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Monday, August 29, 2005

Malaysia seeks removal of Malacca Strait from security threat list

Not surprisingly, Malaysia says "no terror" in Malacca Strait and "piracy is under control" as reported here.
Malaysia urged an international insurance body to remove the Malacca Strait from a list of waterways deemed dangerous, saying ships are safe from terror attacks and piracy is contained.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are working closely to ensure security in the 960-km long passage, used by 50,000 ships a year that carry one-third of world trade, Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy told Agence France-Presse.

'There is no threat of terror in the Malacca Strait,' he said. 'And the threat of piracy is contained. The waterway is safe for ships.'

Chan urged insurance companies not to impose security premiums on vessels plying the busy route, saying: 'I don't think it is fair to impose additional premiums. I hope the Malacca Strait is withdrawn from the list.'

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has listed the strait, and the waters around Indonesia, as among the world's worst for piracy, and some regional governments believe ships could be targeted by terrorists.

Last year the Malacca Strait recorded 38 pirate attacks, second only to Indonesian waters, which saw 94 attacks, the IMB said.
It must be noted that most of the attacks involve local shipping and not international hulls. On the other hand...
(Map: Malaysia -left target is Strait of Malacca, right target is dive area of Borneo Divers)

Another group asserting that piracy is not a problem - the diving industry in Borneo as reported here by the Cyber Diver News Network:
Soon after Muslim rebels attacked Sipadan Island and took 21 dive tourists and resort staff hostage, Clement Lee and Steve Fish of Borneo Divers launched a business-as-usual campaign designed to lure divers back to Sipadan.

The media-bashing campaign, which remained on the internet until the second attack on Pandanan dive resort near Sipadan, exemplifies a growing tendency in the diving industry to deliberately conceal problems that pose a threat to the safety and well-being of dive travelers.

Standard operating procedure is to lash out at the media and dismiss news reports as inaccurate and exaggerated. While press reports are rarely if ever 100% accurate, we all know they get much closer to the truth than the travel industry, which aims to filter out any and all disagreeable elements that detract from the "paradise" theme.
The truth is out there...somewhere.

UPDATE: Borneo DIvers site

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