The Resurgence of Piracy in SE Asia

Recent months have seen the resurgence of piracy in the region.

The Resurgence of Piracy in SE Asia


Recent months have seen the resurgence of piracy in the region, leading one United Nations agency to call Southeast Asia a “piracy hotspot”. In fact, there were about eight armed piracy-related attacks at the start of 2014 in the Strait of Malacca, according to a report by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.

Piracy in Southeast Asia is not a new phenomenon. From the 14th to 19th centuries, pirates plundered trading ships loaded with goods from the lucrative spice trade, seeking to boost their own coffers as well as signal their resistance to European colonialists.

Up until 2004, over a third of all pirate attacks in the world took place in Southeast Asian waters. However, strong government and military intervention on land and sea helped to stave off the problem, at least on the surface. Countries like Singapore and Malaysia collectively coordinated sea patrols, increased the number of surveyor airplanes, and collected information on pirates. This transnational effort increased the costs of continuing operations for pirates and halted their involvement in the region.

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