Published: Saturday March 2, 2013 MYT 3:50:00 PM
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency bolster security in Lahad Datu region
By ONG HAN SEAN
KUANTAN: It is impossible for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to completely prevent intrusion into the country's territorial waters, said its director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish.
Commenting on the Lahad Datu standoff, he said the coastal line under the watch of the agency spanned 2,992km and could not be monitored all the time.
"In the Lahad Datu area, I think the coast is close to 100km long. There are 35 vessels patrolling Malaysia's waters 24 hours a day and the entire territorial waters under MMEA jurisdiction is 640,000 square km, larger than the Peninsular and East Malaysia.
"In Lahad Datu, there can only be two or three vessels on patrol," Mohd Amdan told reporters after the renaming ceremony of the MMEA Training Centre and Academy in Gebeng here Saturday.
He also said the two to three patrol vessels could not possibly check every contact that showed up on radar.
"The furthest our naked eye can see is 12km in daytime and due to the Earth's curvature, we cannot see anything further than that. With radar, we can detect an area of 30 to 35km but the contact will only show up as a dot and we have to go to it for verification. At any one time, there can be 10 contacts," said Mohd Amdan.
He added that Lahad Datu was also very close to the Philippines and intruders could assemble on one of the islands and speed across the sea in high-horsepower boats in just 30 minutes.
However, Mohd Amdan said that following the situation, MMEA would fine-tune coordination with the Navy and other security forces so there would be no further encroachment.
"Due to the incident, we have bolstered security in the region with three ships and six boats. Nobody has gotten past us after the first intrusion," he said.