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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

New Malaysia maritime agency for Malacca Straits

In a step in the right direction, Malaysia has formed the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, or MMEA. Patrols start in June:
Malaysia has formed a new maritime agency that will begin patrolling the Malacca Straits in June to curb rising piracy and the threat of terrorism, a news report said Wednesday.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, or MMEA, will start monitoring the straits and other territorial waters with six patrol boats and crew drawn from the Malaysian navy, the New Straits Times quoted navy chief, Adm. Mohamad Anwar Mohamad Nor, as saying.

He said the navy and other agencies would assist the new agency until it gets its own helicopters and speedboats. The agency would need at least 39 vessels to patrol Malaysia's coastline, the report said.

"We reckon it will take up to five years for MMEA to be effective on its own," Anwar was cited as saying. "But its presence is important to maintain the country's status as a safe maritime trading nation, free of threats from pirates and terrorists."

Anwar also said the agency would strengthen maritime security to deter smuggling, human trafficking, illegal fishing and environmental pollution. The agency will also carry out search and rescue missions, he said.

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