Mereka Mengundang Bahaya Agar Kita Dapat Lena

Salah sebuah pesawat Bombardier CL-415MP dari dua buah yang dimiliki Maritim Malaysia, bersiap sedia untuk melakukan rondaan maritim malam.

Setiap hari selama lima hari dalam minggu pertama bulan Disember 2020, secara puratanya kapal Maritim Malaysia KM Malawali telah mengusir sebanyak 36 buah bot nelayan Indonesia dari perairan negeri Perak. Begitulah cabaran yang dihadapi oleh pihak Maritim Malaysia negeri Perak khususnya dalam era pandemik COVID-19 ini.

Di sebelah Barat Laut Semenanjung Malaysia pula, kemungkinan para penyeludup gunakan laluan laut untuk menyeludup masuk dan keluar barangan juga kian bertambah setelah Agensi Keselamatan Sempadan Malaysia (AKSEM) ketatkan lagi kawalan di sempadan Utara Semenanjung berikutan kejadian tembak-menembak dengan para penyeludup yang telah mengorbankan seorang anggota Pasukan Gerakan Am, Polis DiRaja Malaysia akhir bulan lepas.

Pandemik COVID-19 telah mengakibatkan pengangguran pada skala yang besar bukan sahaja di negara ini, malah juga di negara-negara jiran. Dalam bulan Ogos 2020 sahaja, seramai 2.67 juta orang pekerja di Indonesia telah hilang pekerjaan, menjadikan keseluruhan jumlah pengangguran sejak bermulanya wabak ini kepada 29.12 juta orang.

Dalam bulan yang sama, sebuah laporan yang dihasilkan bersama oleh Bank Pembangunan Asia (ADB) dan Pertubuhan Buruh Antarabangsa (ILO) menyatakan bahawa wabak COVID-19 akan menyebabkan di antara 1,117,000 dan 1,675,000 orang akan hilang pekerjaan di Bangladesh dalam tahun ini sahaja.

Perairan Malaysia bukan sahaja terbuka kepada cabaran Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI) dari kedua-dua buah negara tersebut yang ingin mencari peluang pekerjaan serta mengambil kesempatan ke atas program Rekalibrasi PATI yang diumumkan baru-baru ini, tetapi juga kepada para penjenayah serta penyeludup dari negara jiran.

Buktinya jelas apabila Maritim Malaysia Negeri Pulau Pinang berjaya menahan satu percubaan menyeludup masuk dadah jenis Methamphitamine dan Ecstasy pada jam 8.20 malam, 3 Disember 2020 baru-baru ini.

Pengarah Maritim Pulau Pinang Kepten (M) Abd Razak Mohamed berkata ini merupakan rampasan dadah terbesar di negeri Pulau Pinang tahun ini. Setelah berlakunya aksi kejar-mengejar di laut selama lebih kurang 30 minit, dua orang individu ditahan bersama sebuah bot yang dipacu dua buah enjin sangkut dengan kekuatan 500 kuasa kuda bernilai RM150,000, manakala hablur kristal dadah yang dirampas adalah di anggar seberat 240 kilogram dengan nilai anggaran sebanyak RM10.53 juta. Ini menjadikan nilai rampasan pada malam tersebut berjumlah RM10.68 juta.

Pada 1 Disember 2020, sebuah pesawat sayap kaku jenis Bombardier CL-415MP milik Maritim Malaysia telah melakukan rondaan malam di perairan Utara pantai Barat Semenanjung Malaysia. Kawasan rondaan pesawat ini yang dipandu oleh Leftenan Komander (M) Yusni bin Sari dengan dibantu oleh Leftenan Komander (M) Mohammad Azli bin Razali selaku pembantu juruterbang merangkumi perairan negeri-negeri Perlis, Kedah (termasuk Pulau Langkawi dan Pulau Perak), Pulau Pinang, dan Perak (termasuk Pulau Jarak) iaitu sebuah kawasan berkeluasan 7200 batu nautika persegi.

Rondaan seumpama ini dilakukan untuk mempertingkatkan Kesedaran Penguasaan Maritim (Maritime Domain Awareness) – atau MDA, pihak Maritim Malaysia khusunya, dan seluruh pasukan keselamatan amnya. Peningkatan MDA hanya boleh dilakukan dengan mengumpul maklumat mengenai semua jenis kapal, bot dan apa jua aktiviti maritim yang berada dalam perairan Malaysia, dan kemudiannya dirujuk bersama maklumat yang dikumpulkan oleh lain-lain agensi keselamatan, dianalisa dan dijadikan asas serta rujukan untuk operasi-operasi yang bakal dilakukan di masa hadapan.

Pengumpulan data dan maklumat serta rakaman video dan gambar-gambar dilakukan oleh Leftenan Komander (M) Mohd Hafizi bin Mohd Nor selaku Air Surveillance Operator (ASO) atau Pegawai Sistem Operasi Udara penerbangan tersebut. Dua orang anak kapal iaitu Bintara Kanan (M) Jamaludin bin Masri dan Laskar Kanan (M) Mohd Faizul bin Mat Yamme membantu pengoperasian pesawat.

Ternyata perairan Malaysia menjadi tumpuan bot nelayan asing (BNA) apabila pesawat mengesan kehadiran 43 buah BNA yang sedang rancak melakukan aktiviti penangkapan ikan lebih 8 batu nautika ke dalam perairan negeri Perak, lebih kurang 31 batu nautika ke arah Barat Laut dari Pulau Jarak. Leftenan Komander (M) Mohd Hafizi dengan segera berhubung dengan kapal ronda KM Malawali yang dinakhodai oleh Pegawai Memerintah Bertugas, Leftenan Komander (M) Fadzliana binti Fadzil, yang kemudiannya telah berkejar ke lokasi untuk tindakan pengusiran. KM Malawali telah mengiringi kumpulan BNA tersebut sehingga mereka kembali berada di dalam perairan negara mereka sendiri.

Kapal Maritim Malawali menjadi benteng utama penghindaran PATI dan lain-lain anasir di perairan negeri Perak

Walaupun merupakan para juruterbang yang amat berpengalaman, Leftenan Komander (M) Yusni dan Leftenan Komander (M) Mohammad Azli tetap berhadapan dengan risiko-risiko penerbangan malam seperti kekeliruan ruang (spatial disorientation) dan persekitaran penglihatan yang merosot (degraded visual environment) ketika membuat penerbangan waktu malam walaupun dalam keadaan cuaca penglihatan (Visual Meteorological Condition atau VMC). Ini adalah kerana amat mudah untuk terkeliru di antara kegelapan laut dan langit. Biarpun terdapat bintang-bintang di langit, namun lampu-lampu bot-bot dan kapal-kapal juga boleh mengelirukan keadaan, terutamanya apabila juruterbang perlu terbang dengan rendah seperti pada malam rondaan tersebut, iaitu sekitar 300 kaki (91 meter) dari paras laut. Hanya pengalaman dan kecekapan para juruterbang sahaja yang menjadi benteng di antara kejayaan operasi dan tragedi.

Begitu juga dengan para pegawai dan anggota Maritim Malaysia negeri Pulau Pinang dan KM Malawali yang terpaksa berhadapan dengan kemungkinan bahaya serangan balas daripada para pelaku kesalahan yang terdesak untuk meloloskan diri. Anda lihatlah sendiri aksi kejar-mengejar pada malam 3 Disember 2020 di perairan Pulau Pinang dan perhatikan sendiri bagaimana mereka sanggup membahayakan diri supaya kita dapat lena diulit mimpi.

Kejadian kejar-mengejar di antara bot penyeludup dadah dan bot Maritim Malaysia di perairan Gertak Sanggul dan Teluk Kumbar, Pulau Pinang pada 3 Disember 2020.

Maritim Malaysia: Meredah Ombak Yang Mencabar

KM Bagan Datuk – salah sebuah aset Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) yang memelihara kedaulatan negara tanpa mengira cabaran yang dihadapi

Seramai 24 orang pendatang asing tanpa izin (PATI) ditahan di Teluk Ramunia. Seorang nelayan hilang dan ditemui mati di perairan Kudat, Sabah. Belum sampai penghujung bulan, sejak 1 November 2020 hingga semalam, sebanyak 173 bot nelayan asing (BNA) dari Indonesia telah diusir oleh Maritim Malaysia negeri Perak berhampiran Pulau Jarak. Sebuah kapal Pengawal Pantai China (CCG) Zhongguo Haijing 5402 telah mengganggu sebuah kapal penggerudian minyak serta kapal-kapal bekalannya hanya 44 batu nautika dari pesisir pantai negeri Sarawak. Tiga orang anggota Pasukan Gerakan Am (PGA) Polis DiRaja Malaysia ditembak oleh kumpulan penyeludup dalam dua insiden di sempadan Thai mengakibatkan seorang anggota berpangkat Koperal maut.

Demikianlah rangkuman insiden-insiden diperbatasan yang telah dilaporkan dalam tempoh seminggu ini. Insiden-insiden ini merupakan di antara cabaran-cabaran yang dihadapi oleh agensi-agensi kerajaan terutamanya APMM dalam menentukan sempadan perairan, kedaulatan negara, serta keselamatan komuniti di laut adalah selamat.

Turut berada di perbatasan perairan negara ialah Kapal Maritim Bagan Datuk serta 29 orang anak kapalnya yang dinakhodai oleh Leftenan Komander (Maritim) Nik Mohd Rizam bin Nik Mohd Fauzi, yang meronda di Sektor 6, Selat Melaka. KM Bagan Datuk disokong oleh bot-bot pemintas dari Maritim Negeri Melaka & Negeri Sembilan. Kapal ronda generasi baru sepanjang 45 meter yang ditauliahkan pada 15 Mac 2017 bertindak sebagai kapal induk untuk operasi-operasi pemintasan yang dilakukan oleh bot-bot pemintas di sektor tersebut.

Kehadiran BNA Indonesia di perairan Pulau Jarak bukanlah sesuatu yang boleh dipandang ringan dan remeh oleh umum. Sekiranya dibiarkan atas sebab budi-bicara ataupun atas dasar jiran-tetangga, ianya boleh menjejaskan kedaulatan negara. Kita ambil contoh tuntutan Malaysia dan Singapura ke atas Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) di mana Perjanjian Inggeris-Belanda, 1824 menamatkan kerajaan Johor-Pahang-Riau-Linggi. Di bawah Perkara XII perjanjian tersebut, tidak ada satu pun pertubuhan British dibenarkan di atas pulau-pulau Karimun, Batam, Bintan, Lingga dan pulau-pulau ke selatan Singapura, manakala pulau-pulau serta batuan-batuan di dalam Selat Singapura menjadi milik kerajaan Kesultanan Johor yang baharu.

Sebuah rumah api didirikan oleh Syarikat Hindia-Timur British (HEIC) di Pulau Batu Putih dalam bulan Jun 1850 dan mula beroperasi pada 15 Oktober 1851. Ianya dioperasikan oleh Lembaga Pelabuhan Singapura yang menjadi sebahagian dari Malaysia. Namun, apabila Singapura dikeluarkan daripada Persekutuan Malaysia pada 9 Ogos 1965, tiada sebarang tindakan diambil oleh pihak kerajaan Malaysia untuk mengoperasikan rumah api tersebut.

Hanya apabila pada 21 Disember 1979 Pengarah Pemetaan Malaysia keluarkan sebuah peta yang menunjukkan Pulau Batu Putih sebagai hakmilik Malaysia, kerajaan Singapura keluarkan bantahan. Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) memutuskan walaupun Kesultanan Johor memiliki Pulau Batu Putih, Batuan Tengah dan Batuan Selatan, namun tidak ada mana-mana pihak dari Malaysia ataupun Johor mengambil sebarang tindakan untuk menunjukkan ianya mempunyai hak ke atas pulau dan batuan-batuan tersebut, termasuk mengoperasikan rumah api di Pulau Batu Putih setelah 31 Ogos 1957. Maka ICJ memutuskan bahawa Singapura mempunyai hak à titre de souverain ke atas Pulau Batu Putih manakala Batuan Tengah menjadi milik Malaysia melalui hakmilik Kesultanan Johor.

Inilah sebabnya APMM aktif menghalau BNA Indonesia, Vietnam dan China yang sengaja menguji reaksi pihak berkuasa Malaysia. Tidak mustahil jika suatu hari nanti negara-negara ini membuat tuntutan ke atas kawasan-kawasan perairan dan pulau-pulau di Malaysia sekiranya Malaysia tidak mengambil sebarang tindakan yang menunjukkan kedaulatannya ke atas kawasan-kawasan tersebut.

Masalah yang dihadapi oleh APMM pula ialah walaupun di atas kertas ia memiliki berpuluh-puluh aset dalam bentuk kapal peronda, bot-bot pemintas serta aset-aset udara, perlu difahami bahawa kapal-kapal peronda kelas Bagan Datuk inilah kapal peronda yang paling baharu dan paling canggih. Kapal-kapal peronda yang lain ada yang usianya sudah menjangkau 40 tahun dan kebanyakannya adalah jauh lebih kecil berbanding kapal-kapal peronda milik CCG. Sebuah kapal peronda kelas Bagan Datuk iaitu KM Lahad Datu serta tiga buah kapal peronda luar pesisir pantai (OPV) masih belum diserahkan kepada pihak APMM. Aset-aset udara pula hanyalah dua buah pesawat sayap kaku jenis Bombardier CL-415MP dan enam buah pesawat sayap putar jenis Eurocopter AS-365N3 Dauphin dan AgustaWestland AW139 – jauh dari jumlah yang boleh dianggap mencukupi.

Semasa kapal CCG Zhongguo Haijing 5402 mengganggu kapal penggerudi minyak serta kapal-kapal bekalan dalam kedudukan 44 batu nautika (80 kilometer) dari pesisir pantai negeri Sarawak, Malaysia telah menghantar dua buah kapal milik Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia (TLDM) iaitu Bunga Mas 5 dan KD Keris. Walaupun tindakan tersebut telah membuat kapal CCG tersebut mengalah dan berundur ke perairan Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals) namun kita belum dapat menjangkakan reaksi pihak China seterusnya.

Ini adalah kerana Malaysia tidak bertindak balas dengan menggunakan diplomasi badan kapal putih (white hull diplomacy), iaitu kapal-kapal APMM untuk menyelesaikan keadaan. Sebaliknya, Malaysia telah menghantar dua buah kapal yang mempunyai badan kapal kelabu – iaitu kapal perang tentera. Besar kemungkinan, China akan bertindak balas di masa hadapan dengan mengirim sebuah atau dua kapal perang tentera lautnya (PLA-N) untuk mengiringi kapal peronda CCG. Sekiranya China bertindak sedemikian, ia adalah kerana tindakan Malaysia menjadi punca sebab China meningkatkan tahap reaksinya.

China juga baru-baru ini telah memperolehi persetujuan kerajaan Cambodia untuk menggunakan pangkalan tentera laut Cambodia di Ream yang terletak di Telukan Thailand. Sudah tentu kapal-kapal CCG dan PLA-N dapat menggunakan pangkalan ini untuk memperolehi bekalan. Ini bermakna, selain menunjukkan kuasanya di sebelah timur Laut China Selatan di luar pesisir pantai Sabah dan Sarawak, kapal-kapal CCG dan PLA-N juga boeh mengganggu bot-bot nelayan Malaysia serta platform dan kapal-kapal penggerudian minyak di sebelah barat Laut China Selatan iaitu di luar pesisir pantai Kelantan dan Terengganu yang hanya sekitar 15 jam pelayaran dari Ream pada kelajuan 20 batu nautika sejam.

Oleh demikian, adalah penting bagi kerajaan serta rakyat Malaysia memahami peranan penting APMM sebagai sebuah agensi separa-tentera (paramilitary) sebagai kuasa pencegahan bagi kuasa asing bertindak sewenang-wenangnya di dalam perairan serta Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) kita. Penting juga bagi kita memahami kerana APMM amat memerlukan lebih banyak aset dan kelengkapan yang lebih canggih dan besar serta berkemampuan untuk berada lama di kawasan rondaan tanpa perlu diulangbekal terlalu kerap.

Cabaran menguatkuasa undang-undang maritim serta mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia juga begitu hebat di musim pandemik COVID-19. Umum tahu bagaimana penularan virus COVID-19 di atas sebuah kapal pengangkut pesawat milik Amerika Syarikat telah melumpuhkan pengoperasian kapal tersebut. Oleh sebab itu, kapal-kapal APMM juga diarahkan supaya menjalankan operasi pengusiran BNA dan bukannya penangkapan. Menurut Leftenan Komander (M) Nik Mohd Rizam arahan pengusiran tersebut bukan sahaja untuk menjauhkan para pegawai dan anggota APMM dari terjangkit virus COVID-19, malah ianya juga adalah kerana penangkapan nelayan-nelayan asing juga mungkin akan mendedahkan rakyat Malaysia kepada penularan mutasi baharu virus tersebut.

Sehubungan itu, pusat-pusat tahanan PATI di negara ini sudah penuh hinggakan kerajaan terpaksa membuka pusat-pusat tahanan PATI sementara untuk menempatkan PATI yang ditangkap di dalam negara. Malah, Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri I Dato’ Sri Dr Haji Ismail bin Haji Mohamed Said semasa menjawab pertanyaan di dalam Parlimen pada 18 November 2020 memberitahu Dewan Rakyat bahawa setakat 13 November 2020, Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia (JIM) melaporkan bahawa terdapat seramai 13, 103 orang tahanan di Depot Tahanan Imigresen (DPI) di seluruh negara berbanding kapasiti depot seramai 12,530 orang tahanan pada satu-satu masa.

JIM juga melaporkan bagi tempoh dari 1 Januari 2020 hingga 12 November 2020, seramai 89,086 orang warga asing telah diperiksa. Dari jumlah tersebut, 21,176 orang PATI telah ditangkap untuk siasatan. Sekiranya kerajaan perlu tanggung kos makanan dan minuman berjumlah RM40 sehari bagi setiap orang PATI yang ditangkap ini, maka kerajaan terpaksa membelanjakan sebanyak RM847,040 setiap hari. Proses menghantar PATI pulang ke negara asal lazimnya mengambil masa di antara tiga minggu hingga empat bulan. Maka, kerajaan membelanjakan di antara RM840 hingga RM4800 untuk membekalkan makanan dan minuman bagi setiap orang PATI. Malah, kos keseluruhan untuk menanggung PATI di DPI di seluruh negara ialah sebanyak RM3.4 juta sebulan.

Pandemik COVID-19 juga memberi kesan terhadap emosi para petugas barisan hadapan APMM. Bagi Nasul Abdul Halik yang bertugas sebagai tukang masak KM Bagan Datuk, berjauhan dengan keluarga di Satok, Sarawak sudah tentu memberi cabaran baginya. Apatah lagi beliau baru setahun bertugas dalam APMM. Penularan wabak COVID-19 di Malaysia bermakna sudah setahun beliau tidak dapat menjenguk keluarga di Sarawak. Namun seperti lain-lain anak-anak kapal KM Bagan Datuk, beliau menguatkan semangat untuk melaksanakan tugas kerana moral anak-anak kapal yang lain bergantung juga kepada kemahiran beliau memasak. Sudah tentu rasa masakan beliau perlu sedap tidak mengira sama ada beliau bersedih mahupun mabuk laut akibat cuaca buruk.

Demikianlah di antara cabaran-cabaran yang dihadapi oleh para petugas barisan hadapan kita di Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia. Biarpun cabaran datang dalam berbagai gelombang, mereka akan tetap menerima cabaran-cabaran tersebut. Namun, lebih banyak sokongan kerajaan dari segi aset, kelengkapan dan kewangan yang diperlukan oleh mereka-mereka seperti Leftenan Komander (M) Nik Mohd Rizam dan anak-anak kapal KM Bagan Datuk untuk menjalankan tugas dengan lebih berkesan dan lebih berwibawa.

Tindakan Pantas APMM Selamatkan Anak Kapal Dayang Topaz

MV Dayang Topaz, accommodation work boat milik DESB Marine Services Sdn Bhd yang dibina pada tahun 2010, mempunyai 199 tempat tidur untuk para pekerja dan anak kapal.

Pagi semalam kita dikejutkan dengan berita bahawa sebuah accommodation work boat milik DESB Marine Services Sdn Bhd, ‘MV Dayang Topaz’, telah karam dan dua orang meninggal dunia. Disyaki mooring anchor wirenya telah putus dalam keadaan laut yang bergelora serta ombak tinggi 4.5 meter mengakibatkan kapal tersebut menghentam pelantar Baram ‘B’ sebelum terbalik dan karam.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) yang telah menerima laporan daripada kapal ‘MV Sapura Constructor’ yang telah menerima isyarat kecemasan daripada ‘MV Dayang Topaz’. MRCC kemudiannya menghubungi semua kapal serta agensi-agensi tempatan dan antarabangsa yang berada berhampiran kawasan tersebut untuk memberi bantuan. Di antara aset-aset Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) yang berada di lokasi tersebut adalah KM Siagut, KM Siakap dan Bot Penggalang 23. Pada masa yang sama, MRCC juga menghubungi komuniti nelayan tempatan, syarikat-syarikat seperti PETRONAS, Shell, agensi-agensi seperti Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM), Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat Malaysia (JBPM), dan agensi antarabangsa berhampiran seperti National Search Coordination Center (NSCC) Brunei, yang telah menugaskan sebuah pesawat Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Ramai yang mungkin tidak tahu bahawa MRCC adalah pusat operasi yang ditubuhkan oleh APMM untu mengawal dan menyelaras operasi mencari dan menyelamat (MSAR) di perairan Malaysia. Berpusat di Putrajaya, MRCC ditubuhkan mengikut keperluan Mencari dan Menyelamat Udara dan Maritim Antarabangsa (IAMSAR). Berdasarkan Jilid IV IAMSAR, APMM menjadi organisasi yang bertanggung jawab terhadap semua insiden maritim. Ketua Pengarah APMM menjadi ketua perkhidmatan MSAR, manakala MRCC menjadi organisasi yang mengkoordinasi operasi dan menggerakkan segala aset untuk membantu.

Tanggung jawab yang digalas oleh APMM untuk melakukan operasi MSAR adalah amat berat memandangkan jangkauan Wilayah Mencari dan Menyelamat (MSSR) yang agak luas. Ianya merangkumi kawasan sehingga ke Kepulauan Andaman di sebelah barat Semenanjung, seluruh kawasan Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) Malaysia di sebelah timur Semenanjung, dan seluruh kawasan pantai negeri Sabah dan Sarawak serta ZEE.

Keberkesanan APMM melaksanakan tugas dan tanggung jawab MSAR bergantung kepada dua perkara utama, iaitu jenis dan jumlah aset atas permukaan laut dan udara milik APMM, dan keberkesanan sistem pengesanan kecemasan milik kapal-kapal dan bot-bot dalam wilayah tersebut. Saya difahamkan bahawa aset-aset atas permukaan laut yang dimiliki APMM ada pelbagai jenis yang dibina atau diperolehi mengikut penugasan masing-masing. Sebagai contoh, kapal peronda luar pesisir pantai (OPV) milik APMM yang diperolehi dari Jepun, ‘KM Arau’ dan ‘KM Pekan’ adalah dibina khusus untuk penugasan SAR kerana memiliki rekabentuk yang lebih stabil di kelajuan yang perlahan, manakala tiga buah OPV yang sedang dibina di Pulau Indah lebih merupakan kapal pelbagai peranan yang lebih sesuai. Kapal-kapal peronda generasi baharu (NGPC), kapal-kapal peronda laju yang diperolehi dari PDRM dan lain-lain agensi pula lebih sesuai ditugaskan di perairan pesisir pantai. Lebih banyak aset pelbagai peranan diperlukan dan bersesuaian dengan zon-zon penugasan.

Lebih banyak aset udara berkemampuan juga diperlukan, lebih-lebih lagi dalam keadaan pengoperasian pengawalan kedaulatan perairan negara dan juga tugas-tugas MSAR. Malah, aset-aset udara tersebut juga perlu boleh ditugaskan dalam pelbagai jenis cuaca dan lebih penting lagi, dilengkapi secukupnya untuk penugasan malam. Kita amat maklum dengan tragedi yang menimpa sebuah helikopter Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri milik TUDM pada 16 Oktober 1996 ketika membuat penugasan menyelamat di laut pada waktu malam berhampiran Muka Head, Pulau Pinang yang mengorbankan seramai tiga orang anak kapal manakala dua lagi terselamat.

Berbalik kepada insiden ‘MV Dayang Topaz’, hubungan kerjasama antarabangsa di antara MRCC dan NSCC Brunei telah membolehkan penugasan operasi MSAR dijalankan dengan pantas. Penggunaan Sistem Global Kecemasan Maritim dan Keselamatan (GMDSS) untuk kapal-kapal bersaiz 300 tan ke atas atau lain-lain sistem seperti Suar Radio Kecemasan Yang Menunjukkan Kedudukan (EPIRB), Pemancar Kedudukan Kecemasan (ELT) untuk bot-bot lebih kecil dan juga Suar Kedudukan Persendirian (PLB) untuk peminat aktiviti laut juga dapat membantu pihak MRCC mencari kedudukan orang atau bot dan kapal yang perlu diselamatkan dengan lebih cekap dan pantas. Inilah kenapa sistem-sistem ini penting untuk semua yang menjalankan aktiviti-aktiviti di laut.

Dan sudah tentunya pencarian dan penyelamatan mereka yang memerlukan perkhidmatan ini akan menjadi lebih mantap sekiranya APMM dibekalkan dengan aset-aset yang amat diperlukan.

Kerajaan Perlu Bersungguh Mempertahankan Kedaulatan Negara

Di antara kapal-kapal nelayan China yang ditahan di perairan Johor oleh Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) – gambar APMM/Kyodo.

Minggu lalu, Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) telah menahan sebanyak enam buah kapal nelayan China dan seramai 60 orang anak kapal di perairan negeri Johor. Keenam-enam buah kapal tersebut yang didaftarkan di Qinhuangdao, 1300km ke utara Shanghai, sedang dalam perjalanan ke perairan Mauritania di barat Afrika apabila mengalami kerosakan berhampiran Tanjung Setapa di Pengerang. Kapal-kapal tersebut ditahan kerana berlabuh dalam perairan Malaysia tanpa kebenaran.

Apa yang menarik di sini ialah keenam-enam buah kapal tersebut adalah dalam perjalanan sejauh berpuluh ribu batu nautika untuk menangkap ikan di barat benua Afrika. Menurut kajian Overseas Development Institute, China mempunyai sebanyak 16,966 buah kapal nelayan jarak jauh. Dari jumlah tersebut, sebanyak 12,490 buah beroperasi di luar perairan China yang diiktiraf antarabangsa di antara tahun 2017 dan 2018. China menguatkuasakan sempadan perairannya mengikut nine-dash line yang direkanya pada tahun 2012 yang bertentangan dengan UNCLOS.

Selain penguatkuasaan yang dilakukan oleh China Coast Guard (CCG) berkenaan sempadan perairannya, penguatkuasaan juga dibuat ke atas tempoh larangan memancing di perairan Laut China Selatan. Penguatkuasaan ke atas larangan tersebut menyaksikan pertembungan di antara nelayan Vietnam dengan CCG. Dalam sebuah kes dalam bulan Jun 2020, sebuah bot nelayan Vietnam telah dikepung dan dilanggar hingga rosak oleh kapal-kapal milik CCG. Awak-awak bot Vietnam tersebut ditahan dan disiksa serta dipaksa menandatangani sebuah dokumen yang memaksa mereka mengakui perbuatan mereka melanggar tempoh larangan menangkap ikan.

Vietnam selama ini menggunakan tindakan diplomatik untuk membantah tindakan CCG, namun penggunaan saluran diplomatik yang terlalu kerap tidak membawa sebarang makna tanpa tindakan yang lebih keras untuk mempertahankan kedaulatan perairannya hinggakan nota-nota bantahan itu dianggap retorik semata-mata serta dimomok oleh rakyat Vietnam sendiri.

Tindakan CCG menghalau bot-bot nelayan Vietnam memaksa mereka untuk belayar lebih jauh ke Selatan untuk menangkap ikan, dan ini mengakibatkan mereka sanggup menceroboh ke dalam Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) lain-lain negara termasuk Malaysia dan Indonesia. Keadaan ini menjadikan mereka lebih terdesak; maka terjadilah insiden-insiden keganasan di laut termasuk serangan ke atas bot ‘Penyelamat 7‘ milik APMM baru-baru ini yang berakhir dengan kematian seorang nelayan Vietnam.

Bukan mudah bagi sebuah agensi barisan hadapan masa aman seperti APMM untuk mengawasi dan mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia yang seluas 614.159 kilometer persegi. ZEEnya sahaja mempunyai keluasan sebanyak 453,186 kilometer persegi. Majoriti aset yang dimiliki APMM bukan sahaja lebih sesuai digunakan di kawasan laut wilayah iaitu sekitar 12 batu nautika (22 kilometer) dari garis dasar (titik purata paras air surut terendah), malah ada yang berusia lebih 60 tahun dan boleh mendatangkan bahaya kepada anak kapal sekiranya dirempuh atau terperangkap dalam ribut dan gelombang yang kuat. Aset-aset ini juga tidak mampu menandingi aset-aset CCG yang jauh lebih besar dan berkeupayaan untuk berada di kawasan rondaan lebih lama.

Penggunaan aset-aset TLDM untuk membantu mengawasi dan mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia di waktu aman juga hanyalah bersifat ‘barisan kedua.’ Penggunaan aset-aset tentera untuk membuat tugasan penguatkuasaan sebenarnya tidak langsung sesuai, malah lebih mudah untuk mencetus konflik di antara Malaysia dan negara-negara yang menceroboh. Pada bulan April 2012, sebuah kapal peronda tentera laut Filipina, ‘BRP Gregorio del Pilar‘, telah dihalang oleh dua buah kapal “penyelidikan” milik China iaitu ‘Zhonggou Haijian 75‘ dan ‘Zhonggou Haijian 84‘ daripada menahan lapan buah bot nelayan China di persekitaran Terumbu Scarborough. Ianya menjadi sebuah insiden diplomatik yang lebih sukar ditangani pada ketika itu kerana China lebih sukar untuk berkompromi kerana sebuah aset tentera telah digunakan.

Berbalik kepada 12,490 buah kapal nelayan jarak jauh milik China yang beroperasi di luar perairan China yang diiktiraf antarabangsa, kekurangan aset dan penggunaan aset-aset yang tidak bersesuaian dengan kehendak operasi sudah tentu menyukarkan APMM. Sebagai sebuah agensi separa-tentera, ianya memerlukan aset-aset yang lebih besar, lebih keupayaan tembakan untuk menguatkuasakan undang-undang yang berhubung dengan wilayah maritim negara. Kehadiran kapal-kapal nelayan yang diiringi aset-aset CCG di kawasan Gugusan Beting Raja Jarom (North Luconia Shoals), Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali (South Luconia Shoals) dan Beting Serupai (James Shoal) mencabar kewibawaan serta memberi calar kepada imej APMM.

CCG juga telah dikesan hadir mengiringi kapal-kapal nelayan China dalam perairan Indonesia di sebelah utara Kepulauan Natuna dalam bulan September 2020. Ini bermakna kita mungkin bakal menyaksikan insiden-insiden yang serupa dengan insiden yang melibatkan kapal ‘Haiyang Dizhi 8‘ milik China dengan kapal ‘West Capella‘ di barat-laut Sabah, tetapi kali ini di kawasan-kawasan carigali minyak di luar pesisir pantai timur Semenanjung pula.

Kerajaan harus membina keupayaan APMM sebagai agensi mutlak menguatkuasakan undang-undang berkaitan maritim di Malaysia. Kewujudan APMM pada dasarnya adalah untuk menyatukan kesemua 11 agensi berkaitan maritim di Malaysia. Namun, kehendak politik yang lemah masih menyebabkan peruntukan kewangan disalurkan kepada agensi-agensi yang sepatutnya tidak lagi melakukan penguatkuasaan undang-undang maritim. Ini adalah di antara sebab APMM bukan sahaja tidak mendapat peruntukan yang diperlukan, malah dianggap setara dengan agensi-agensi yang ia sepatutnya gantikan. Walhal, dalam apa jua keadaan yang melibatkan segala jenis insiden di laut, baik pencerobohan nelayan Kelas C dalam zon Kelas A, penyeludupan rokok dari negara jiran, penyekatan kemasukan Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI) kesemuanya diletakkan oleh persepsi masyarakat di atas bahu APMM dan bukannya 11 agensi tersebut.

Selain aset-aset yang berpatutan, berkeupayaan dan bersesuaian, Malaysia juga harus gunakan pendekatan diplomatik untuk membawa usul supaya UNCLOS memberi takrif mutlak dan spesifik terhadap gugusan-gugusan pulau dan terumbu seperti yang berada di Laut China Selatan agar lebih mudah untuk keputusan-keputusan International Tribunal for the Laws of the Sea (ITLOS) dikuatkuasakan. Mungkin tidak keterlaluan juga dicadangkan, dalam ketiadaan suatu badan perjanjian seperti NATO, supaya Malaysia, Filipina, Vietnam dan Indonesia membuat satu gabungan agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan maritim untuk berhadapan dengan ancaman pihak China, disamping mengadakan perjanjian-perjanjian serupa dengan Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Authority, tetapi untuk perikanan. Ianya lebih bermakna berbanding tunduk kepada kehendak China untuk mengiktiraf kedaulatan China di ZEE Malaysia.

Amatlah diharap agar Kementerian Kewangan dapat meluluskan peruntukan yang dimohon oleh pihak APMM demi maruah dan imej negara semasa pembentangan bajet tidak lama lagi.

MMEA’s Baptism of Fire

The two Vietnamese fishing vessels that had attacked the MMEA’s patrol craft

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) recently experienced its baptism of fire literally when one of its patrol craft came under attack from Vietnamese fishermen on board two fishing vessels. Early today, an Indonesian smuggler was shot dead in a scuffle with an MMEA personnel.

Incident with the Vietnamese fishermen

The incident involving the Vietnamese fishermen occured some 81 nautical miles from Tok Bali, Kelantan, inside the Malaysian Maritime Zone. This is equivalent to the distance where most of our offshore drilling platforms are located – 150 kilometers from the mouth of the Tok Bali river.. It also means that the Vietnamese fishing vessels were most definitely far from their own waters. They are known to have gone as far south as the Indonesian Natuna islands and have recently rammed several boats from the Indonesian Department of Fisheries to avoid being detained.

Not only that, towards the end of April of last year, two Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels rammed an Indonesian navy vessel in order to stop the latter from detaining several Vietnamese fishing vessels.

In the previous Sunday’s incident, they waited for the seven-men crew of the ‘Penyelamat 7’ to come close to their vessel before ramming their boat, throwing objects including iron blocks, wrenches, sharpened iron rods, cooking gas tank and others at the boat and crew. They have also prepared diesel bombs in several barrels on board their vessel which they threw at the boat with the intention of destroying it and its crew. In defence, the crew fired several warning shots to deter the crew of the fishing vessel from intentionally hindering the enforcement from boarding and inspecting. Still, they did not stop. The consequence, unfortunately, is in the form of a dead Vietnamese fisherman.

Incident with Indonesian smugglers

Near Tanjung Sedili early today, the MMEA foiled an attempt to smuggle exotic birds, the White-Rumped Shama and the Magpie Robin, by Indonesian smugglers using two fibreglass speedboats. The MMEA managed to stop the first boat and detained three Indonesian men aged between 40 to 62 and discovered about 90 cages filled with the birds mentioned.

A second boat arrived unaware that the first boat had been detained. An MMEA personnel jumped on board in an attempt to stop it. The boatman accelerated away in a dangerous manner where he tried to ram the MMEA patrol boat. A struggle ensued between the boatman and the enforcement officer where the former had tried to seize the latter’s weapon. Warning shots were fired by the other enforcement officers but this too was ignored, and a decision was made to use reasonable force to stop the smugglers from harming the enforcement officer on board their boat. A shot was fired and one of the smugglers was hit, and later pronounced dead on arrival at the Tanjung Sedili Medical Centre.

Formation of the MMEA

The men of the MMEA were just doing their job under but not limited to Section 7(2)(b) and Section 7(2)(d) of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Act, 2004 which allows them to board any vessel with the purpose of inspecting and searching, and investigate any offence that is being committed, or about to be committed, or has been committed. The 19 Vietnamese fishermen as well as the Indonesian smugglers that have been detained are now being investigated especially under Sections 307 and/or 186 of the Penal Code for the attempt to murder and for obstructing public servants from carrying out their duties.

The formation of the MMEA was mooted in 1999 and tabling of the MMEA bill was made in Parliament in 2004. Prior to its formation, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was managed in a sectoral manner by 11 government agencies and departments, involving 5,000 personnel and more than 400 vessels of all types. A singular and dedicated approach was required, leaning towards the roles of a coast guard, as both an enforcement agency as well as combatant in times of war – in other words, it is a paramilitary body. It in not any different than the Royal Malaysian Police’s General Operations Force (PGA). But unlike the police, the MMEA has the power to investigate and prosecute.

The MMEA acquired hand-me-down assets from the various marine departments and agencies, some of which are already in their 60s. Although procurements of new vessels have been made, the bulk of vessels patrolling our waters are more than 30 years old. Not only that, the numbers are not sufficient to cover the operations. Larger but older vessels need regular maintenance for them to be able to operate continually. Hence, smaller boats that are not meant for long-distance patrols and have no on-station endurance have to be employed.

In Dire Need of Newer and Suitable Assets

It was probably based on this knowledge that the fishing vessels involved in the recent incident were armed with improvised weapons meant to cause the destruction of these smaller patrol boats. Imagine what would have happened to the brave crew of the 20-meter Penyelamat 7 had their boat sunk that day. Desperate to not lose their livelihood if caught, these fishermen would do anything at all to avoid arrest. In April 1993, a Royal Malaysian Navy personnel whom had boarded a fishing vessel off Pulau Kapas in Terengganu was kidnapped, possibly after being overpowered, and was never found. I was made to understand that this almost happened to the men of the MMEA.

We need to understand that these fishing vessels work in packs of several vessels per pack. The MMEA would have to spread itself really thin to follow these packs. When a boarding party has successfully boarded a vessel, the MMEA patrol boat will then go after the other boat. Now imagine this: each fishing vessel is crewed by about ten men. Each Penyelamat-class boat has a crew of about eight. How many MMEA personnel can be put on each fishing vessel safely if they are not to be overpowered, and if there are three or four fishing vessels in a pack? In the case of the Penyelamat 7, it would have taken two hours and 40 minutes for another fast MMEA boat travelling at a speed of 30 knots to get to their location. In those two hours and 40 minutes, they would have to rely on sheer guts and luck to stay safe while facing 40 desperate and determined men.

Therefore, it is imperative that the government equip the MMEA with more purpose-built assets which are newer, larger and faster, to replace the current older ones as well as boats that are not built for long-range patrols. As its name suggests, the Penyelamat 7 was built for search-and-rescue operations, not enforcement. The MMEA would also be needing mobile floating bases – perhaps converted merchant vessels that can house extra crew, the Special Task and Rescue (STAR) team with a helicopter and fast Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats to act as a logistics ship for the MMEA patrol vessels as well as back ups for its patrol vessels. This way, patrol vessels will have a longer range and patrol endurance to intercept the packs.

Faster and capable patrol boats also need to be acquired for anti-piracy and anti-smuggling operations especially in the Johor waters and the Strait of Melaka.

The Vietnamese fishing fleets are known to be accompanied by a ‘mothership’ so that they can fish far from their waters, while the Indonesia smugglers and pirates are only a short hop away, able to carry out hit-and-run raids quickly if left unchecked. It is about time the government becomes serious about the matter and better equip the MMEA as any paramilitary force should be equipped.

Don’t Be Jumud, Jomo

I read with amusement a recent article posted on an Opposition-leaning news portal how Jomo Kwame Sundaram’s answer to address a ballooning debt is by cutting the Prime Minister’s Office’s spending, and also to reduce the number of mega-projects.

Jomo, who is Visiting Senior Fellow at Khazanah Research Institute, said that what Malaysia needs now is more appropriate development expenditure, not yet more operating expenditure, especially for the PMO, which has grown more than tenfold and has centralised power like never before.

According to the article, the PMO was allocated RM17.43 billion in Budget 2018, almost double the RM8.938 billion it received in 2008.

The Prime Minister’s Office or the Prime Minister’s Department?

The Visiting Fellow at Khazanah Research Institute apparently finds it difficult to distinguish between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Department.

According to Budget 2018, RM17.43 billion was allocated to the Prime Minister’s Department, and not the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister’s Office is only one of 56 agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department.

I don’t know what was Jomo also trying to imply by saying that the PMO has more centralised power like never before.

Since the budget is for the PMD and not the PMO, the centralised power and authority to spend the budget comes under the Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia, who is appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

Major agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department include the 7,000-strong Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the 3,000-strong Civil Defence Force as well as the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM).

All these agencies have been tasked to look after our security and well-being.

In 2008, there was no MMEA nor was there the ESSCOM.

The MMEA, for example, has since added more capable blue-water assets to replace its ageing heritage assets handed down from other agencies such as the Royal Customs Department, Royal Malaysian Police, Royal Malaysian Navy and the Fisheries Department.

The heritage assets’ average age was 30 years old and consisted mainly of coastal and brown-water assets.

ESSCOM has also added more assets such as surface-search radar, build installations for security units to operate from, to combat border incursions by illegal immigrants as well as by terrorist groups.

The Malaysian Civil Defence Force, or Angkatan Pertahanan Awam Malaysia (APM), has gone on a massive recruitment drive and assets procurement.

With a permanent force of only 3,000 there is not enough of them to go around in the case of an emergency or disaster.

It was reported that in Kuala Kangsar, there is only one permanent APM staff who is the ambulance driver when responding to an accident or other emergency medical cases, and is also the coxswain for the rescue boat when there are floods.

Surely the men and women of the agencies I mentioned above also deserve a raise when due.

Then there is of course, the Parliament.

The budget for Parliament also comes under the Prime Minister’s Department, in case Jomo is not aware of that.

Operating costs, staffing costs, allowances and pensions for current and former members of Parliament come from the Prime Minister’s Department.

So, when your MP walks out of a debate or does not attend bills voting sessions, don’t ask why is the government spending unnecessarily.

Ask why is the government paying for your lazy MP. Ask also why was your MP a one-term MP, and why is there so many one-term MPs especially from the Opposition.

And please also ask why is the government still spending on the secretariats of two former Prime Ministers – one who made so much noise when the government reduced the budget allocated for his staff, while he goes around running down the current government as well as the country.

Debts? Can’t We Pay?

Jomo, described as a prominent economist in the article, also mentioned about the fast-rising government debt which is now hitting almost RM700 billion (USD178 billion).

He said that the mega-projects that are now being constructed have added to the burden of debt that Malaysia has to shoulder.

While it is true that our debt is actually at RM687 billion, domestic debt is at RM492 billion (or 72 percent of total debt) while external debt is at RM195 billion (28 percent).

Our International reserves stand at RM417 billion.  I am looking at the latest report issued last week by the Bank Negara Malaysia.

But you do not just look at debt to know how we are performing economically.

Our debt to GDP ratio is at 53.2 percent, down from 54.5 percent the previous year, year-on-year.

So Jomo is off the target when he said the government is not addressing its debt issue.

Market consensus of our GDP expansion was at 5.4 percent.  Yet, it was at 6.2 percent year-on-year in September 2017, making our economy one of the most robust expanding economy.

Private consumption increased by 7.2 percent in the same reporting period where Malaysian spend mostly on food, communication, housing and facilities.

So how is that possible if the economy is not doing well?  Our exports grew by 12 percent; manufacturing sector rose 7 percent; services rose 6.6 percent; construction 6.1 percent.

At 53.2 percent debt to GDP ratio, it means that the government is still able to pay off its debts.

As a comparison, Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is 250 percent; the US is at 106 percent; France is at 96 percent while the UK is at 89 percent.

Among ASEAN nations, Singapore has the highest debt to GDP ratio which is at 112 percent.  Any country that has its debt to GDP ratio exceeding 100 percent means that it has debts more than it could make money.

But do we hear anyone from the countries mentioned above complain?

Epilogue

Every day we hear of ill-informed Malaysians complaining that our country is in such huge debt that the country will soon be in ruins.

Selective statements by the likes of Jomo is not helping the situation. And it certainly does not help especially when his statement was intentionally directed at the Prime Minister’s Office, and not the Prime Minister’s Department where the budget was given.

Perhaps, it was malice on his part to intentionally and falsely painting the wrong picture, to make the Prime Minister look bad.

Or perhaps it was the editor of the said portal who spun Jomo’s statement to make it look as if Jomo implied that it was the PMO instead of the PMD.

Either way, Jomo’s intentional or unintentional non-mention of the debt-to-GDP ratio shows the bad blood he has with the Najib administration.

A true economist would give the WHOLE picture.

Jomo is not.

(This article was first published by The Mole)

Defence: Airbus C295 Another Possible Platform For Malaysia’s MPA

Even before the incident involving the crash of a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Beechcraft Super King Air B200T Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) talks were rife in the industry about the limited capabilities the T200 could offer as an effective MPA and possible replacements.

The four, four-man crew aircraft in the RMAF’s inventory  complementing the C-130MP in performing the MPA role but subsequently replaced the latter due to operational costs versus mission requirements.

RMAF Beechcraft Super King Air B200T MPA

The B200T, however, has a limited endurance of four hours, maximum cruise speed of approximately 300 knots (540 km/h) which makes its on-station loiter time somewhat limited unless the aircraft is deployed on a detachment which means logistics support have to be deployed as well.  In the long run it would be uneconomical for the RMAF to run such missions.

Malaysian has recently expressed interest in second-hand Lockheed/Kawasaki P-3C Orion of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) which are being replaced by the Kawasaki P-1 MPA. Although the RMAF is understandably weary of “hand-me-down” aircraft, the ready-to-fly P-3Cs offer an attractive opportunity to close the maritime patrol gap with hardly much that is needed to be done.  The P-3Cs have internal bays for torpedoes and depth-charges plus ten hardpoints on the wings for anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and mines.

The downside is that the last P-3C Orion to be delivered to the JMSDF by Kawasaki was on 1 February 2000, making the aircraft offered to the RMAF 17 years old or more!  The last aircraft delivered by Lockheed was in December 1994. The four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines, although giving more speed, could only give a maximum range of 3,835 kilometers, which is only 700 kilometers more than the B200T, making the P-3Cs true gas-guzzlers. In December 2008, the US Navy had to ground 39 P-3Cs or 1/4 of its fleet due to age-related wing cracks. The average age of the Orions then were 28 years old.  17-year old P-3Cs have less than 15 years to offer to the RMAF unless an expensive service-life extension program is initiated for the fleet.

If acquired, the P-3Cs would be flying mainly RMAF’s anti-shipping missions.  These missions would require the aircraft to fly near wave-cap levels where the engines not only burn more fuel, but also be demanding on both the crew and the aging airframe.

JMSDF P-3C Orion (courtesy of Today’s Atsugi)

The RMAF’s need for a reliable platform that would be able to perform largely anti-shipping missions and has a reasonable but economical loiter endurance with some strike capability if required drove Airbus Defence and Space to fly the Asian route while delivering an Airbus C-295 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft to Brazil.

The aircraft, which is in a Search-and-Rescue configuration, made its stop in Malaysia late on Friday evening after Thailand and Vietnam.

The Airbus C-295 of the Força Aérea Brasileira arrived at the Subang airbase on Friday 7 July 2017

Airbus Defence and Space’s marketing director Fernando Ciara explained that Airbus had decided to fly the Asian route through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, North America, Mexico before delivering the aircraft to the Força Aérea Brasileira to showcase a platform that not only would be suitable for the SAR/MPA/ASW roles but would be friendlier for aircrews to transition to given that most of the countries mentioned, especially to Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are already operating either the C-295 or CN-235 aircraft, while Canada has been authorised to purchase the C-295.

Fernando Ciara, Airbus Defence and Space marketing director explaining the capabilities of the C-295

The commonality between the C-295 and the CN-235 also potentially leads to  even lower operating costs.  Ciara added that given the versatile cabin configuration that allows fast switching of mission types, high manouvrability, better low-level flying capabilities given the high-wing configuration and a wide rear ramp, the C-295 makes the best option for maritime patrol and surveillance as well as anti-submarine warfare missions in Malaysia.

The C-295 is powered by twin PW127G turboprop engines driving Hamilton Sundstrand Type 568F-5 six bladed propellers which provide outstanding hot and high performance, low fuel consumption, and an endurance exceeding 11 hours.  Flying at a maximum speed of 480 km/h which is slower than the P-3C’s speed of 760 km/h and the B200T’s 540 km/h, but has a range of 5,600 kilometers compared to the P-3C’s 3,800 kilometer range and the B200T’s 3,100 kilometer range.

This first of two SAR aircraft will be delivered to the 2º/10º GAv (2nd Squadron of the 10th Aviation Group) of the Força Aérea Brasileira at Campo Grande, Brazil

The anti-submarine warfare version, which is already in service with one operator, is equipped with underwing stations to carry weapons and other stores.

The Brazilian SAR C-295 carries the Elta EL/M-2022A(V)3 surface-search radar

The C-295 makes strategic and economical sense for Malaysia as it allows operators to narrow down its aircraft types and suppliers, making logistical and technical support easier.

Malaysia is Airbus’ third largest market in Asia, after China and India.  Today there are 125 Airbus commercial aircraft flying with Malaysia’s airlines, with another 470 on order for future delivery.

200 Airbus helicopters are also being operated in Malaysia including the H225M and AS555SN flown by the Malaysian Armed Forces, and the AS365 in service with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

In addition to the CN235s, the RMAF is Airbus’s first export customer for the new generation A400M airlifter and has four aircraft in service.

There Is Honour In Honorary

A friend sent me the above article written by a former senior Armed Forces officer on the subject of “honorary” ranks.  I have taken the liberty to share the article below:

As long as I can remember and it is important that we consider this, the only other persons outside the military who donned military uniform were our royalty (the Raja Raja) in their capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the various Corps that made up our armed forces that included the navy and air force. It is largely a ceremonial position that is a common feature in several Commonwealth armies.

However, our country is unique. We have nine Raja Raja who in order of seniority act as patron to the corresponding senior unit they are assigned. It is more or less a permanent inherited position that is, a well-respected custom that remains unchanged to this day.

Military officers whether serving or retired are very proud of our uniform, ranks and military accoutrements. The king, who is also our commander-in-chief, by way of a formal document commissions us. We undergo rigorous training at the various officers training academies domestic and foreign to be commissioned as second lieutenants (one pip) as our initial rank.

It is a long and arduous journey as we progress through a maze of military requirements that consists of passing promotion examinations and career courses to earn a higher rank. Few ever qualify for the rank of general of various grades but as professional soldiers we serve our country and navigate the complex eco system of military service to excel professionally.

Those who served during the height of the Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation as front line troops bore the full brunt of those conflicts. Many of our comrades were maimed and others made the ultimate sacrifice. Thus the weight of history is borne by all who wear the military uniform, and whatever exclusivity it brings is defined by those who served and continue to serve our “tanah air.”

As military officers, we are very concerned that of late, politicians have begun dispensing “commission ranks” — colonels, generals and captains (navy) — among themselves which also extends to other celebrities such as singers, actors, sportsmen and social activists. None of these people have ever fired a shot in defence of the realm or done a day of military training.

Some even proudly display the converted Parachute Badge commonly referred as “Jump Wings” without doing a single jump. There are also cases where certain individuals have the audacity to don the converted maroon beret of our commando units. We adhere to the belief and convention that no one other than the Raja Raja have the right to this honour.

I think it is time we put a stop to these so-called honorary ranks and unauthorised use of military accoutrements. If there is a need for such ranks to be handed out then those chosen need to at least pass basic military training before even being considered for such an honour.

Otherwise, those “rewarded” dishonour the service of men and women, who have actually earned their ranks in the process of serving their king and country.

And lastly I would like to add that of late that large number of non military organisations have all gone “al military/police” by wearing military type ranks, insignias and camouflage uniform to the boot. Let’s keep the ranks of lieutenant, captain, major, colonel etc strictly for the military only.

The top echelon of these organisations have also chosen to wear the cross swords/kris an insignia normally reserved for our top generals and very senior police officers. By doing so they not only confuse the public but our soldiers and policemen as to their standing in protocol.

The country should have only two recognised institutions known as the uniformed service that’s the army and the police.

It’s about time our authorities do something about by having proper guidelines to this effect.

I am puzzled that a retired senior Armed Forces officer does not know that the provision for Honorary commissions exists in the Armed Forces Act, 1972.  I first came across this provision when I studied the Act for the Military Law subject during my Officer Cadet days.

Under Section 8 of the Act it says:

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may grant honorary commissions in the regular forces to such persons as he may think fit.

Honorary Colonels (Navy Captains), for example, are given to civilians whose position in his or her organisation commands assets of strategic importance to the Malaysian Armed Forces, such as the Malayan Railway, ports authorities, the MISC, TNB, Telekom etc., etc., and honorary ranks go down all the way to Honorary Captains (Navy Lieutenants).  The lower ranks include esteemed sportsmen and sportswomen and individuals whose charisma and value to the society would be valuable to the service they are commissioned into, such as to inspire the men and women of the service, to act as a bridge between the service and related civilian agencies, and also to promote the service in public relations exercises.

They are all given the honorary commission of the respective service’s volunteer reserve force.

Therefore you get sportsmen and sportswomen such as Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nichol David who have been commissioned into the Navy and Air Force respectively.  You have Dato Irmohizam Ibrahim, the Member of Parliament for Kuala Selangor who has been commissioned into the Navy.  He was selected for the honorary commission by virtue that he is the Chairman of the Lembaga Kemajuan Perikanan Malaysia and has been actively involved in promoting the Navy’s RAKAM (Rakan Maritim) initiative for the fishing community.

Why is this a big thing? Richie McCaw, the former New Zealand’s All Blacks Captain was made Honorary Wing Commander (Lieutenant Colonel equivalent) of the Royal New Zealand Air Force!

The Indian Air Force gave honorary Group Captain (Colonel equivalent) to Sachin Tendulkar, India’s cricket team captain.

These individuals are commissioned as honorary officers in the volunteer forces of the three services of the Armed Forces. These officers do not need to fire any gun as they do not have command status.  However, if there is a request and the command of the service the honorary officer is commissioned into, it would be at the expense of the honorary officer him/herself.

Nor do they get any remuneration from the Armed Forces except for the one-off RM1,000 for them to make their uniform and buy the accessories.  They are also not subjected to the Armed Forces Act and neither are they given a service number.

And it is not up to politicians to hand out ranks.  The commission is given by the Yang DiPertuan Agong on the advice of the Armed Forces Council which comprises of the Minister of Defence, a representative of the Rulers appointed by the Rulers Institution, the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, the Armed Forces Chief, the Chief of the Services, and two other members appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

The Colonels-in-Chief and Captain-in-Chief of the respective Corps or Service would have a say on the Honorary commission to be awarded by the corps or service they preside over.  For example, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor as the Captain-in-Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy has set the number of honorary commissioned officers at 50.  Therefore, the Chief of Navy has to carefully select the individuals the Navy believes to be worthy of such commission.

No wings are given out to these honorary officers unless they have such qualification.  There are cases where former servicemen have been given honorary commission for the role they play in bridging the society and the armed forces, such as Datuk Huan Cheng Guan, who was an other rank in the Royal Malaysian Air Force.  He received an honorary commission for his tireless effort in bridging the society with the armed forces.

If Datuk Huan had a jump wing when he was serving, there is no reason for him not to don the wing if he wears the uniform of an honorary officer.

If Khairy Jamaluddin is the one that is being referred to, then let it be known that he is an active reservist and had undergone basic parachute training and therefore deserves to don the wing on his uniform.  He is also a Brigadier General in the Askar Wataniah.

MS Dhoni, another captain of India’s cricket team was not only given an honorary Lieutenant Colonel but also the jump wings of India’s Parachute Regiment, the regiment he was commissioned into honorarily.

Just like in India, it is customary for any commander of any regiment, corps or service to award honorary jump or pilot’s wings to any individual that they see fit.

As for civilian organisations that have ranks similar to the military and police, I can see several that have that kind of rank.  The Angkatan Pertahanan Awam is Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force and plays a role during wartime in assisting in the defence of the country.  Therefore, it deserves the ranks.  Oddly, it uses military ranks up to Colonel and then use police ranks for star officers.

RELA uses civilian ranks akin to the police because they come from the same Ministry and RELA acts as a support organisation to maintain public order, security and safety.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), although a civilian organisation but like the police it is an armed service.  Its Director-General is appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong and plays the role of a paramilitary force at sea maintaining our sovereignty.  I see nothing wrong with them using Navy-like ranks because of the huge role that they play.

The MMEA is not like UK’s Coast Guard which is a purely search-and-rescue outfit, while the MMEA does law enforcement, maritime border control as well as search-and-rescue.

Perhaps, Lt Col Mohd Idris should also know that the Salvation Army uses military ranks and even have military training academies and corps.  However, I have yet to see anyone complain in the newspapers over such petty issue.

Therefore, why should we complain over something that is completely legal and is awarded by the Rulers?

Defence: LIMA Must Be Industry-Driven

Condensation forms over the leading edges of an RMAF F/A-18D Hornet as it makes a high-speed maneuver

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

His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor visiting one of the exhibition booths

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.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin and YB Khairy Jamaluddin at the Defence Dialogue and Press Conference TN50 during LIMA ’17

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.

OPPORTUNITIES

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.

MOVING FORWARD

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: LIMA ’17 Roars In Langkawi

Three RMAF Airbus A400M aircraft perform a fly pass at the LIMA ’17 exhibition

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.

Dato’ Sri Najib Razak visiting one of the booths at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Center in Langkawi after the opening of LIMA ’17

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 ATR 72MP is a multirole Maritime Patrol, Electronic Surveillance and C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) aircraft with very affordable costs, developed and built by Leonardo’s Aircraft Division from the platform of the modern ATR 72-600 regional turboprop (pic courtesy of Leonardo Company)

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.

AirAsia’s Airbus A320neo (pic courtesy of Economy Traveller)

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.

Malaysia Minister of Defence, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, meets with representatives from five countries to discuss asymmetrical threats by Da’esh

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.

The RoKAF Black Eagles performing the “Bomb Burst” formation over Langkawi

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.

Sukhoi Su-30 pilots from the Russian Knights and the RMAF’s No.11 Squadron pose together

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.

Demonstration by the Royal Malaysian Navy’s special forces, the Marine Operations Force of the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Marine Department performs a demonstration

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