Malaysia moves UN for naval peacekeeping force to combat piracy


Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia has moved the United Nations Security Council with a proposal for a naval peacekeeping force to combat piracy on the high-seas, especially in the Gulf of Aden region, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced Monday.

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Razak said Foreign Minister Rais Yatim had spoken with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over telephone Saturday night about the naval force and had been told that the Security Council would discuss the matter within weeks, the Star Online said.

The deputy prime minister had raised the matter of such a force at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies’ leaders summit when discussing human and trade security.

“I told the leaders that based on Malaysia’s experience in the Straits of Malacca, the littoral states must work closely together to combat piracy.

“However, in cases where countries are incapable of doing so, the UN must take positive action,” he told reporters Sunday at the end of the two-day APEC summit in Lima, Peru.

The Malaysian move, citing its own experience in the Straits of Malacca, comes in the wake rising piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast. Despite the presence of a large flotilla of navies of several countries, two Malaysian ships were held up for several weeks.

The Indian Navy earlier this month foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack two ships – an Indian and a Saudi Arabian merchant vessel. Last week, in a battle with pirates, it sank one of the pirates’ ‘mother ships’ in the Gulf of Aden.

India has also called for a multi-nation force under the auspices of the UN to patrol the Gulf of Aden.

Razak said he suggested that an international naval force under the UN be set up that could be tailored on the lines of the land-based peacekeeping force.

The activities of the Somali pirates grabbed headlines worldwide when they recently hijacked supertanker Sirius Star loaded with over $100 million worth of Saudi crude oil.

Two vessels belonging to the Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC) had also fallen victim to the pirates and were released only after a $2 million ransom was paid. It is estimated that the pirates hijacked over 90 ships this year and had netted over $100 million in ransom.

“Malaysia is of the opinion that these pirates are a threat to global trade and any such threats must be dealt with quickly, especially in the light of the present global economic crisis,” Razak said.