Singapore: Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia Cooperate to Disrupt Sea Robbery

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) disrupted a sea robbery on a Malaysian-flagged tugboat in the Singapore Strait on September 1. No one was injured in the incident.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s Port Operations Control Centre had received a report from the boat, called Permata 1, at about 9am on September 1. Those on the boat had sighted robbers boarding their barge while they were transiting the eastern approaches of the Singapore Strait, MINDEF added.

The RSN’s Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) immediately deployed its Fearless-class patrol vessel the RSS Resilience, which arrived in the vicinity at about 9.20am. Upon seeing the warship, the robbers fled towards Indonesian waters, according to MINDEF.

The RSN’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC) then shared information on the incident and suspects with the Indonesian Navy’s (TNI AL) Western Fleet Sea Security Group, as well as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, which deployed assets to assist in searching for the robbers.

Through the description shared by IFC, the TNI AL successfully apprehended the three robbers and recovered the stolen cargo.

MINDEF stated that the RSS Resilience then accompanied Permata 1 safely to Singapore waters, where the Police Coast Guard boarded the tugboat for investigation.

“I am heartened to see the good cooperation between Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian enforcement agencies in disrupting the sea robbery attempt on Permata 1,” said Rear-Admiral Frederick Chew, commander of the MSTF.

“In particular, the close cooperation between the RSN and TNI AL is a reflection of the strong ties between our navies. We need to continue working closely together to keep up the pressure on sea robbers and to bring sea robbery incidents down,” he added.

A Singapore navy serviceman passes a display of warships ahead of the IMDEX Asia maritime defence exhibition at Changi Naval Base in Singapore

Photo Credit: Reuters

Malaysia: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak dodging anti-corruption spotlight

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has cancelled a speech at the world’s top anti-corruption conference held on September 2 as he refuses to explain $US 700 million in his personal bank account.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Mr Najib was listed as a speaker to the up to 2000 delegates from more than 100 countries attending the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Kuala Lumpur next week.

But the Prime Minister’s photograph and biography have been removed from the website of the conference which the Malaysian government is hosting. Mr Najib has made no public comment about his cancellation.

Transparency International told the international anti-corruption conference that Malaysia must provide answers on the US$700 million transferred to Najib Razak’s accounts.

Its president, Jose Ugaz, said Malaysia’s commitment towards fighting corruption cannot be taken seriously as long as it did not explain who paid the money, why, and what happened to it.

Ugaz at the opening ceremony of the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) said,

He said in recent weeks, the attorney-general “who was critical of the government” was replaced, the task force probing into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was suspended, investigators were arrested, and newspapers suspended.

“These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption.”

Ugaz Said only “one man” could provide answers, in an apparent reference to Najib.

But he said if the man refused to come forward, then only a fully independent investigation, free from political interference, could uncover the truth.

The hall, which comprised delegates from across the world, broke into applause at his statement.

Embroiled in the corruption scandal since July, Najib has used his political power to dismiss the Deputy Prime minister and claims the money is political contributions from an anonymous Middle Eastern account rather than from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). But people believe the saying is suspicious.

In addition, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections of Malaysia also took action to round up people to congregate in Kuala Lumpor, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching on August 29 and 30 in protest against Najib. An estimation of more than 300,000 people participated in the fourth assembly held by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the 48th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo Credit: Reuters

Indonesia: Thousands protest in Jakarta as economy declines

Thousands of workers took to the streets in the capital, Jakarta, demanding job security, salary hike and nine other requests, as Indonesia faces its slowest economic growth in five years.

But an Indonesian employers association yesterday labelled workers’ demands for steep annual wage hikes as “unrealistic", and warned there could be more layoffs at companies struggling amid a slowdown in South-east Asia’s largest economy.

Indonesia’s labour intensive industries such as garments and footwear have suffered most from the economic slowdown, shedding thousands of workers in recent months.

Workers are also hurt by soaring food prices, which caused July’s inflation rate to rise to 7.6 percent.

“The economy is slowing and companies all over the country are already either closing down or cutting jobs," said Mr. Hariyadi Sukamdani, head of the Indonesian Employers Association. “And this could get worse if the annual wage increase is too high," he said.

Led by workers unions, the Indonesian workers marched from the National Monument to the Presidential Palace where President Joko Widodo met the IMF chief Christine Lagarde.

The police have deployed more than 8,000 personnel to ensure the protests remain peaceful.

The labour unions have put forward a nine-point demand, including providing job security, disallowing foreign workers and lowering prices for staples.

The Jokowi government is expected to announce an economic stimulus package soon to address the slowdown.

It is expected to include, among others, an expanded tax holiday for companies and de-regulation to expedite government expenditure which had only used less than half of the allocated budget for this year.

Central Jakarta police chief Hendro Pandowo stands next to razor wire as Indonesian trade union workers hold a protest outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta

Photo Credit: Reuters

Translated and compiled by June
Edited by Olivia Yang