Malaysia wants joint naval patrol, air surveillance with Philippines, Indonesia in Sabah border
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Malaysia has proposed joint maritime patrols and aerial surveillance with the Philippines and Indonesia in the Sulu Sea at the border of Sabah, reports said.
Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the Malaysia would tackle the piracy and kidnapping problems in the Sulu Sea with his Filipino counterpart Voltaire Gazmin and Ryamizard Ryacudu, of Indonesia, according to the Malay Mail.
The same approach was also initiated by Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to address piracy in the Strait of Melaka.
“It is time the same approach is taken to ensure safety in the Sulu Sea as kidnappings are on the rise in the sea, it not only affects Malaysia, but also the neighboring countries,” Hishammuddin told reporters over the weekend on the sideline of a sports festival in Johor’s Kluang district.
There was no immediate statement from Manila on the proposal, but the Philippines signed border patrol agreements with both Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1990s. The country - through the Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command regularly holds separate naval war games every year with Malaysia and Indonesia.
But despite this, Abu Sayyaf rebels have kidnapped Malaysian and Indonesian nationals in Sabah and in the waters of TawiTawi. And since 2000, the Abu Sayyaf intruded into Sabah and kidnapped dozen 21 mostly European hostages in the posh Sipadan resort and ransomed off the victims to Malaysia and Libya.
And the kidnappings continue unabated – due to the failure of Philippine police forces in the Muslim autonomous region to which Tawi-Tawi belongs, and the Western Mindanao Command - formerly Southern Command – to prevent or put a stop to the daring Abu Sayyaf intrusions in Sabah.
On March 26, Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnapped 10 Indonesian crew of the tug- boat Brahma 12 off TawiTawi and then four more Malaysian crew men of the tugboat MasFive 6 were kidnapped in Sabah’s Semporna district. And recently, they also seized four Indonesian tugboat Henry crew members off TawiTawi.
The Abu Sayyaf is also holding Dutchman Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – who were all seized from the posh resort of Samal Island in Davao del Norte province; and Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito.
The Abu Sayyaf demanded P21 million each for the Canadians and Norwegian and threatened to kill them if ransoms are not paid by their family and governments on April 25.