Singapore: Naval patrols along the Malacca Straits and out to the South China Sea are likely to be increased to counter the soaring wave of piracy hitting the region. Senior members of the navies of the three littoral states abutting the key waterway – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – are discussing extending joint patrols to the southern reaches of the South China Sea.
The problem the trio are facing is not encroaching on waters contested by others. The South China Sea has engendered much fierce debate between nations around it in recent years over who controls what – with China increasingly alienating nations in Southeast Asia by its adamant claims to the sea.
Latest figures from the International Maritime Bureau show ships are being hijacked in Southeast Asian waters on average once a fortnight for the past 12 months, making the region by far the world’s hotspot for piracy. Small coastal tankers are most at threat. Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of all attacks since the beginning of 2015.