Posts Tagged ‘APMM’
The 14th edition of the biennial Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition ended last week leaving many in awe of the performances and displays in both the aerospace and maritime segments. Kudos to the EN Projects Sdn Bhd as the main organiser and also to the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Transport as well as the supporting government agencies.
The 14th edition of LIMA saw an increase in the number of exhibitors compared to LIMA ’15. 555 exhibitors participated this time compared to 512 in 2015. While 39, 689 trade visitors visited LIMA ’15, 40,280 trade visitors were at LIMA ’17, surpassing the target of 40,000 trade visitors. 139,478 public visitors were at LIMA ’15. The target for this edition was 140,000 public visitors. Surprisingly, 236,689 public visitors visited this year’s LIMA – 104,557 visitors on the first open day, and 132,132 on the final day making a total of 276,969 visitors to LIMA ’17.
It must have been a boon to the Langkawi economy to have that increase in the number of visitors over five days and definitely helpful to the small traders especially in the Padang Matsirat, Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Kedawang, and Kuah areas.
A special commendation should be given to the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy for lending their support in driving the industries as well as foreign armed forces’ participation in all the activities during LIMA 17.
QUALITY OF EXHIBITORS
From my personal observation, since the 13th edition of LIMA there has been an inreasing number of unrelated government agencies and companies exhibiting at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre such as the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and a Private Limited printing company!
Unless there is a masterplan to annouce Langkawi as an aviation and maritime hub, I do not see the relevancy in having LADA at the aviation exhibition hall. MARA would be relevant if it provides assistances for students to study maritime or aeronautical-related studies or for local small and medium enterpreneurs to participate in the local maritime and aviation industry which is rather limited.
What did not happen was for local universities to showcase their research projects in order to secure fundings from local and foreign aviation and maritime giants. LIMA would be a perfect platform for local universities to showcase their research in both the industries.
Local shipbuilders, other than the local giants in the defence sector, were largely missing from the exhibition. Local shipbuilders are mainly into constructing oil and gas and transportation of cargo, crude and gas products should have showcased their capabilities at LIMA. This is where the Ministry of Transport could help in getting the participation of more civilian-transport applications providers to exhibit at LIMA.
Kudos should also be given to both the Minister of Defence as well as the Minister for Youth and Sports in driving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) programmes for the youth at LIMA. LIMA should also be about providing avenues for the youth to participate in the aviation and maritime industries.
LESSONS FROM THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY
The Malaysian Oil and Gas industry has its biennial Asian Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Engineering (OGA) Exhibition and is into its 16th edition this year. Unlike LIMA, OGA is fully industry-driven. The event is supported by the British-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, Malaysian Gas Association, Malaysian Offshore Contractors Association, Malaysia Petroleum Resources Corporation, Offshore Support Vessels Owners Association and the Malaysia Oil and Gas Services Council.
LIMA is co-organised by EN Projects Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Defence, supported by five ministries, the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Services Department, and the Royal Malaysian Customs. I am surprised that none of the industry councils and associations play the supporting role instead of just collaborating role.
We have so many defence and security contractors yet they all have to rely on the ministries and agencies above to put together an event for them to participate. Why does the government have to do the hard selling on their behalf? Isn’t it time, after 14 editions, for the industry players themselves to come together and become the co-organisers or event supporters?
Lined up at sea off Tanjung Malai were military vessels or vessels chartered by the military. I did not see a single vessel from the Malaysia Shipowners’ Association, or civilian and military boatbuilders showcasing their products at sea.
LIMA could be bigger than just a military/security party. Airlines did not send their aircraft this time around. At LIMA ’15 there was an Airbus A320-200 belonging to Air Asia. This was absent at LIMA ’17. Imagine a daily flypast of aircraft – perhaps an arrowhead formation with an Airbus A380 followed by an Airbus A330 and A320 flanked by Boeing 737-800s and Boeing 737-900s, followed by a smaller diamond four formation of ATR-72s.
The above will never happen unless industry players take the lead in supporting LIMA.
For the Royal Malaysian Air Force, opportunities to replace the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N comes in the form of the Dassault Rafale. LIMA ’17 saw Dassault Aviation pulling no punches when promoting the Rafale for Malaysia. LIMA ’17 was followed by a visit by French President Francoise Hollande who also put the sale of the Dassault Rafale to Malaysia on the agenda. Although Malaysia had said that it was not time to purchase the Rafale, it is important to note that the F/A-18D Hornets will be 30 years old in 10 years while the Sukhoi Su-30MKM will be in its 20th year of service in the RMAF.
The other interesting Euro-Canard contender is the Saab JAS-39 Gripen. The Royal Thai Air Force’s Gripen participated in the aerobatic display in the first four days. Touted as a more affordable but equally potent as the Dassault Rafale, the Gripen’s cost would prove to be an attractive candidate to replace the MiG-29N.
At LIMA ’15, Saab had offered the Malaysian government a lease deal for 16 JAS-39C/D Gripens.
However, the tragedy involving a RTAF JAS-39 Gripen that killed its pilot earlier this year still plays in everyone’s mind. The Gripen was performing in Hatyai for the Thai Children’s Day. Footage of the accident shows the Gripen starting a slow aileron roll; once inverted, the aircraft fails to complete the maneuver, stops rolling and takes a nosedive crashing near the airfield’s runway.
There has been ten accidents involving the Gripen with nine hull losses and one fatality. At least two of the accidents have been attributed to Flight Control Software issues. The incident in Hatyai is still being investigated.
Of course there is also the option to upgrade the surviving 16 MiG-29Ns as a stop-gap mesure. At LIMA ’15, Malaysia’s Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation offered upgrades that would only be a fraction of the cost of purchasing new MRCAs.
The upgraded aircraft will be called the MiG-29NM and will include a Zhuk-ME FGM-229 slotted phased-array fire control radar that will provide an air-to-ground capability not available on the baseline aircraft, which are optimized for the air defense role.
The avionics system incorporates a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, with two color multifunction displays and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) functionality.
Weapons systems and pylons will be upgraded, making the MiG-29NM capable of carrying the full range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons available to Malaysia’s Su-30s.
The Klimov RD-33 Series 3 engines of the MiG-29N will remain, but a conformal fuel tank added to the spine of the aircraft, together with an extra ventral tank, will increase operational range by 30 percent.
Malaysia, however, had declined this offer deemed expensive.
It would be interesting to note that other than the Indian Air Force, the Myanmar Air Force had also recently upgraded its MiG-29s at RAC MiG facilities near Moscow. This upgrade, said to be cheaper than what was initially offered to Malaysia, is now being offered to both Malaysia and Bangladesh which operates eight MiG-29B and is also seeking upgrades.
It would be interesting to see what the government’s decision on the MiG-29Ns would be.
Opportunities such as this is what local companies should get involved with. The aerospace industry that had taken off with the introduction of LIMA still remains status quo. Indonesia has gone on commercial production with its aircraft lines while we are stil struggling to even produce components that would be accepted internationally.
LIMA is here to stay. Other than the Singapore Air Show, this is one that is looked at in this region. While the Singapore Air Show is huge, LIMA is just of the right size for mission-specific companies to participate in. It is just unfortunate that the industry is not helping out to drive the show instead of relying on the government’s goodwill.
Hopefully EN Projects Sdn Bhd together with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Transport would flog the industry players to play a much bigger role in helping to drive LIMA into the exhibition every global industry player would look forward to.
Defence expenditure is likely to rise as this region and beyond continue to face traditional and non-traditional threats. The role of the defence industry is also changing dramatically, as new and changing threats require further research and development, increasing the overall costs and pricing of defence products and services.
This was the gist of the message conveyed by Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, at the opening ceremony of the Langkawi International Aerospace and Maritime 2017 (LIMA ’17) exhibition this morning.
“We need to equip our fighting men with the capabilities required to face modern warfare, both symmetrical and asymmetrical, and LIMA ’17 brings together major aerospace and maritime firms from around the world to demonstrate their state-of-the-art static and aerial displays and cutting-edge technologies,” he added.
One of the exhibitors, Leonardo Helicopter Division, a division of the Leonardo S.p.A that is headquartered in Italy, celebrated today the successful reaching of the impressive 100,000 flying hours milestone with the Weststar Aviation Services’s AW139 fleet.
Weststar Aviation Services is the largest South East Asian offshore helicopter services provider and largest helicopter operator of the AW139 in Asia.
Leonardo has also brought the ATR-72MP aircraft which is being proposed for Malaysia’s requirement for an advanced new maritime patrol capability. In the Electronics Warfare segment, Leonardo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hensoldt (the new name for Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security) to offer Mode-5 IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) solutions to customers around the world. This collaboration between two European leaders in defence electronics technology shows how, by joining forces, the team can position itself as market leader for cutting-edge new requirements. The two companies, working together as “Team Skytale”, have already been selected as preferred bidder by the UK Ministry of Defence to upgrade IFF systems on more than 400 land, sea and air vehicles.
The IFF technology allows operators to electronically identify friendly forces, distinguishing them from potential enemies. It does this by sending out an interrogation signal to unidentified platforms and verifying the automatic responses that are sent back, effectively a modern-day challenge and password system. Ensuring that ground, air and naval crews can reliably recognise their compatriots is one of the main ways of avoiding ‘friendly fire’ incidents. In 2020, all NATO nations are mandated to switch over to the new, more-secure ‘Mode-5’ version of the technology and other nations looking to operate alongside NATO forces will also need to be able to interact with the new standard. Mode-5 uses the latest cryptographic techniques to avoid the threat of deception by adversaries.
In another development, Thales has been selected by AirAsia to supply avionics systems on AirAsia’s new fleet of 304 A320neos. Thales will equip the 304 single-aisles with its market leading Flight Management System (FMS), the navigation solution of choice for Airbus aircraft, alongside the THALES/ACSS T3CAS surveillance platform, the preferred solution for all Airbus single aisle aircraft.
Thales has been partnering with AirAsia, leading LCC in Asia, since 2005, forging a close relationship in support of the airline’s growth strategy. AirAsia already equips their entire Airbus fleet with Thales systems and has selected the group for all maintenance and support operations for Thales systems equipped across their entire A320 fleet of 200 aircraft. In addition to the avionics suite, Thales will continue to provide a Repair-by-The-Hour (RBTH) long-term maintenance contract to support AirAsia’s fleet expansion. The agreement provides guaranteed turnaround times on repairs and offers a commitment of reliability with reduced operational risk.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Minister of Defence, Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, met with representatives from five countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and Qatar to present his view on how to combat the Da’esh threats. The establishment of the King Salman Center of International Peace was also on the agenda of this meeting.
Making its debut in Langkawi is the Republic of Korea Air Force’s 53rd Air Demonstration Group. Commonly known as the “Black Eagles” the RoKAF team buzzed the skies of Langkawi in their KAI T-50B Golden Eagle supersonic advanced trainers. The T-50B is one of the few supersonic trainers currently available in the world.
The Russians is well-represented. The “Russian Knights (Russkiye Vityazi)” aerobatic team showcasing their Sukhoi Su-30SM aircraft for the first time outside Russia, while the Royal Malaysian Air Force performs aerobatics in its Sukhoi Su-30MKM.
The air aces of the two countries, whose performances constantly evoke admiration of the audience, highly praised the flight characteristics of their supermanouverable aircraft.
President of Irkut Corporation Oleg Demchenko marked the high skills of pilots and their ability to use the maximum extent of the fighter’s capabilities while First vice-president of UAC Alexander Tulyakov said: “Positive evaluation of aircraft given by pilots is very important for us – the developers and manufacturers”.
The meeting resulted with a joint photo shoot against the background of Su-30SM and Su-30MKM aircraft.
Russian’s Rostec State Corporation is working with the government of Malaysia to expand cooperation through the supply of civilian products and aviation.
“Over the last 20 years Malaysia has been a strategic partner of the Rostec State Corporation. We are actively involved in military and technical cooperation in a number of areas: aviation, the army and the military navy, and in recent years our cooperation has gained momentum. We are currently engaged in arms supply programs and are upgrading technology that was previously supplied to Malaysia.
We are also looking to extending our cooperation to civil areas that have growth potential: electronics, composite materials and IT. The civil aviation market, especially the helicopter sector, is also showing great potential for us,” said Head of the joint delegation from Rostec and Rosoboronexport at the 2017 LIMA exhibition Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of the State Corporation.
“LIMA-2017 is the most important event for the aviation and military navy markets of Malaysia and the surrounding region and our participation in it is a long-standing tradition. LIMA-2017 is attracting representatives of various countries of this region and we are looking to conducting fruitful negotiations both with the Malaysian Government and delegations from other countries,” he pointed out.
In the afternoon, the Prime Minister Najib Razak officiated the Maritime Segment which also involved major exhibitors such as THALES, MAST, ACS and SAAB, showcasing the latest technologies in defence products and a demonstration by the elite forces of Malaysia’s security enforcement agencies.
This year’s opening gimmick had the elite forces searching for a box containing a key for the Prime Minister to activate the launch sequence. The key was located using technologically-advanced, unmanned equipment that assisted the forces, including from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), and was handed over to the Chief of Navy, Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Haji Ahmad Badaruddin who then handed it to the Prime Minister.
Following the launch, a live action demonstration from the RMN Special Forces, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Marine Department of Malaysia with the setting being a hostage rescue mission at sea.
Later, Najib officiated the naming ceremony of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s latest Offshore Patrol Vessel, the “KM Pekan”. In attendance were Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein as well as Japan’s Deputy Minister of Land Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, Tanaka Ryosei.
The “KM Pekan” is one of two offshore patrol vessels donated by the Japanese government to the MMEA in 2016. Both vessels are 92 meters in length with speed of 20 knots and endurance of 30 days, suitable for enforcement missions in the South China Sea as well as in eastern Sabah. Both are equipped with a helideck and state-of-the-art radars.
According to the Director-General of the MMEA, Admiral (Maritime) Datuk Seri Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, a set of crew has been sent to Japan to bring home the second vessel.
For yesterday’s article, please click Defence: LIMA ’17 To Be More Exciting
Baru-baru ini, pakal peronda generasi baru milik Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) telah mendapat sebuah Kapal Peronda Generasi Baru (NGPC) yang diberi nama ‘KM Bagan Datuk’. Ianya telah dilancarkan oleh Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
Ini yang dijadikan isu. Pembangang mempersoalkan kenapa Rosmah dan bukan Najib Razak sebagai PM melancarkannya.
Sebelum wujudnya tradisi pelancaran kapal oleh kaum wanita, semua pelancaran kapal di Eropah bermula 1680 adalah dengan para hadirin meminum wain dalam bekas yang diperbuat dari perak untuk mengucap selamat kepada kapal tersebut serta bakal anak-anak kapalnya. Bekas perak ini kemudiannya dicampak ke dalam laut.
Tradisi tersebut dihentikan akibat kos bekas perak yang terlalu mahal.
Tradisi melancarkan kapal oleh wanita mula dilakukan oleh Royal Navy pada kurun ke 18. Pada mulanya, House of Hanover, iaitu keluarga yang memerintah England pada masa itu diminta menaja salah satu kapal perang. Maka, seorang Puteri dari House of Hanover telah membaling sebuah botol berisi wain ke kapal tersebut.
Oleh kerana kapal tersebut telah ditaja, Puteri Raja yang melancarkan kapal tersebut digelar sebagai Sponsor (Penaja).
Bermula 1811, Putera Pemangku George Augustus Frederick yang kemudiannya menjadi Raja George IV telah menitahkan supaya semua kapal perang milik Royal Navy dilancarkan oleh seorang wanita sebagai Penaja kapal tersebut.
Hampir kesemua negara di dunia ini menggunakan Penaja wanita untuk melancarkan kapal-kapal perangnya, terutamanya negara-negara Komanwel yang mana Malaysia adalah salah satu negara anggota Komanwel.
Dengan sebab itu maka Rosmah menjadi Penaja bagi ‘KM Bagan Datuk’ dan bukannya Najib Razak.
Empat tahun dan satu bulan yang lalu, seorang wanita bernama Siti Hasmah, yang merupakan mantan Perdana Menteri Malaysia, telah melancarkan sebuah kapal latihan Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia (TLDM) bernama ‘Gagah Samudera’.
Isteri kepada Siti Hasmah tidak dibenarkan menjadi Penaja kapal tersebut kerana khuatir beliau akan membuat benda yang lain disebabkan beliau mudah lupa.
Kalaulah saya ini seorang Ketua Negara, saya akan mengarahkan semua agensi keselamatan maritim melancarkan kapal-kapal mereka dengan mengikut cara Viking iaitu dengan mengikat seorang pembangang ke leding pelancaran di belakang buritan kapal yang hendak dilancarkan tersebut. Apabila kapal tersebut dilancarkan, ia akan menggelongsor di atas leding tersebut dan melenyekkan tubuh pembangang tersebut sebelum masuk ke dalam air.
Itu sahaja ubat untuk orang yang bangang.
- In: Defence
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The survivor floats on the surface of the sea, having escaped a plane crash less than an hour ago. The current here is strong and he drifts farther away from the main group of survivors. Then he saw a speck of grey flying towards him. It was a Airbus Helicopter EC725 dubbed the Super Cougar, the new workhorse of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Inside the cockpit, the pilot could spot the lone survivor and a few others, drifting towards the open sea. Thanks to the AHCAS (Advanced Helicopter Cockpit and Avionics System), pilots of the EC725 could do what its predecessor, the Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri, could not. The EC725 features a full glass cockpit and the Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays ensure the pilots better monitoring of the displays under the glaring late morning sun.
The pilot hovers over the drifting survivor. He is assisted by a digital search and rescue system that provides automatic search patterns, transition and hover. Unlike the Nuri, the EC725 could “drift” along with the survivor as the winch strop is lowered by the air quartermaster. Although the hover altitude is higher (more than double the Nuri’s), the EC725 managed to pick up the drifting survivor and other drifting survivors in no time, thanks to the powerful twin Turbomeca Makila 1A4 turboshaft engines that features a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) , something the Nuri was not capable of. The Nuri would have to fly away after a couple of pick ups to cool its engines off.
The above was the Water Search And Rescue portion of the Search and Rescue exercise (SAREX LIMA 15) in preparation for next week’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2015 (LIMA 2015). The exercise was divided into two segments, Water SAR and Land SAR. SAREX LIMA 15 was to test the Search and Rescue plan and inter-agencies coordination and logistical cooperation. The aim was to test, assess and improve the Airport Emergency Plan before the commencement of LIMA 2015. The Exercise was held from the 4th to 6th March 2015 and involved among others the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Royal Malaysian Police, Royal Malaysian Navy, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, the Fire and Rescue Services Department, the Malaysian Marine Department, Ministry of Health, the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the Malaysian Army’s Royal Medical Corps, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and last but not least, the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia. Assets that were involved included two helicopters, 11 surface vessels and four jet-skis.
When met, RMAF’s Chief of Staff (Air Operations) Major General Dato Haji Abdul Mutalib bin Abdul Wahab TUDM said that he was awed by the superb performance of the EC725. He opined that the EC725 is by far the best search-and-rescue asset he has ever seen, given the capabilities it displayed during SAREX LIMA 15. This is of course of utmost importance as there are quarters bent on ridiculing military purchases. Seeing with my own eyes how the EC725 was able to hover effortlessly throughout the exercise brought much satisfaction to me knowing that this was the correct choice made by the RMAF and there should not be any politically-motivated condemnation towards the organisation for purchasing what it should have had for the longest time.
The Fire and Rescue Services Department should also be applauded for a superb medical evacuation exercise task performed at SAREX LIMA 15 using its Mi-171 helicopter.
It is hoped that the inter-agencies coordination that was put to test during SAREX LIMA 15 will better prepare the emergency services for any eventuality not just for LIMA 2015, but for all search-and-rescue incidents.
- In: What da f***!!
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Just before midnight on Sunday, 4th May 2014, four heavily armed men dressed in army fatigues robbed four fishermen of their boat engines off Tanjung Labian, the scene of last year’s bloody incursion by armed Filipino men. Around 2.45am on Tuesday, 6th May 2014, just 51 hours after Sunday’s incident, five armed men also dressed in army fatigues kidnapped Chinese national, Yang Zai Lin from his fish farm on Pulau Baik south west of Lahad Datu. The Marine Police sent two fast patrol craft, a PA-class and a PSC-class, to intercept the boat the armed men used. There was an exchange of gunfire between them near Pulau Mataking but the armed men evaded capture in international waters after reaching the Sibutu islands, some 10 nautical miles from Mataking, quoting the Sabah Police Commissioner, Datuk Hamza Taib in The Star newspaper.
I cannot but agree with Kalabakan MP, Datuk Ghapur Salleh who was quoted to have said the following:
““Esscom is a toothless tiger. They have no command of the police or the army. It is better to get someone who has power.”
For those who have never been to that part of the world, let me first orientate you on the landscape.
As you can see in the map above, Pulau Baik (where the incident took place) is at the bottom left of the map, definitely more than 30 nautical miles away from Lahad Datu.
The distance between Pulau Baik and the fringe of the Sibutu islands is approximately 50 nautical miles. In calm seas and in a really fast boat, it should take an hour from Pulau Baik to the Philippines.
The distance between Mataking and the Sibutu islands is around 8 nautical miles.
Looking at the landscape, it would be erroneous to treat the whole area like any other borders that Malaysia has with its neighbours. And appointing a civilian to head trans-border armed incursions is downright negligence.
The marine police dispatched two patrol craft to intercept the armed intruders but stopped once the armed men were in their territorial waters for reasons only known to them. This morning’s incident is the third cross-border kidnapping incident in the areas controlled by ESSCOM.
The two fast patrol craft sent to intercept the armed men are very fast ones indeed (see photos below). Why they stopped once the armed men crossed into Filipino-waters puzzles me. I do not know how well read the people running ESSCOM are, but maybe they only read certain parts of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) such as Paragraph 3 of Article 111 of the Convention that states the following:
“The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State.
Perhaps, Paragraph 2 of the same Article should have been read too! It says:
“The right of hot pursuit shall apply mutatis mutandis to violations in the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf, including safety zones around continental shelf installations, of the laws and regulations of the coastal State applicable in accordance with this Convention to the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf, including such safety zones.“
In this case, in fulfilling with Article 98 of UNCLOS, a breach by our patrol craft into the waters of the Philippines would have been a technical breach, with mutatis mutandis applied, based on an agreement between the Philippines (then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Carlos P Romulo) with Indonesia and Malaysia in July 1977 allowing cross-border hot pursuits and a system for families to cross the borders, while Article 100 of UNCLOS empowers the Philippines to allow that arrangement to be in place.
With regards to this, the former Chief of Navy, Admiral Tan Sri Ramlan Mohamed Ali RMN, proposed in 2000 (after the first kidnappings in Sipadan) specific designated sea routes for vessels to enter Sabah, and enhancing monitoring capabilities by installing surface search radars (Project 1206) on islands off Sabah. This was proposed in a meeting with the then-Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat. This proposal would have enhanced security in Sabah, especially in areas now under the jurisdiction of the ESSCOM. However, when Chong Kah Kiat was replaced in 2003, the proposal was mostly forgotten.
Kidnapping for ransom in an area that had seen the death of several Malaysian servicemen defending the nation and later sworn to be defended from further incursions by armed Filipino men is unacceptable. Three kidnappings involving four hostages in a span of six months is disgusting. I am not sorry for standing by my opinion that the ESSCOM should not be headed by a civilian. ESSCOM, in my opinion, is not RASCOM. Although the RASCOM (Rajang Security Command) was set up by the National Security Council in 1972 to combat communist insurgency by the Kalimantan Utara People’s Party (PARAKU) chiefly in Sibu, Sarikei, Kapit and Mukah areas. There was not much cross-border incidents as the terrorists were mainly domestic, unlike in Eastern Sabah. In the ESSCOM area, the security forces struggle to deny people from the Philippines from landing in Sabah for both economic and malicious reasons. No matter how developed the ESSCOM areas may be, you will still get Filipinos who would do anything in Sabah for personal gains. The gold that can be found in Sabah is worth risking their life for, and there are tens of thousands just 50 nautical miles away who are willing to take that risk once in a while, group by group.
If you look again at the maps above, both kidnappings took place on islands very close to the mainland. This did not happen on the peripheral islands such as Mataking, Mantabuan, Boheydulang or even Timba-Timba. It is a well-known fact that our waters in Eastern Sabah are very porous in nature. I however suspect that the kidnappings were executed by people on the way back to Sibuti from either the Lahad Datu or Semporna areas.
Last month, I was in Eastern Sabah and managed to speak to a few personnel involved in guarding the islands in that area. What I noticed different this time is that even the Army no longer has its Rover RHIB interceptors stationed on the islands of Siamil and Sipadan. In the course of a week I was in that area, five fish-bombing incidents took place in Siamil alone and there was nothing the Army could do about it as they did not have a boat to pursue the perpetrators. Red tapes caused by the formation of ESSCOM has slowed down procurement processes. I was also told by senior operations people on the mainland that they are even frustrated by the Director-General of ESSCOM for rejecting the military’s need to conduct clandestine operations in Lahad Datu and Semporna to flush out suspected sleepers (as I would term them). This clearly shows the lack of understanding by the DG of ESSCOM of military operations, and certainly of creating ESSCOM without giving due respect for defining its raison d’être with clarity and utmost conviction. You cannot run an agency that fights trans-border armed intruders like a government department. You are bound to fail miserably.
As mentioned in a blog post of mine that I wrote last year, Defence-in-Depth is the method that should and must be employed in Eastern Sabah. The first layer would have to be that of Force Projection – a term used to describe a nation’s ability to project power and exert influence in the ESSCOM area. This has to be achievable and has to be sustainable in nature. Firstly, all cross-border family members need to have their boats registered and each boat is assigned with a registration number that is stored into a database that can be easily accessed by patrol crafts, surface and aerial combat units. These registration numbers must be displayed on the bow of their pump boat. They can only enter via the designated routes that Admiral Ramlan proposed back in 2002. We have many shallow reefs in that area and manned stations or posts can be built where each boat wanting to enter will have to report to first layer posts to register their intention. Once their destination is made known, they will be issued with a colour-coded pass that they need to surrender at the second-layer post which would be at their destination. The process is reversed when they want to return to the Philippines. These first layer posts should be manned by the equivalent of an infantry section with RHIB interceptors at hand to intercept violators. Each of these posts would also house surface search radars that transmits radar data to a sectoral command center. Radar picket vessels should be on station to cover the approaches to and from Eastern Sabah and should cover all 1400 kilometers stretch. This is where the two of the Principles of War come into play: the Concentration of Force, and Economy of Effort. Obviously, based on my observations at Siamil and Sipadan, the Angkatan Tugas Bersama 2 (ATB2) is ill-equipped to carry out such tasks.
Basing of assets also need to be considered. While it is good to have major surface units such as the navy’s NGPV to be on station, these vessels are limited in endurance unless supply vessels are also available to re-supply and re-fuel. These vessels need to be on-station for weeks before they can be replaced by another surface unit. Major islands along the approaches from the outer limits all the way in should also have combat helicopters stationed on them. Combat helicopters carrying two PASKAL snipers each can be airborne in under ten minutes to intercept armed intruders. Certainly in the incident early this morning, the availability of such asset would have helped prevent the kidnappers from seeking refuge in their own territory. Auxiliary ships, perhaps smaller versions of the Bunga Mas 5 and Bunga Mas 6 operated by the Navy with the assistance from MISC need to be employed in these areas to support operations.
Good intelligence is important. There is nothing as valuable as good intelligence. More often than not, even during the February 2013 incursion that led to the Ops Daulat, intelligence played an important role. The coordination of good intelligence is equally important but I was told that such a thing does not exist under ESSCOM. Valuable intelligence remain valuable only if they are acted upon in the quickest possible time, thus commanders need to have a good grasp of strategic and tactical knowledge that their Decision-Action tempo has to overcome that of the enemy they are fighting. However as it is, the soldiers on Siamil and Sipadan can only watch if intruders sail past them at a safe distance.
On land, villages that may be used as hiding places for sleepers and intruders should be relocated at new villages and that would make effective the Chief Minister’s plan to introduce curfew in high risk areas. Cutting off the locals from the intruders would also help in identifying them and distinguishing them from locals. This is the area Mentek should be concentrating on as an Immigration officer and as an act for the Sabah people – weed out the illegals.
Of course, diplomacy has to be one of the layers of defence-in-depth. In pursuant of Article 100 of UNCLOS, the Philippines must render all assistance in the repression of piracy as well as in upholding the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea (SUA) that came into force in 2005.
Ops Daulat was not the first time that we have had armed incursions. on the 25th September 1985, 21 armed intruders dressed in Army fatigues attacked Lahad Datu town at 12 noon. The Royal Malaysian Police’s patrol boats PX29 and PX16, later supported by PZ14 cornered the intruders at Mataking and decimated them. While in pursuit, the marine policemen received an order from the then-Sabah Commissioner of Police to “not allow the pirates to live.” Such was the statement of the aim, clearly defined, and that order determined the outcome of the battle.
Eastern Sabah is not just any security zone. It is a zone that faces members of battle-hardened paramilitary groups that have been fighting the Government of the Philippines since the late 1960s. Therefore, protecting this zone means having to conduct military-like operations that should be handled by professional combatants and not by civilians. If the statement of aim of the strategy is to deny incursions, then it would have to be conducted with resolve and not through half-baked approaches or emulating other security zones whose methods are peculiar only to those areas, but not in areas managed by ESSCOM.
Leave defence of the nation to the professionals!
When the government announced the formation of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), I said to myself, “About bloody time!”. I imagined security sectors formed from Kudat to Sandakan to Lahad Datu to Semporna and Tawau, mirroring what we used to have along the Malaysian-Thai border during the Communist insurgency such as Kota Alfa, Kota Bravo, Kota Charlie and Kota Delta spanning Kuala Perlis to Tumpat. The initial aim was to combat the communist guerrillas and stopping their infiltration from Southern Thailand. After the treaty in December 1989, we had elements of the Unit Pencegahan Penyeludupan (UPP) or the Anti-Smuggling Unit operating in these areas in a supporting role, to curb the smuggling of contrabands and also human trafficking.
Instead, I find it rather amusing when the Ketua Setiausaha Negara announced that Datuk Mohammad Mentek has been appointed as the Director of ESSCOM effective April 1st. What is wrong with this appointment? Mohammad Mentek is the Director of Immigration for the state of Sabah, the agency that, in my opinion, has failed badly in curbing the in-flow of illegal Filipino and Indonesian immigrants into that state.
The New Straits Times ran a story on Mohammad Mentek’s appointment and a statement by the KSN that was complemented by Mohammad’s curriculum vitae; citing even that Mohammad would be very experienced in the field of security and public order.
This April 1st appointment has to be an April’s Fool joke with an extremely bad taste. Surely the KSN should know the functions of the Immigration Department like the back of his hand. If I may provide a memory-jogger for all, the. immigration Department’s functions are:
2. Issuing of visas, passes and permits to Foreign Nationals entering Malaysia.
3. Administering and managing the movement of people at authorised entry and exit points.
4. Enforcing the Immigration Act 1959/63, Immigration Regulations 1963 and Passport Act 1966.
If you think I made the above up, read it here. How much of an expert do you think the Sabah Director of Immigration would be in the field of counter-insurgency warfare, joint-command operations and public order? Other than the pen being mightier than the sword, I doubt if the person’s handled anything more than the butter knife, let alone deploy battalions of soldiers and policemen in combat situations.
This is another example of the government missing out on a good opportunity to make things better. Obviously, the main concern when we talk about Sabah right now is its defence from foreign elements. With the heavy presence of our security forces there, we can only see illegal immigrants returning to their homeland, and not the other way round. Therefore, the government should have had a clear aim (again, quoting from the Principles of WAR) in ensuring its strategies in making Sabah more secure conform to this aim. A concept called Defence-in-Depth should have been adopted instead where the Army and Police’s General Operations Force occupy the peripheral islands off Sabah, as being done in Ops PASIR, supported by the Navy, Marine Police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. These are the front-liners that will be meeting armed militants head-on. Onshore, defence and security should be effected by the Army and Police. The Immigration Department will just stick to its supporting role, weeding out illegal immigrants.
Therefore, in my opinion, the ESSCOM should be jointly-directed by the Deputy Commander of the Army’s 1st Division, one of the deputies of the Commissioner of Police, Sabah, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s Head of Regional Enforcement for Sabah and Labuan. The reason is because they are in-charge of the combat and combat-capable units operating in this region, not the Immigration.
In conclusion, the choice of the Director of Immigration for Sabah as the Director for ESSCOM is a grave mistake. I respect the person for who he is, but if the government wants to be seen serious in protecting the Malaysians in the state of Sabah, leave the job to the professionals. Not someone who holds a Master of Science (Statistics) degree and a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) degree from the University of Minnesota, United States.