21 April 2016
A decade has passed since the Malacca Strait Patrols were launched as a holistic initiative in April 2006 following the initial MALSINDO trilateral coordinated patrols in July 2004. Some useful lessons can be drawn as Southeast Asian littoral states conceive of possible ways forward in promoting regional cooperation in maritime security.
The Malacca Strait has always been crucial to the international community. Ensuring its security is not without challenges when littoral states straddling this waterway have differing views of foreign involvement. While Singapore felt that all users ought to contribute to the strait security, Indonesia and Malaysia viewed it as the littoral states’ sole responsibility.
However, such differences were not prominent in the 1990s since bilateral frameworks, such as the Indonesia-Singapore Coordinated Patrols, sufficed to tackle the prevailing piracy and sea robbery threats then – until the upsurge of attacks in the early-2000s. Following that the shipping industry called for “internationalising” Malacca Strait security under United Nations mandate. Direct external intervention appeared imminent after Washington proposed the Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI), which envisaged US policing of the strait in 2004.
… Koh Swee Lean Collin is an Associate Research Fellow of the Maritime Security Programme, at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 22/04/2016