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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung to Parliamentary Question on Number of Piracy Incidents in Straits of Singapore in 2020

02 Feb 2021 In Parliament

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Transport

a.     in 2020, what is the number of piracy incidents in the Straits of Singapore;

b.     how does this compare with the frequency of piracy incidents over the past three years; and

c.     what efforts are underway to ensure that there will be a reduction of such incidents this year.

Reply by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung:

1.     In 2020, there were 34 reported sea robbery incidents in the Strait of Singapore, which comprises the territorial waters of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Out of the 34 incidents, 29 were petty theft involving unarmed perpetrators. Four incidents involved armed perpetrators, but no crew was physically harmed. There was one incident where the perpetrators were armed with knives and one crew member sustained a minor head injury. None of these 34 cases occurred within or originated from Singapore territorial waters.

2.     Mr Tan asked about the frequency of incidents over the past three years. There were 31 sea robbery incidents in the Strait of Singapore in 2019, seven in 2018 and eight in 2017.

3.     The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) works with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Police Coast Guard (PCG) to closely monitor vessels around and within Singapore’s territorial waters around the clock. Should any suspicious vessel enter our territorial waters, our maritime security agencies will respond swiftly and robustly to safeguard Singapore’s security. I have confidence in the capabilities of our security agencies and our frontline officers. The pirates must know this too, which was probably why they avoided coming into Singapore territorial waters.

4.     Based on internationally established rules of engagement, our agencies do not generally intervene in piracy and sea robbery incidents that take place in other countries’ waters. We had previously explained in this House that the fight against piracy requires close collaboration among all regional partners, to share information and conduct coordinated patrols. Countries in the region have also taken enforcement action against pirates who are found within their boundaries. Singapore agencies have and will work closely with regional counterparts to combat piracy.

5.     Vessel owners and crew also have a role to play in the fight against piracy. MPA has been advising vessels travelling through the Strait of Singapore to implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of piracy attacks, such as the installation of surveillance and detection systems, putting in place access control measures, and using radio and alarms to alert the authorities in the event of an incident. We also urge the shipping community to report incidents in a timely and accurate manner so that littoral states can take prompt remedial actions.