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Malaysia's DPM says Straits of Malacca is significantly safer












Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at the opening of a Centre for the Straits of Malacca.



KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak says the Straits of Malacca is significantly safer.

He revealed that there has not been a single reported security related incident so far in 2008, compared to 75 cases in 2000.

He was speaking at the opening of a Centre for the Straits of Malacca set up by the Maritime Institute of Malaysia.

Traffic along the Straits of Malacca has increased by nearly 40 per cent from some 44,000 vessels in 1999 to 70,700 in 2007.

Mr Najib Razak believes that by 2015, the figure will go up to 120,000 vessels.

He says that over the past few years, Malaysia has spent millions of dollars to install and upgrade navigational aids along the Straits of Malacca. Mr Najib added that for a small country, the money spent is well worth it, especially when it involves enhancing the safety and security of an important sea line of communications

One reason for the increased security, says Mr Najib, is cooperation between the littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and the international maritime organisation.

It has resulted in the implementation of several systems for precision navigation and emergency response.

Mr Najib said, "I understand other systems being planned include the proposed marine electronic highway which will lead to the integration of current maritime safety technologies with the marine environment management and protection systems. Seamless integration is necessary without prejudicing sovereignty of nations."

While Mr Najib feels there is a limit to what Malaysia can afford for this purpose given the long-term financial implications, the country's overall national security and defence is a different matter.

He said, "Defence and security related projects cannot be measured in terms of purely on the basis of economic yardstick."

This is a clear signal of the Malaysian government's stand, when reviewing its spending on major projects in view of the current global financial crisis.







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