Kuala Lumpur: Four Southeast Asian nations jointly patrolling the Malacca Straits have achieved "close to zero incident level" in piracy, but concerns about terrorism and robbery at sea persist, a top military official has said.
Malaysian Defence Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin said the Straits of Malacca last year achieved a "close to zero incident level" due to the collaboration among the countries which formed the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) -- Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
"The four countries have been working closely in ensuring the security of the straits," he said, adding that this would be the fifth year since the establishment of the MSP.
Azizan said the number of sea robbery cases had seen a dramatic reduction - from 38 in 2004 to only nine in 2006.
He added that the 2010 International Maritime Bureau Piracy Report showed that the threats in the straits were now close to the zero incident level.
However, he said, the emergence of activities such as terrorism and robbery at sea was a growing concern that needed to be addressed, The Star reported on Thursday.
He said research showed that 80 percent of oil and gas imports from East Asia and 30 percent of global trade passed through the Straits of Malacca every year.
"Hence, it is vital for us to work together to ensure continuous safe passage through the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea and other important sea routes in the region," he said at the Malacca and Singapore Straits Patrol Seminar 2011 here.
Information Fusion Centre (IFC) head Lt-Col Nicholas Lim said the centre had expanded its shipping database from 14 to 26 countries with more than 200,000 ships in the past two years.
"We aim to help the shipping community to better understand how the MSP functions and how they can play a part in safe-guarding maritime security," he said, adding that the shipping community could help by providing immediate reports of incidents at sea.