Malaysia, In­done­sia, the Philip­ines to jointly air pa­trol over Sulu Seas

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PETALING JAYA: Malaysia, In­done­sia and the Philip­pines yes­ter­day launched the Tri­lat­eral Air Pa­trol ( TAP) op­er­a­tions over Sulu Seas to tackle cross-border crime is­sues in­clud­ing ter­ror­ist threats and kid­nap­pings.

De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Tun Hus­sein said the joint ini­tia­tive was aimed at coun­ter­ing the move­ment of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists and ter­ror­ists across bor­ders of the three na­tions.

“What is most con­cern­ing is the activation of this mar­itime do­main by ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions as a base of op­er­a­tions.

“The ex­ten­sive na­ture of the ef­fects in­flicted by th­ese threats has made it clear that it should not be ad­dressed by one coun­try alone.

“It re­quires re­gional co­op­er­a­tion among like-minded coun­tries,” he said at the launch of the TAP, at the Royal Malaysian Air Force ( RMAF) Base in Subang, here yes­ter­day.

Also present were Min­is­ter of De­fence for In­done­sia Gen­eral (Rtd) Ryamizard Ry­acudu and Sec­re­tary of Na­tional De­fence for the Philip­pines, Delfin Loren­zana.

Hisham­mud­din said with the re­gion con­sumed by the grow­ing threat posed by Daesh mil­i­tants, the ini­tia­tive was sig­nif­i­cance not just in the Sulu Seas, but in the con­text of chal­lenges in South­east Asia more broadly.

“We can­not re­fute the fact that the coali­tion’s suc­cesses against Daesh mil­i­tants in the Mid­dle East have led to the re­turn of for­eign fight­ers to our re­gion,” he said.

He added that the Marawi City siege was ev­i­dent that af­fil­i­ated ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and sym­pa­this­ers have ex­ploited the por­ous bor­ders and linked up with lo­cal ter­ror­ist groups.

TAP serves as the sec­ond com­po­nent of the Tri­lat­eral Co­op­er­a­tive Ar­range­ment (TCA) to com­ple­ment the first as­pect, the Tri­lat­eral Mar­itime Pa­trol (TMP) launched last June in Tarakan.

Malaysia, In­done­sia and the Philip­pines have agreed to adopt a con­tin­u­ous monthly ro­ta­tion for the joint TAP whereby Malaysia will be the first na­tion to lead the op­er­a­tion next month us­ing air­craft from the RMAF, fol­lowed by the Philip­pines in De­cem­ber and sub­se­quently In­done­sia in Jan­uary 2018.

Hisham­mud­din said although the amount of global trade pass­ing through the Sulu Seas is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the amount pass­ing the Straits of Malacca, it is nonethe­less sub­stan­tial to se­cure the sea wa­ters as about US$ 40 bil­lion worth of goods tran­sit the wa­ters an­nu­ally. — Ber­nama

Hisham­mud­din in a show of unity with Ryamizad Ry­acudu (left) and Delfin N. Loren­zana (right) af­ter launch­ing the Tri­lat­eral Air Pa­trol at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base in Subang. — Ber­nama photo

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