ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Piracy in Asean watersBy David Swartzemtruber
Although intellectual piracy frequently gets a lot of media attention, the traditional piracy on the high seas is also currently in vogue and one of the prime waterways historically for this is the Straits of Malacca.
The straits lie between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Piracy has a long track record in the straits going back at least 700 years. One reason is that the geography of the region makes the straits a prime target as well as its lucrative commercial traffic. In 2004, for example, the region accounted for 40 percent of piracy worldwide To keep a lid on the piracy, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore carry out coordinated patrols. In June The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) sent an alert to ships traversing the area, warning of a heightened piracy risk following the hijacking of three tugboats and a barge this year.
This year, The IMB said the waterway, which is wedged between has seen a surge in reported attacks by armed pirates, with at least 41 incidents since January. A database has been established by a group of ship owners. However, insurers still consider the straits a high-risk area.
Today six Indonesians attempting to rob a ship in the Strait of Malacca were apprehended by a Malaysian patrol. The suspects were spotted by Malaysian patrols early Sunday morning as they tried to board a merchant vessel off southern Johor state near Singapore, Maritime Enforcement Agency chief Admiral Zulkifli Abu Bakar said.
He said the pirates appeared to have come from the nearby Indonesian island of Batam and had gathered in the area intending to rob three ships.
The pirates realized they were spotted and attempted to escape on their boat but a Malaysian patrol vessel pursued them, fired several warning shots before intercepting the ship in Malaysian waters.
A reminder that modern day pirates are not just on movie screens.
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