Southeast Asian Waters is widely use as routes for global trade and shipping lane in the world. It extends approximately six hundred nautical miles from the Malacca Strait to the South China Sea through the waters of the Andaman, the East coast of Sumatra (Indonesia), the West coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Strait of Singapore, Gulf of Thailand and Viet Nam. Currently, it is used by approximately 150-900 vessels sailing through the waters daily. An example, eighty percent of the crude oil which is needed by Japanesse industry depends on cruise lines, as most of the oil source in Japan are imported from the Middle East and shipped through the Strait of Malacca through the South China Sea (Ong, 2002: 2). Unfortunately, detoriation of safety has flourished to financial losses are measured due to maritime piracy, terrorism and other transnational crimes. The maritime piracy is inseparable from the existing level of maritime security in the region. This essay will assess maritime piracy and the involvement of various circles in both countries of regional or extra regional to enhance maritime security of regional waters. Otherwise, this essay will have a special focus on the Malacca Strait and South China Sea because of the number of piracy incidents in this area, and for its considerable strategic significance.
Vessel hijacking occurred since past history. For instance: in the Barbary Bay, maritime piracy happened since 1500, pirates in the Caribbean has existed since 1750 and similarly along Southeast Asian waters existed hundreds years ago. In the modern era, the economic development in Southeast Asia classified as mediocre developing countries and most people who live in the coastal area worked as pirates; as a culture herritage from the coastal style of living. Maritime piracy in Southeast Asia began to be seriously highlighted since the late 1990′s, and it shows up as an international issue when most of the Southeast Asia states suffered a financial crisis (Raymond, 2009: 32-33). As highlighted by the International Maritime Bureau, there were nine incidents of piracy that took place in 1994, and later increased to 445 incidents in 2003 (Dillon, 2005: 155).
It is believed that they became a pirate, because it is easier to set income compared working as fishermen or farmer. They never realise the consequences as they did it only to survive. In contrast, if they have different skills or vast knowledge to build a better standard of life improvement than being a pirate. The challenge is how to convey the knowledge, so, they will have a better way of life. It is believed that through the three approaches:
(Firstly): Government from ASEAN States should stop assuming that they were coming from the descendant of pirates, therefore, they will never had an assumption to continue the legacy of their ancestors.
(Secondly): They should provided with good knowledge, so, in future they have another alternatives to survive.
(Finaly): Government from ASEAN countries should give them more opportunities in terms of employment. It must be accomplished by International authorities in each country and associated with a good governance. Therefore, with a better standard of economy, they will never succumb to piracy anymore.
The Definition of maritime piracy under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS, 1982: Chapter 101), referred to as:
1. Any illegal acts, violence or detention, or any act of genocide, committed for private purposes by the crew or passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
a. On the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board the ship or aircraft.
b. Against ships, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of the State.
2. The voluntary participation in the operation of the ship or an aircraft with knowledge of the facts to make a pirate ship or aircraft.
3. Any act of inciting or of intentionally assisting the action described in subparagraph (a) or (b).
The International Maritime Bureau piracy maritime is defined as follows (Dillon, 2005: 155):
“Act of boarding any ship with intent to commit theft, or other crimes, and with a view to being able to use the power in furtherance of the action”
From the definition above, we can assume about maritime piracy, namely; maritime piracy is a group of people as participant in the crime of the sea, breaking the rule of International law, hurting the crowd, and endangering the international welfare.
In Southeast Asian waters, a decrease in the number of maritime piracy has taken place in the South China Sea, Strait of Thailand and Viet Nam. In 2010, the South China Sea has 17 incidents, in Thailand Strait has only one incident and Viet Nam has 10 incidents. During January-September 2011, maritime piracy in that regions decreased to 10 incidents in South China Sea, 6 incidents in Viet Nam and the Strait of Thailand has no incident at all. Significant progress is due to the seriousness of that countries to enforce the commitment against maritime piracy. However, it is inversely proportional for Southeast Asian waters in the Strait of Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia which saw an increased number of piracy at sea which reached the highest number in the last five years (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
In Indonesia, two thirds of the maritime piracy incident occurred around Dumai and Belawan (Sumatra), Samarinda (Borneo) and Tanjung Priok (Jakarta). During 2008-2009 piracy at sea had decreased, with 18 incidents in 2008 and 10 incidents in the year 2009. However, since 2010 the number had increased again to 33 incidents and drastically to 36 incidents in the period of January-September 2011. 36 incidents; it consist of 35 actual incidents and one attempted incident. It seems quite complex for Indonesia to deal with the problem of maritime piracy, possibly, due to the vast archipelago of Indonesia which has a vast area of water to be monitored and causes many empty places to be care due to limited assets (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
For Malaysia, the number of maritime piracy has increased in 2011, although, it is not significant, but it needs serious handling. 13 incidents occurred in 2009, as well as in 2010 and it increased to 14 incidents (11 hijacking incidents and 3 attempted) during January-September 2011. Not an easy task for Malaysia as well to handle maritime piracy due to the position nearby to Malacca Strait as the world shipping lane (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
Philippines, in comparison to other countries in Southeast Asia, the number of maritime piracy in its region is not as much as the others. However, the number of occurrences in the Philippines waters has no mean changes from year to year. In 2008, there were six attacks, three incidents in 2009, in 2010 and 2011 remains in place with four incidents. It is possible due to the cruising line in the Philippines waters which are not as dense in the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. However, fighting maritime piracy should be achieved for the goal of creating a harmonious and peaceful area in the Southeast Asian waters (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
In 2010, The Malacca Strait and Singapore saw the depletion number of maritime piracy over the past five years, consisting of five incidents with two actual and three attempted incidents. Unfortunately, during January-September 2011, piracy attacks in the region increased to 20 incidents; which consist of 18 actual and two attempted incidents. Most of the incidents involves attacking the fishing vessels and one incident involves the kidnapping of the Chief Engineer of GM Gallant in Kuala Langsar, Malaysia. Again, it could be seen that it is difficult to eradicate maritime piracy in Malacca Strait and Singapore as the world shipping lane (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
During January-September 2011. South China Sea has a significant progress in realization of Maritime Security. It shows a decreasing number of maritime piracy. However, in the region such of Malacca Strait and Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have a variety of efforts in combating crime at the sea has not yet achieved an optimal results. The failures are due to the inadequate coordination between stakeholders to eradicate these crimes, lack of experts to handle the issue and also there are too much bureaucracy without a maximum working in handling (ReCAAP, 2011: 7-8).
Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery againts ships in Asia (ReCAAP) is a cooperation Goverment to Government in Asia to deal with the maritime piracy issue. This cooperation was formed on November 11, 2004 by 17 States consisting of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Negara Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri lanka, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. ReCAAP has an important role against maritime piracy especialy in Southeast Asia. ReCAAP is a very effective cooperation, as supported by Information Sharing Centre (ISC) as a facility to share information regarding the maritime piracy and provide some solutions to its members. The information will be published in annual, quarterly and half yearly reports. ReCAAP ISC was inaugurated on November 29, 2006 and was declared as the International organization on 30 January 2007 (ReCAAP Website: 2011).
The roles of the ReCAAP are (ReCAAP Website: 2011):
1. Serve as a platform for information exchange with the ReCAAP Focal Points via the Information Network System (INS); facilitate communications and information exchange among participating governments; to improve incident response by member countries; analyse and prove accurate statistics of the piracy and armed robbery incidents; to foster a better understanding of the situation in Asia.
2. Facilitate capacity building efforts that help the improvement of the member countries capability in combating piracy and armed robbery againts the ship.
3 Cooperative working with like-minded organisations and parties on joint exercises, information sharing, capacity building programme, or other forms of cooperation, as appropriate, and agree upon among the Contracting Parties.
In April 14 2011, Piracy And Sea Robbery Conference was conducted by the International Organtization such of ReCAAP, IMO, ASF, SNEC, EU NAVOR, INTERTANKO, BIMCO, NATO Shipping Centre and RSIS in Singapore, which was determined to sustain the cooperation between cruise community with the Governments of the countries; concerned to build confidence; and create a comfort zone for shipping activities in Asia. Then, respond to the increasing maritime piracy in 2011, likely caused by more stringent enforcement in other areas; increase in the volume of vessels traffic; crew lack basic security awareness and situation awareness resulted in more reporting by ship masters and owners (Piracy&Sea Robbery Conference, 2011: 5-7).
For several years, the problem of Maritime Security is always a concern in every regional meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The aim is to create an environment, peaceful and harmonious in the Southeast Asia. ASEAN States have agreed to conduct Joint Military Operations and Intelligence Data Sharing. Among the initiative taken in Southeast Asia has a Combined Military Operations againts maritime piracy in the Malacca Strait. Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have a coordinated patrol in the area that are prone to maritime piracy in the the Strait of Malacca. Northern of the Malacca Strait, Joint Operation are held in between Rondo Island (Indonesia) to Phuket (Thailand), and then in the southern part, started from the Karimun island to Tanjung Piai with a total distance of about 975 kilometers. In achieving the optimal result, coordinated patrol are divided into four points such of Batam and Belawan (Indonesia), Lumut in Malaysia, Changi in Singapore and Phuket in Thailand (Indonesia MoD site, 2010).
The ARF meeting in August 2011, was discussed about some way in increasing Maritime Security around the Southeast Asian waters. This is a basic need to reduce the number of maritime crimes which is a big deal to finance and international welfare. Some important things that were emphasized at the meeting was to promote the peaceful environment; and harmonious Southeast Asian waters with a view to eliminate the maritime piracy. In addition, the meeting also suggested several ways in promoting peace, stability and economic growth in the ASEAN (ARF, 2011: 4-5).
ADSOM Plus, is a defence official of ASEAN meeting, that was conducted by ASEAN States plus the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Russia, and India. In the meeting in Indonesia, April 29, 2011, some planning concepts of defence cooperation. There are five concepts be resulted such as, maritime security; humanitarian assistance and disaster management; peace keeping operations; terrorism; and military medicine. Specifically to the concept of Maritime Security made by Australia and Malaysia (ASEAN defence site, 2011).
In addition, United States as an extra-regional country also played a role in Maritime Security in Southeast Asian waters. For example, they assess the importance of supporting ASEAN in keeping the Strait of Malacca. The Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Patrick Walsh, stated that the United States has a will to participate in the Maritime Security in the Strait of Malacca. The United States will provide some support in an intensive training program which are relevant for Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia with respect to improve the military capability againts the maritime piracy in the region (Antara News, 2011).
In Future, supported by extra regional countries, ASEAN should be aware that handling of regional Maritime Security is consider as top priority. Increasing Maritime Security cooperation to counter the development of modern threats, the implementation of agreement, highlighting the need of improvement and positive willingness of all countries who use the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea as a major cruise lines, therefore, to overcome the problem; it must be quickly resolved in accordance with its objectives. The need of commitment and cooperation, then very likely maritime piracy in the world could be eradicate.
Finaly, this essay assessed that, maritime piracy is considered as an ancestral culture and this assumption can be omitted if the Government can remove these thoughts; provide education and skills; and can provide an alternative opportunity for better standard of life. Conditions of maritime Security in the Southeast Asian waters assessed is still unstable and will be continously a problem faced by all ASEAN countries, if there were no intensive management, the number of maritime piracy in the region will be still active especially in the Malacca Strait and Indonesian waters during January-September 2011. Improvement of Maritime Security is considered very important, because to boost the financial sector and international prosperity. ReCAAP, ARF and ADSOM Plus are some International organizations that played an important role in the elimination of maritime piracy. The Organization has been sharing information and enhance military cooperation in the fight against maritime piracy. The most important thing is to work in hands and talk less in conducting of joint commitment. The hope, with optimal efforts and willingness of the regional States assisted by extra-regional, maritime piracy in the Southeast Asian waters can be reduced and eliminated in favor of creating a region of peace and harmony.
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