Nov 20, 2018

Piracy in Southeast Asia: An unavoidable crisis


Piracy is something that’s often associated with the Caribbean regions decades and centuries past, but not many people know that the biggest region for piracy in the world happens to be South-East Asia. Yes, it’s true!


Back in the 19th century, Pirates used to use knives, swords and daggers to launch attacks, going after all kinds of valuables from spices to food and alcohol to silk and of course dem dar gold doubloons. In the 21st century, however, the pirates have been armed with all kinds of modern guns and machinery. What attracts them today? The booty of modern commerce! 


The South-East Asian straits are a very important trade route, with 70-80% of China and Japan’s imported oil traversing them.


Political and economic circumstances have complicated the detection and stopping of pirates, but even from a geographical standpoint, tracking down Pirates can be quite a nightmare! Indonesia alone has 95,000 kilometers of coastline, and the government a few years ago declared that there were ten hot spots of pirate activity. 


No sooner had these ten been identified and addressed, resulting in a reduction in the number of small-scale pirate attacks, than an eleventh emerged. The sheer scale and geographic spread of the problem makes it extremely difficult to address.


Regional politics has also been a huge roadblock in the path of stopping piracy. There’s no intelligence coordination between countries on an international scale, meaning that anti-piracy measures must be undertaken regionally; a challenge when it comes to the high seas. On top of that, TIME reported that Indonesia and Malaysia are reluctant to join the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). 


Indonesia Coast


Malaysia doesn’t want a rift between ReCAAP and International Maritime Bureau (IMB) which is based in Kuala Lumpur. Indonesia, on the other hand, seems to be operating from a pettier position; they wanted to host ReCAAP but lost their bid to Singapore.


Piracy generates a huge quantum of illicit wealth. This, naturally, leads to corruption and more people participating in piratical activities. As a result, there are more loopholes than anticipated. More sinisterly, this also leads to crime syndicates that have insider access to the ships, crews and cargos, surreptitiously sharing information with the pirates on how and when to hijack the ships.


Southern Philippines is another major belt for piracy. Future anti-piracy ventures will depend greatly on the situation in the southern Philippines, as this region has a history of providing asylum to militants, criminals and rebels. There have even been Al-Qaeda and ISIS members who have taken refuge there with the Auby Sayyaf faction of the Philippines’ Islamist insurgency.


It’s interesting to note that over the last three years, the number of incidents of hijacking for cargo has reduced, while kidnappings have followed an upward trajectory, according to New York Times. They went on to report that there were fewer recorded incidents of piracy (2,283 seafarers in 2016 and 3,674 seafarers in 2015); however, deaths increased (albeit, thankfully, only 6 deaths total in the period).


Pirate Ship


This cloud, too, has a silver lining. With all the deaths and kidnapping, the governments of Asia have been making a concerted effort to divert traffic in the sea to safer channels and to tackle piracy. Straits in places such as Singapore are less vulnerable than before. It’s past time that regional governments caught up with the latest happenings and technology of the crime syndicates; and all signs point towards them doing so.


Pirate of Pearl River Delta Talk by Jason Wordie


Come join an intimate, lively talk given by local historian, Jason Wordie on the Pirates of the South China Sea. 

Jason will present his lecture, followed by question and answers.

Included during the evening event are: the talk with unlimited drinks and Thai Snack food. ☕

Date: 28 November 2018, Wednesday

Time: 19:00 - 21:00

Price: Member Price: $550; Non-Member Price: $630

Teach / Host: Jason Wordie

More Information about the Talk


#mozaic #pirate #piracy #JasonWordie

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