By Sylvia Looi
LUMUT: Piracy in the Straits of Malacca has seen a significant drop following the setting up of the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in 1999.
Its deputy director-general (operation) Vice-Admiral Maritime Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said there were no cases of merchant ships being robbed between 2009 and 2010.
“In 2011, there were two incidences of robbery by pirates and we managed to solve one of them,” he said, adding that in 2012 and 2013, there were also no reports of robbery by pirates.
Speaking to reporters here today after returning a fishing boat which was seized by Indonesian pirates in July, Ahmad Puzi said reports of fishing boats seized by pirates also saw a drop.
“This year, three cases were reported which were later solved with the co-operation of our Indonesian counterpart,” he added.
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.
Ahmad Puzi urged ship and fishing boat owners to continue with their good practises to keep piracy at sea in check.
“Call the hotline at 999 if they are harassed by pirates,” he added.
On the fishing boat which was returned to its owner, Ahmad Puzi said the boat was seized by pirates at 70 nautical miles east of Penang on¬†July 9¬†this year.
“The owner immediately contacted us and steps were taken with Indonesia’s marine police to track down the perpetrators,” he said.
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.
On a separate matter, Ahmad Puzi said since 2006, the agency had seized 627 fishing boats, majority from Vietnam, worth over RM250 million for encroaching into Malaysian waters.
Meanwhile, boat owner Tan Tiang Eng, 41, who has several boats, expressed his gratitude to MMEA for recovering his vessel and said this was his first brush with the pirates.
“I am thankful the pirates did not harm my two crew members on the boat,” he added.