SHAH ALAM: New Coast Guard Chief. Admiral Maritime Zulkifli Abu Bakar, 57, was appointed as the fourth director-general of the APMM or Malaysia Coast Guard, on June 1, 2017. He replaced Admiral Maritime Ahmad Puzi Kahar who retired on May 27, 2017.
The hand-over ceremony for the post was held on June 5 between Zulkifli and Puzi. Zulkifli, who was the deputy director-general (operations) of APMM, joined the agency as an enforcement officer on Nov 1. 2005. The lawyer by training was formerly with the RMN.
Zulkifli inherited a much more stable agency compared to Puzi, whose two year term, was highlighted with the procurement of the NGPC and the return to full operations of its air wing.
APMM is also set to embark on the construction of three new OPVs, the first expected later this year.
KM Arau, the second ex-Japan Coast Guard vessel transferred to APMM arrive in Kota Kinabalu today where she will be based. The first ship, KM Pekan is based in Kuantan.
Despite this developments, APMM remained short of vessels to effectively perform its duties. Most of its patrol boats are simply too small for EEZ duties especially for operations in the South China Sea.
KM Pekan and KM Arau therefore are a welcome addition though at least four more similar sized vessels are needed. As money is tight, perhaps the government should look at buying redundant oil and gas supply vessels to speed up the recapitalisation of the APMM.
Perhaps we should even convert redundant container freighter similar to Bunga Mas Lima and Bunga Mas Enam and turned them into patrol vessels complete with a hangar for an embarked helicopter and UAVs while at the same time capable of carrying up to four interceptors for ship boarding duties.
These modified container ships could be armed with a 30mm gun and a containerised mortar system like the Nemo from Patria.
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