Malaysian Maritime Zone Enforcement Under the Spotlight

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) operates near West Capella, May 12. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Brenton Poyser)

SHAH ALAM: Malaysian Maritime Zone enforcement under the spotlight. The Auditor General Report on the activities of ministries and agencies for 2018 was released today. One of the highlights of the report is the monitoring and enforcement activities of the Malaysian Maritime Zone (MMZ). The report stated that the monitoring and enforcement activities of the MMZ is under the purview of the nine agencies starting with the National Security Agency (MKN), RMN, MMEA, Marine Police and the departments of immigration, customs, marine, maritime affairs and fisheries.

The audit found that the monitoring and enforcement activities were not up to the optimum levels due to the lack of coordination between agencies, breakdown of assets and the sheer size of the MMZ. The MMZ include waters up to the Exclusive EconomiC Zone (EEZ). These led to smuggling of goods, illegal immigrants and incursion of ships from foreign countries. The audit summary describes it as thus:

KD Keris arriving at the Sepanggar naval base jetty for the welcoming ceremony

-Rundingan pembatasan sempadan maritimantara Malaysia dengan Indonesia dan Malaysia dengan Singapura masih diteruskan termasuklah penyelesaian ke atas isu-isu sempadan maritim yang berkaitan.
Sebanyak 89 kali kapal daripada agensi penguatkuasaan/ketenteraan China menceroboh di perairan Sarawak dan perairan barat Sabah dari tahun 2016 hingga 2019.
-Kerosakan sebanyak 34.6% kapal/bot menjejaskan kecekapan dan keberkesanan operasi di ZMM. Sebanyak 11.7% kapal/bot yang dimiliki oleh APMM, PPM PDRM dan DOF rosak dan tidak dibuat penyenggaraan kerana kekurangan peruntukan penyenggaraan.
-Sistem Pengawasan Laut Malaysia (SWASLA) tiada di perairan pantai timur Semenanjung Malaysia, Sarawak dan pantai timur Sabah bagi mengawasi sebarang aktiviti pencerobohan dan penyeludupan di ZMM berkenaan.
-Sebanyak 64.3% Remote Sensor Sites (RSS) daripada komponen sistem SWASLA mempunyai peralatan yang rosak. Selain itu, 44.4% RSS mempunyai peralatan tidak boleh diganti semula (obsolete) kerana alat ganti tiada lagi di pasaran. – Terdapat RSS yang dimiliki APMM mempunyai sudut buta (blind arc) bagi radar pengesanan dan kamera penglihatan.
-Maklumat daripada sistem pengawasan digunakan secara individu oleh APMM, JLM dan DOF. Ketiadaan satu (1)pengumpulan dan penyelarasan maklumat secara berpusat untuk mengkoordinasikan operasi penguatkuasaan antara jabatan/agensi.

AMP Corporation mobile radars in service with MMEA. The company also provide maintenance for MMEA coastal radars.

The audit report further states:

89 kali pencerobohan kapal daripada agensi penguatkuasaan/ketenteraan China mendapati sebanyak 72 kali melibatkan kapal daripada China Coast Guard (CCG) dan sebanyak 17 kali daripada People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Semakan Audit mendapati tujuan kehadiran CCG dan PLAN adalah bagi menunjukkan kehadiran China berhubung tuntutan Laut China Selatan khususnya kawasan Beting Patinggi Ali (BPA). Pencerobohan melibatkan kapal daripada CCG telah meningkat sebanyak lima (5) kali (26.3%) pada tahun 2017 dan menurun sebanyaktujuh (7) kali (29.2%) pada tahun 2018 manakala tahun 2019 menurun sebanyak lima (5) kali (29.4%).
Walaupun terdapat penurunan kehadiran daripada CCG pada tahun 2018 tetapi China telah mula menempatkan PLAN di ZMM yang mana bermula pada tahun 2017 sebanyak satu (1) kali,sebanyak sembilan (9) kali pada tahun 2018 dan sebanyak tujuh (7) kali pada tahun 2019. Pihak TLDM telah mengambil tindakan mengusir keluar kapal berkenaan dan mengemukakan maklumat pencerobohan kepada Kementerian Luar Negeri (KLN) untuk membuat bantahan diplomatik namun kapal dari China masih dikesan menceroboh ZMM. v

Semakan Audit mendapati JHEM, KLN berdasarkan peruntukan Jadual Kesembilan, [Perkara 74,77] Senarai Perundangan, Senarai I – Senarai Persekutuan, 1 (Hal Ehwal Luar Negeri) telah mengambil tindakan mengeluarkan nota bantahan diplomatik kepada China. Nota bantahan diplomatik dikeluarkan kepada China kerana melanggar kawasan kedaulatan ZMM. Bantahan pertama dikeluarkan pada tahun 2017 sebagai respon kepada nota bantahan diplomatik daripada China

KD Lekiu launching a Sea Wolf SAM in an exercise in 2014. TLDM picture.

It further stated:

Pada pendapat Audit, isu pencerobohan China di BPA, Laut China Selatan merupakan perkara serius terhadap kedaulatan dan keselamatan ZMM. Sungguhpun TLDM dapat menunjukkan keberadaannya bagi melindungi kedaulatan di perairan BPA tetapi peranannya bukan sebagai agensi yang melaksanakan penguatkuasaan. Sewajarnya APMM berada di BPA setiap masa bagi melaksanakan penguatkuasaan dan memberi kelebihan kepada Kerajaan Malaysia sekiranya terdapat sebarang tuntutan oleh China di peringkat antarabangsa. Sungguhpun KLN telah mengambil tindakan dengan mengeluarkan nota bantahan diplomatik dari semasa ke semasa bagi mempertahankan kedaulatan ZMM, namun bagi tahun 2018 dan 2019 hanya lima (5) nota bantahan dikeluarkan

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) conducts routine operations near the Panamanian flagged drillship, West Capella, May 12. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Brenton Poyser)

The report concluded:

8.1. MKN hendaklah mengkaji semula dasar dan strategi berkaitan pengawalan dan penguatkuasaan sempadan negara dengan mengkoordinasi secara berkesan jabatan/agensi berkaitan dari segi sumber manusia, infrastruktur dan logistik, aset dan perkongsian maklumat intelligence;
8.2. MKN perlu mengkaji semula keperluan untuk mewujudkan satu sistem pengumpulan dan penyelarasan maklumat secara berpusat dan pelbagai maklumat dapat dimanfaatkan oleh jabatan/agensi untuk melaksanakan penguatkuasaan di ZMM mengikut bidang kuasa masing-masing;
8.3. MKN, KDN dan Kementerian Pertahanan perlu mengkaji keperluan penggunaan teknologi seperti dron bagi mengawal keselamatan ZMM. Selain itu, penggunaan teknologi remote sensing (data satelit) dari Agensi Angkasa Malaysia (MYSA) juga dapat membantu jabatan/agensi pelaksana dalam pengurusan keselamatan ZMM;
8. 4. KDN dan APMM perlu mengkaji semula keperluan untuk mewujudkan SWASLA di perairan pantai timur Semenanjung Malaysia, Sarawak dan pantai timur Sabah. Selain itu, peralatan SWASLA sedia ada yang telah rosak perlu dibuat penyenggaraan danmengkaji penggantian terhadap peralatan yang obsolete diganti semula bagi memastikan SWASLA berkenaan dapat berfungsi secara optimum;
ort
8. 6. KDN dan APMM perlu mengkaji dan mengambil tindakan sewajarnya terhadap sudut buta (blind arc) yang dikenal pasti bagi mengelakkan berlakunya sebarang pencerobohan dan penyeludupan;
8. 7. KDN, Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Makanan dan agensi pusat perlu mengkaji semula keperluan peruntukan bagi kapal/bot yang tidak dibuat penyenggaraan yang dimiliki oleh APMM, PPM PDRM dan DOF supaya ianya boleh digunakan untuk melaksanakan aktiviti kawalan keselamatan dan penguatkuasaan di ZMM secara optimum berdasarkan kapal/bot yang dimiliki;
dan8.8. KDN, JKDM dan JLM perlu mengkaji semula mekanisme penguatkuasaan terhadap kapal layar bagi mengelakkan risiko seperti ketirisan hasil cukai barangan yang tidak dibayar, penyeludupan barangan terlarang dan penyeludupan PATI semasa ketibaan di pelabuhan.

KM Pekan in Japan after completing her trials. MMEA

Basically the report says that the Malaysian security and defence sectors need constant reinvesment and reinvigoration to ensure the country’s sovereignty and security are protected. And its clear that the investment in both sectors are as important as other sectors.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

22 Comments

  1. Now there is a clear fact and figures in black and white on the seriousness of our state of maritime affairs.

    Now the ball is in the politician hands to act on this information. What we can clearly see is that right now we cannot afford to reduce our budgetary commitments to our maritime defence.

  2. with post covid recovery and our politician busy buying power, would there be money or even political will to improve whats been called in the audit. i highly doubt that, but will be happy if will be wrong tho.

  3. From the data it is clear that 80.8% of the Chinese incursions in our ZMM is by the Chinese Coast Guard.

    The reason why most of our ships that is enforcing our maritime security and engaging the Chinese Coat Guard ships should be white painted ships from MMEA. The reason why the Kedah class, even with the supposed high operating costs, must be operated by MMEA.

  4. “monitoring and enforcement activities were not up to the optimum levels due to the lack of coordination between agencies”

    This is a long standing problem (faced not only by us) and one that can only be solved if a genuine effort is made.

    Even within ESSCOM cooperation between the MAF and police was not as smooth as it should have been – both guarding their own turf, having different ways of doing things and competing for funding.

    With regards to the MAF improvements have been made but the 3 services still have a long way to go to achieve “jointness” – each competing for funding and having different ways of doing things – in service parochialism and rivalry still hampering things.

    Which is why as we mature as a UAS operator; there should be a “UAS Comnand” to operate the MALEs. This is needed to ensure the capability is not hogged by any service and that intel/info gets to those who need it with no bureaucratic hassles. MPAs should also have mixed RMAF/RMN crews.

    “Joint HQs” are great but they must be manned by the right people and there must be a genuine effort to achieve “jointness”. It’s not only the hardware and funding which matters but also how we do and manage things: something even more essential given scarce resources.

  5. …. – “ Chinese incursions in our ZMM is by the Chinese Coast Guard.””

    For years that has been the case – nothing new. By the Coast Guard and the Maritime Agency.
    Incursions by PLAN ships are a very rare occurrence – as mentioned in previous discussions.

  6. It’s not usual for Malaysia to disclose all these deficiency to public. Anyway I personally think it is good that this is put in the spotlight so that the powers that be would have to look into the issues seriously with a political will to correct the situation and not just lip service.

  7. This is the annual revenue that we lost from illegal fishing. RM 6 billion.

    http://www.bernama.com/en/news.php?id=1763778

    So is it worthwhile saving a few hundred million ringgit to lose six billion ringgit?

    On the SWASLA.

    There is 2 main issues on this, the hardware, and the people we entrusted to secure our shores.

    Most of the SWASLA system was donated by japan and usa. the issue with donated systems is that the maintenance of it is probably not taken into account.

    Another issue is the people that uses the system. How do we know that the breakdowns are not caused by sabotage? Traitors up to the highest levels is what makes the problem of human trafficking in wang kelian and desaru, rampant cigarette smuggling by small boats in selat melaka, and diesel and lpg smuggling still a big problem for us.

  8. @ azlan

    ” For years that has been the case – nothing new ”

    Of course it is not new. I am stating that fact to reiterate the need for most of our response to this to be in the shape of our MMEA, not TLDM.

  9. IMO one of the most important conclusions of the audit

    ” Sungguhpun TLDM dapat menunjukkan keberadaannya bagi melindungi kedaulatan di perairan BPA tetapi peranannya bukan sebagai agensi yang melaksanakan penguatkuasaan. Sewajarnya APMM berada di BPA setiap masa bagi melaksanakan penguatkuasaan dan memberi kelebihan kepada Kerajaan Malaysia sekiranya terdapat sebarang tuntutan oleh China di peringkat antarabangsa ”

    … memberi kelebihan kepada Kerajaan Malaysia sekiranya terdapat sebarang tuntutan oleh China di peringkat antarabangsa… The audit clearly understood that if there is any claims diplomatically, we will have an upper hand if our activities is undertaken by MMEA and not TLDM.

    Reply
    The line about China might be able to claim via international is ignorant of the ruling gained by the Philippines. Although its not binding to Malaysia it should be seen as negating any claims by China on SCS

  10. As usual, neither side will look into the Auditor report and do something about it. Now with Governments being flip and flopped, neither side could say they weren’t responsible in this matter so nobody will touch this keg of gunpowder in case it explodes in their faces.

  11. @ marhalim

    It is not ignorant of the rules. The Philippines arbitration is one thing, but any fracas happening between Malaysia and China in the EEZ, if we use TLDM against Chinese coast guard, legally and diplomatically we will be in a disadvantaged position. That is what the statement means. Basically we need to counter the Chinese Coast Guard with our own MMEA, to make us legally and diplomatically correct. Why IMO the Kedah Class should be painted white and operated by MMEA.

    Another thing, the audit mentioned that the EEZ boundary is the international malaysian boundary, which is wrong and is what USA considers as excessive territorial claims. The international boundary is actually at the 12NM line. All of our EEZ is actually international waters, which all ships, even Chinese Coast Guard ships have the right of innocent passage. What is wrong is when they loiter in our EEZ to disturb our economic activities, including protecting chinese fishing vessels illegally fishing in our EEZ.

  12. @ azlan

    ” For years that has been the case – nothing new. By the Coast Guard and the Maritime Agency ”

    Of course it is nothing new. What I am implying is that this is the main reason legally and diplomatically the main agency to do maritime enforcement of our EEZ should be the MMEA.

  13. Thats wht. Take this opportunity to purchase extra ships likw ocean going tugs n either cargo ships or oil tankers to convert into MMEA ships to payrol ourvseas. This issue needs a quuck solution. The RMN did that during the peak of the Vietnamese refugee problem

  14. …. – “Of course it is nothing new””

    My post was in reference to you saying – “it is clear that 80.8% of the Chinese incursions in our ZMM is by the Chinese Coast Guard”

    It has long been “clear”; as you acknowledged with “of course”.

    …. – “the main agency to do maritime enforcement of our EEZ should be the MMEA.””

    This something we’ve discussed/mentioned previously and we both agree that the MMEA should be the lead agency in the area (I’ve remarked on this in other posts) but as it stands; the harsh reality is until more funding is allocated for the MMEA the RMN has to continue playing a role there; up front so to speak.

    The fact that the MMEA should be the lead agency is something all of us here happen to agree on …
    As far as I’m aware nobody is disputing this.

  15. ‘Another thing, the audit mentioned that the EEZ boundary is the international malaysian boundary, which is wrong and is what USA considers as excessive territorial claims’ – this is what the US like to tell the world but the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is quite clear that the maritime boundary of any country ends at the EEZ not the territorial waters. The US is not a signatory of UNCLOS and has been using this argument which is wrong and shows a lack of respect for other country’s boundaries. The only concession UNCLOS made is for naval vessels to operate in their natural mode

  16. @ MOHD NIZAM basiron

    please reread the UNCLOS.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7d/Zonmar-en.svg/687px-Zonmar-en.svg.png

    There is a reason why cruise ships can open casinos after 12nm from shore, because it is no longer in malaysian territory so malaysian law is no longer applicable. After 12nm it is international waters, not malaysian, or even Chinese territory. EEZ is just that, a place where economic activities (fishing, oil and gas, etc.) is exclusive to the coastal nation, but it is not the territory of the coastal nation.

  17. still what china is doing is wrong in the eyes of international law.

    first they are claiming our EEZ as their territory, which has no standing whatsoever under UNCLOS.

    second they are interfering with our economic activities in our EEZ, which should be exclusive only to malaysia under UNCLOS.

    third is that they are loitering in the area, which cannot be considered as innocent passage or freedom of navigation.

  18. the MMEA may need to maintain a constant presence in that area, we don’t have much of a choice it seems.

    Despite the misgivings of some, the formation of SCG maybe justified in view of the current situation in SCS and the state of our of forces. At least the boats are on track to completion; more Damen OPVs please.

  19. ASM – “Despite the misgivings of some, the formation of SCG maybe justified””

    Maybe but if the government could adequately fund the MMEA; there would be no need for a SCG.

    It also remains to be seen how in the coming years the SCG will be able to take some strain off the MMEA and whether steady financial investments will be made by the state government to enable the SCG to what it’s supposed to do.

    Whichever ever we look at it we are merely raising another agency – to add to the list – when what we should be doing is improving what we currently have. Another agency means more bureaucracy and another one whose ops need to be coordinated with what we currently have; namely the MAF, MMEA, police and others.

  20. ” Maybe but if the government could adequately fund the MMEA; there would be no need for a SCG. ”

    True, as discussed elsewhere before I believed the decision to create such an agency was probably the last choice. I am inclined to think that the state gov would’ve preferred to spend more on infrastructure projects.

    Perhaps when the MMEA is fully equipped the SCG could be disbanded and absorbed into the MMEA….

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