KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The lack of coordination between enforcement departments and agencies, in terms of sharing of information, and insufficient assets are among the reasons why enforcement operations in the Malaysian Maritime Zone (ZMM) have not reached optimum efficiency.
The Auditor-General’s Report 2018 Series 3 stated that apart from damaged assets, the vast ZMM area also made it difficult for security and enforcement activities to be carried out.
“This is why activities like the smuggling of goods, encroachment and smuggling of illegal immigrants and incursions by fishermen are still happening in the ZMM,” said the report.
It added that damage to 34.6 per cent of the ships and boats also affected the efficiency and effectiveness of operations in ZMM, while 11.7 per cent of vessels or boats owned by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Royal Malaysia Police Marine Team and Department of Fisheries (DOF) were also damaged and have not undergone maintenance due to insufficient allocation.
The report further stated that there was no Malaysian Maritime Sea Surveillance System (SWASLA) in the waters off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and east coast of Sabah to monitor any encroachment and smuggling activities in the zone.
It also said that there was no centralised collection and coordination of information among all the departments and agencies for enforcement purposes.
The report also revealed that Chinese Coast Guard vessels were detected to have encroached into the country’s waters 89 times from 2016 to 2019 and their presence had been identified to be related to claims over the South China Sea, especially the Beting Patinggi Ali area (BPA).
“Five diplomatic protest notes have been issued to China for trespassing into Malaysian waters following 29 reports lodged by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) from 2018 to 2019,” the report added.
Thus, the report stated that the intrusion by China, especially in the BPA, was a serious threat to the sovereignty and security of ZMM.
“Although the RMN has shown, through its presence in the area, that it will protect the sovereignty of the waters off BPA, it is not an enforcement agency.
“Accordingly, the MMEA should be at the BPA area at all times to carry out enforcement and give the Malaysian government an advantage should there be any claims by China at the international level,” the report suggested. — Bernama