Indonesia sinks boats to mark anniversary
INDONESIA sank dozens of impounded foreign boats to mark Independence Day, an official said yesterday, as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo steps up a campaign to stop foreign fishermen from “stealing” in its waters
Since being elected, Mr Jokowi has intensified a campaign to exercise Indonesia’s maritime sovereignty and has sunk and blown up scores of foreign vessels.
“Today, we offer 60 boats” to be scuttled in eight locations, said fisheries ministry official Mas Achmad Santosa.
“This is a gift [for Indonesia] and goes to show our consistency in enforcing the law,” Mr Mas said.
But unlike past boat-sinking events, which were broadcast on national television, yesterday’s ceremony was toned down, with officials barring media coverage.
Officials have also refused to disclose the vessels’ countries of origin.
Previously, Indonesia has scuppered boats from countries including China, Vietnam and Philippines, with Beijing particularly angered by the gesture.
Tensions between Jakarta and Beijing have escalated in recent months as Chinese fishing boats have clashed with Indonesian government vessels, prompting Mr Jokowi to visit the Natunas islands on a warship in June.
On August 16, he pledged to defend “every inch” of Indonesia’s land and maritime territory in a state-of-thenation address.
Unlike several of its Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia has long maintained it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea and does not contest ownership of any territory there. –