomed state users and stakeholders of the Melaka Straits to participate to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in the international waterway, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday.

The Deputy Prime Minister said state users and stakeholders could contribute in ensuring the straits' safety by collaborating and sharing resources with the three littoral states.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have taken steps to ensure state users' security in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

"The security efforts have indicated positive results," he told reporters after opening the Straits of Melaka and Singapore three-day meeting themed "Enhancing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection".

The three countries have beefed up security precautions to protect the straits from piracy and possible terrorist attacks as it is regarded as the maritime corridor for international merchant ships.

For the past two years littoral states have been cooperating by carrying out coordinated patrols and taking part in the "eyes in the sky" aerial surveillance programme.

Najib said piracies reported in the straits had dwindled from 38 cases in 2004 to 18 last year and only three cases in the first half of this year.
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Najib said at the moment there was no intelligence report indicating any imminent terrorist attack.

IMO secretary-general Efthimos E. Mitropoulos, in his keynote address, said littoral states should not be complacent on security.

Later at a joint press conference with Najib, Mitropoulos said the IMO and the littoral states were cooperating to develop a system called Maritime Electronic Highway.

"It is a state-of-the-art navigation and communication system to ensure the straits' safety," he added.

The system, costing US$6.86 million, will automatically identify any ship entering the straits and improve navigation maritime system.

It will also be equipped with long-range tracking system..
Constant improvement, that's the key...

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