Singapore Says Pirates Come from Elsewhere

Singapore Hosts the 14th Malacca Straits Patrol Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting
Singapore Hosts the 14th Malacca Straits Patrol Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting

Published Feb 3, 2020 6:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Responding to questions in Parliament, Singapore's Minister for Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen has indicated that the pirates responsible for recent incidents in the Singapore Strait are not from Singapore.

Ng says the number of piracy and sea robbery incidents occurring in the Singapore Strait fluctuates considerably from year to year. For example in 2014, 2015 and 2019 there were 48, 104 and 31 such incidents. But in the remaining years over the last decade, the average was around 12. 

He says, therefore, it is difficult to determine if there is a persistent increase in incidents. “What we have determined is that the tactics and modus operandi of the perpetrators remain the same, consisting of petty crime involving the theft of crew belongings, engine parts or scrap metal. All perpetrators are based and operate outside Singapore's territorial waters, and therefore we are working with our neighbors to share information and collect intelligence.”

In 2019, the ReCAAP ISC issued five incident alerts about incidents involving ships underway in the eastbound lane of Singapore Strait. Of the 31 incidents that were reported in the Singapore Strait in 2019, 15 occurred to ships while underway in the westbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) and 16 incidents in the eastbound lane.

At the 14th Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) Joint Coordination Committee meeting in January, the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand revised the MSP Standard Operating Procedures to enhance the region's ability to tackle sea robbery in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. This included a commitment to quarterly exercises to sharpen information exchange processes as well as an updated set of suspicious contact indicators to assist investigation efforts of sea robbery incidents. 

Ng agreed with Members of Parliament that additional measures would be useful. “We want to step up deeper sharing in information and intelligence with maritime and enforcement agencies within Malaysia and Indonesia. The Maritime Security Task Force is also making plans to restructure itself, including beefing up its assets to deal with such incidents at sea. That review is expected to be complete in the next few months.”