SHAH ALAM: Sarawak Coast Guard on the rise. It appears that the Sarawak Coast Guard (SCG) proposed just late last year is set to be stood up soon. With an initial outlay of RM90 million, the SCG will have three patrol boats and 50 personnel for its launch. Bernama reported on June 22 that Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as saying the recruitment of personnel and procurement of the patrol boats are under way.
He said the SCG, which was mooted in October last year, is to address various issues including encroachment by foreign and local fishing vessels as well as loss of revenue from the state’s vast sea resources. When announcing the setting up of the SCG last year, he said RM90 million had been allocated under the state’s 2020 budget for the procurement of three patrol boats and recruitment of 50 personnel.
He said the formation of the coast guard unit was made possible through amendments to the state’s Fishery Ordinance 2003.
I am guessing the SCG will concentrate on waters around 12 nautical miles (territorial waters) and up to 24 nautical miles (contiguous zone).
Each coastal State may claim a contiguous zone adjacent to and beyond its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 24 nm from its baselines. In its contiguous zone, a coastal State may exercise the control necessary to prevent the infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea, and punish infringement of those laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea. Additionally, in order to control trafficking in archaeological and historical objects found at sea, a coastal State may presume that their removal from the seabed of the contiguous zone without its consent is unlawful.
Apart from newly built patrol boats, Sarawak should also consider leasing many of the oil and gas ships laid idled by the drop in activities due to the low oil prices. These repurposed O&G vessels could be fitted with water cannons as their primary weapons as it will not be prudent to arm them with big calibre guns like a 30mm RWS if they are only leased for short term basis.
For O&G vessels bought outright for the SCG, they could be armed with anything they feel was needed to the job of course. Some might feel the SCG is duplicating the job of the MMEA, police and RMN in protecting the waters off Sarawak but let’s be honest here, their presence there are not that much to begin with. But I guess there is also the political dimension for the formation of the SCG as the state government must be seen to do something especially in the wake of intrusions of China vessels off its waters.
— Malaysian Defence