Tuesday, 2 February 2016

MMEA ups security with armed forces on vessels

Pic: The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has upped the ante in the battle against any future hijackings at sea by placing armed personnel on vessels. 

Its director-general, Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, said the placement of armed officers on vessels is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the ships could be a “possible target” for hijackers.

“We place armed officers from time to time, when there is a need, not all the time. We always look at the trend.

“For instance, if the current trend of hijacking is targeted at tankers carrying diesel and petrol, then yes. We only place men on vessels that have a possibility of being hijacked by pirates, not all vessels,” he told theSun. 

Ahmad Puzi said MMEA had embarked on the effort since local oil tanker MT Orkim Harmony was hijacked by eight Indonesian pirates in the South China Sea in June last year. 

He said the decision to place armed personnel on vessels was also in agreement with the National Security Council (MKN), and not merely a decision of their own. 

However, for security reasons, he declined to disclose the number of personnel that they place on each vessel.

“The number will be based on the suitability,” he said.

Malaysia recently grabbed international headlines when its oil tanker MT Orkim Harmony was hijacked by pirates while heading to Kuantan Port, Pahang.

The tanker, which was laden with 6,000 metric tonnes of petrol worth RM21 million, was reported missing at 8.57pm on June 11 while on its way from Malacca.

The vessel, carrying 22 crew on board, comprising 16 Malaysians, five Indonesians and a Myanmar national, was only freed and recovered a week later on June 19 after the pirates fled in the ship's rescue boat. (The Sun Daily)

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