ZAMBOANGA CITY: Malaysia has proposed joint maritime patrols and aerial surveillance with the Philippines and Indonesia in the Sulu Sea at the border of Sabah amid a rash of kidnappings, reports said.
Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia will tackle the piracy and kidnapping problems in the Sulu Sea with his Philippine and Indonesian counterparts — Voltaire Gazmin and Ryamizard Ryacudu — according to the Malay Mail.
The same approach was also initiated by Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to address piracy in the Strait of Melaka.
“It is time the same approach is taken to ensure safety in the Sulu Sea as kidnappings are on the rise in the sea, it not only affects Malaysia, but also the neighboring countries,” Hishammuddin told reporters over the weekend at the sidelines of a sports festival in Johor’s Kluang district.
There was no immediate statement from Manila on the proposal but the Philippines signed border patrol agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1990s.
Abu Sayyaf rebels recently kidnapped Malaysian and Indonesian sailors in Sabah and in the waters of Tawi-Tawi province.
On March 26, Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnapped 10 Indonesian crew of the tugboat Brahma 12 off Tawi-Tawi. On April 2, Abu Sayyaf bandits snatched four Malaysian crew of tugboat MasFive 6 in Semporna. On April 8, the jihadist group released a photo of the Malaysian hostages –Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21.
On April 15, the group again attacked, abducting four Indonesian sailors near the Sabah border.
Since 2000, the Abu Sayyaf has intruded into Sabah and kidnapped dozens of European tourists.
The group is also holding Dutchman Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad — who were all seized from the posh resort of Samal Island in Davao del Norte province; and Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito. The Abu Sayyaf demanded P21 million each for the Canadians and Norwegian and threatened to kill them if ransoms are not paid by their family and governments on April 25.