Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The seizure of two MISC vessels Bunga Melati Dua and Bunga Melati Lima earlier last month by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden (a narrow shipping lane between Somalia and Yemen), and the holding of its crew for the purpose of ransom, is to be condemned by the entire world community. The Gulf of Aden is reported to be the world’s most dangerous, and also one of the world’s busiest shipping lane.

The incidence of piracy apparently is not a recent phenomena. Rather, it has taken the toll on many passing ships over several years. It is unbelievable that such incidence have been allowed to occur without any concerted measure to seriously curb the piracy threat to the international shipping community.

The dispatch of three RMN ships by the Malaysian government to the affected area recently, I believe is but only an immediate measure. What plans and strategies will be put in place for long term measure, is not known.

The government must not see this problem as being its own. Unilateral action is not the answer. Rather, it is one that requires an international solution, as it affects the international shipping community. Hence, there ought to be an integrated international effort to fight this lingering security threat that is badly affecting the shipping community.

I suppose an international organization like the UN, should begin the initiative to gather countries whose ships are affected by this threat, to seek and adopt an effective operating arrangement, to protect and ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden.

But as an immediate and effective means to counter these warring pirates, I suggest a military option to seek and destroy the source of the threat, wherever it maybe. I would further suggest that all commercial vessels deploys armed marshals on board, just like the air marshals on board US commercial planes today, following the September 11 destruction of the New York World Trade Centre.


maurice said...

I believe our RMN has the capability to provide long-term naval escort to ensure the security of ships in the area, carrying strategic goods for the nation.But it needs to be properly funded for its operations and logistics which I think are going to be enormous.

Rescue attempts of the crew of the MISC ships need to be done on a multilateral basis with the support of regional and superpower(s). It would be unwise for Malaysia to go at it alone.

lyneham said...

I beg to differ on the issue of applying military option to solve the issue of piracy in the Red Sea. As rightly mentioned, piracy has been rampant in that region for centuries. It is a known fact, that unlike terrorism, the main intent of these pirates is primarily monetary gains and not ideology. Granted that these pirates have the luxury of a sanctuary in the form of Somalia and the inability of the Somali government to control the warlords sponsoring these acts of piracy further excerbates the situation. If the Malaysian government decides to play with fire (use the military option), it must be prepared to do so continuosly. This was the dire strait experienced by the Israelis after the Entebbe Raid in 1972. Launching such a mission would create a sense of vengence which would inevitably result in the further targeting of Malaysian flagged vessels. To effectively strike the pirates, one needs to hit its sanctuaries. Such action would be seen as an act of aggresion against a sovereign state (whatever the circumstances might dictate then). The US Navy operations against Berber pirates in the 19th century remains a valid case point. My suggestion is the formation and endorsement by the UN of a multinational naval escort mission similar to that policing the Shatt El Arab waterways in the 1990s. The deployment of RMN assets are but a short term solution which may eventually require a more holistic albeit multilateral approach. Whatever it is, my prayers go to the safety of the crew and the continuous perseverence of their families back home.