LABUAN, Feb 18 — The four ships found anchored near the Asian Supply Base jetty here are not “ghost” ships but are actually awaiting repairs.
The fishing trawlers — Yue Yuan Yu 219, Yue Yuan Yu 220, Zhong Yue 22 and Zhong Yue 23 have been in Malaysian waters since 2015.
An online news report of national daily yesterday (Feb 17) had queried the presence of the ships and whether their crew made up of Chinese nationals could have slipped into Malaysia to escape the Covid-19 scare.
The report was widely shared on social media platforms, thus creating unnecessary fears among Labuan folks.
Following the report, National Security Council (MKN) Labuan director Nurzalizah Kartika Abdullah told Bernama there was nothing to worry about the ships, as the local security authorities had taken measures on the ships and their crews based on standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“There should be no panic, as the ships we understand have been in Malaysian waters since the last four years, and in around Labuan waters since May 2019. The crews have not returned to their country since then,” she said.
Meanwhile, Labuan Health Department director Dr Ismuni Bohari confirmed that the Chinese nationals mentioned in the report had been thoroughly checked and found to be ‘negative’ for Covid-19 infection.
Last Friday, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Labuan detained the ships and arrested the two Chinese nationals, both aged 55, for breaching local laws by mooring in Malaysian waters without permission from the director of the Marine Department of Malaysia.
MMEA Labuan director Commander Nor Bakari Abu Bakar said the four vessels were being guarded by the duo.
“We are still conducting investigations under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance, we have yet to obtain a letter from the Marine Department of Malaysia Labuan on the status of the four ships,” he said, adding that their passports, which were still valid, were being held by the agency for further checks.
Bernama understands the ships’agent had written to the authorities that they needed to undergo dry dock repairs at Labuan Shipyard Engineering (LSE). — Bernama