KUALA LUMPUR: The number of vessels plying the Straits of Malacca will need to be capped to ensure safe navigation, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
He said the capacity of the strait to assimilate increasing vessel traffic was finite.
He 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.
“Malaysia believes there is an ultimate 'tipping point' for maritime traffic in the strait beyond which further increases will become not only risky but also too dangerous and costly.
“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.
Najib said that over the years, Malaysia had spent more than RM200mil to install, maintain and upgrade various navigational aids in the strait, adding that there was a limit to what the country could afford given the long-term financial implications.
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.
“Malaysia also has a Continental Shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone in the strait and reserves all rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing resources therein,” Najib said.
He said a Marine Electronic Highway was being planned to integrate current maritime safety technologies with marine environment management and protection systems.
This was in addition to the Traffic Separation Scheme, STRAITREP mandatory ship reporting system and Vessel Traffic Monitoring System which were already in place, he said.