IPOH: Boat owner Tan Tiang Eng, whose vessel was lost to pirates nearly four months ago, is thankful to have it returned to him and relieved his crewmen were not harmed.
The boat was reportedly seized by pirates at 70 nautical miles east of Penang on July 9.
Tan contacted the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and steps were taken with Indonesian marine police to track down the perpetrators.
Indonesian authorities managed to detect five of the pirates at their home in East Acheh, based on bank account numbers they gave to the boat owner to bank in ransom money.
Tan, 41, who has several boats, expressed his gratitude to MMEA for recovering his vessel and said this was his first brush with pirates.
‚ÄúI am grateful to the MMEA for helping to retrieve my missing fishing vessel from the pirates.
‚ÄúThey had held my boat and two crew members hostage and demanded RM200,000 in ransom for their release.
‚ÄúI am glad neither of them was hurt,‚Äù he said, at a ceremony to return his boat near Kampung Acheh here on Friday.
Meanwhile, MMEA deputy director-general (Operations) Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said based on the agency‚Äôs investigations, many vessel owners chose to pay ransoms to pirates rather than lodge a report to the authorities.
‚ÄúThis would only encourage pirates to continue their lawbreaking at sea,‚Äù he told reporters after the MMEA returned Tan‚Äôs ship.
Ahmad Puzi said the MMEA had been working closely with their Indonesian counterpart to reduce pirate activities in the Straits of Malacca, adding that they were also working with Singapore and Thailand to ensure the straits is pirate-free.
He advised seafarers to work closely with the agency to curb pirate activities in Malaysian waters.
‚ÄúOwners of ships and fishing vessels harassed by pirates should report to the authorities.
‚ÄúWe must not allow them to intimidate us,‚Äù he said, advising seafarers to call the 999 hotline and that the agency would immediately set out to track down the pirates.
A report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) found the number of pirate attacks along the Straits of Malacca dropped substantially because of patrols by the littoral states authorities since 2005.