PMSCs linked with arms smuggling in SE Asian waters

Kuala Lumpur: Private maritime security companies transiting Malaysian waters need to be careful. A local newspaper claimed today that a number of PMSCs are moving weapons and ammunition onboard foreign vessels through the Southeast Asian nation without prior approval. A specific incident at Port Klang on Sunday was cited where a master of a ship was caught radioing to shore that he was storing weapons before docking.

Federal police have denied the claims.

“The police views the report seriously as it can challenge the credibility of those who are alleged to have failed in curbing activities at Port Klang where weapons belonging to merchant ships were stored,” federal police marine commander Datuk Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

“The article published in a Bahasa Malaysia daily was made based on a misinterpretation, lack of knowledge of procedures involved in the collection and safe keeping of weapons at the nation’s ports.”

Singapore and Malaysia both have mechanisms for weapons to be legally declared and secured while in port. Port/state Control liaises with respective police and if authorised, a license of sorts is issued.

“Shipowners and security companies must simply be more transparent,” Will McManus from REDfour Security Group told Splash. “Do things correctly and none of these issues would arise. Trouble is, it’s been going on for years, and no one has been arrested or charged with these offences.”

Kevin Doherty, from American security firm Nexus Consulting, told Splash, “ As private security companies wind down off Somalia and look to keep business going in Asia and Nigeria, you can expect an increase in these misunderstandings or worse, outright smuggling.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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