Australia, Japan and the United States on Monday (07/09) urged China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, to finalize a South China Sea code of conduct and said the document should be legally binding. (Reuters Photo/Ritchie B. Tongo)

Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines to Start Joint Patrols in the Sulu Sea


MARCH 16, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine authorities will start joint patrols on the Sulu Sea next month to end the years of lawlessness in its waters.

Malaysian Navy chief Adm. Ahmad Kamarulzaman said on Tuesday (14/03) that the partnership shows the level of trust between the three governments.

"We first discussed it a year ago and now, we are looking at launching our first joint operation from Sandakan [in the Malaysian state of Sabah] sometime next month," Kamarulzaman told Singaporean Channel News Asia.

"This is unique in the sense that not very often can you achieve this level of consensus, showing that all sides are serious in mitigating the challenges at sea especially due to kidnap for ransom and other cross-border crime," he added.

According to Kamarulzaman, the initiative in the Sulu Sea will involve maritime patrols and air patrols of the waters and coastline. The partnership is designed after the current multilateral patrols in the Strait of Malacca that have successfully reduced the number of piracy and kidnapping cases to almost zero.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has also given Malaysia and Indonesia the green light to pursue militant boats in Philippine waters.

The Sulu Sea, between Sabah and South Philippines, has been known to security experts as the "wild, wild east," where militant groups such as Abu Sayyaf terrorize the region.