Malaysia for limiting maritime traffic in Straits of Malacca

October 22nd, 2008 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 22 (IANS) The number of vessels plying the Straits of Malacca will need to be capped to ensure safe navigation, says Malaysia, one of the prominent littoral states.Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the capacity of the strait to assimilate increasing vessel traffic was finite.

Razak said Malaysia believed that the ship-carrying capacity would have to be jointly determined by the littoral states, and the set limit must not be exceeded.

At present, a bulk of the traffic to and from East and Southeast Asia passes through the Straits of Malacca. Besides other cargo and men, it includes fuel to meet the rising needs of the nations, among them Japan and China.

Razak spoke Tuesday after launching the Maritime Institute of Malaysia Centre for the Straits of Malacca, The Star newspaper reported.

“At such point, the cost to ensure safety of navigation will also increase exponentially,” he said in his keynote address at the launch of the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (Mima) Centre for the Straits of Malacca.

He said the strait was not international waters, but bordered by Indonesia and Malaysia and the sovereign rights of these nations should be appreciated.

“While vessels can pass through, they will have to abide by the rules and regulations established by the coastal states relating to navigational safety, environmental protection and fisheries,” he said.

He added that Malaysia viewed its sovereignty in the strait as sacrosanct and this included the right to exercise full and exclusive sovereignty over its territorial waters.

There have been several incidents of robbery and piracy on the high sea in the recent years prompting the US to moot an international naval task force to ensure safety.

However, Malaysia has opposed any such move saying this threatened its sovereignty.

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