Most pirate attacks occur in Indonesian waters

With worldwide piracy numbers rising, Indonesia’s 44 cases show up its authorities’ inability to tackle problem.

THE highest number of piracy attacks and attempted boardings continues to be reported in Indonesian waters, with 44 cases recorded for the first six months of tbhe year by the international Piracy Reporting Centre.

The centre, part of the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau, said attacks continued to rise, with a total of 171 incidents worldwide in the first half of the year. This compares with 165 attacks in the same period last year.

Indonesia tops the current list, followed by India with 12 reported attacks, and Bangladesh with 11.

The centre said there were fewer incidents in the Straits of Malacca – nine cases compared to 14 last year – and praised cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia, saying joint patrols would reduce piracy and robbery.

But security and other observers in Indonesia say the prevalence of incidents can be attributed to a weak navy, corruption and rivalry between the police and the navy over jurisdiction.

Indonesia’s navy is unable to do more because its ships ‘are not up to the mark’. At a time when capabilities are being expanded across the region, the navy is saddled with ageing vessels among its 113-strong fleet, and obsolete weapons.

‘One key reason piracy continues to be high is that our navy is too weak to carry out enforcement. How do you expect them to challenge pirates who might be better armed than they are?’ said military analyst Kusnanto Anggoro of Jakarta’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. He believes there is a reluctance among some officers to tackle the matter because of confusion over how to deal with pirates.

‘The police are supposed to have full jurisdiction. The navy prefers if it gets a large share of that jurisdiction,’ Mr Kusnanto said.

‘Why? Jurisdiction is territory. Territory means authority and authority means resources and money. That is the bottom line.’

Rivalry also explains why pirates are almost never caught. Those who are may be released for a ‘share of the spoils’. But senior officers dispute the report and describe it as ‘grossly exaggerated’.

Rear-Admiral Djoko Sumaryono, whose Western Fleet oversees the Malacca Straits, said international bodies should check with the navy for ‘the full picture’.

The reporting centre cited incidents in Indonesia, including a May 12 attack on Singapore container ship Kota Bintang, and an April attack on Indonesian passenger ship MV Oyo Star near Ambon in which four passengers were killed.

In a recent case, a Malaysian fishing vessel was attacked and hijacked in the Malacca Straits on June 1. The ship and five crew members were taken to Indonesia and their whereabouts and safety remain unknown.

Actual and attempted cases of piracy in the report are based on submissions by government officials and ship owners.

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