A look at maritime security in Malaysia

Given events in Lahad Datu and the fact that the infiltration originates from the sea, people are asking questions about the state of maritime security.

A look at maritime security in Malaysia
By DZIRHAN MAHADZIR

Given current events in Lahad Datu and the fact that the infiltration of the country originates from the sea, it is unsurprising that people are asking questions about the state of security in the nation’s maritime zones, the organisation of our security forces in relation to that, as well as how the country maintains security in such areas and prevents untoward incidents and infiltrations.

On paper it would seem an easy task to accomplish but the reality is different. First off, one has to take into account the geography of Malaysia – the country has a total land mass of about 330,000sq km and 4,675km of coastline (peninsular Malaysia 2,068km, East Malaysia 2,607km).

Its waters (including the Exclusive Economic Zones claimed) amount to about 574,000sq km.

Thus it can be seen that the waters that Malaysia has to maintain security and sovereignty over are nearly twice the size of peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia combined, and that is just the beginning. As it is, the waters of Malaysia are not co-joined, having Indonesian and international waters in between peninsular and East Malaysia – and one could also joke, Chinese waters, given the fact that China claims virtually all the waters in that area as its territorial waters.

Also, the distance between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (roughly 1,200km) means that enough ships and personnel have to be stationed in both parts of Malaysia specifically for that part, and it would take a while for any assistance from one part of Malaysia to reach the other part.

Now add to the fact that there are crucial areas for Malaysia which demand specific attention, such as the 200 nautical mile Economic Exclusion Zone, the Spratly Islands (called by the Malaysian military as the Gugusan Semarang Peninjau – GSP operational area), the Malacca Straits and of course, the waters between Sabah and the Philippines. So you can see that this is a huge security task.

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Source: The Star Online.

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