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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on Investigations into Piracy Incidents in Singapore Strait in and after December 2019

03 Feb 2020 In Parliament

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Transport

a.     whether any investigation has been carried out in respect of the piracy incidents in the Singapore Strait in and after December 2019;

b.     whether the Government has identified the persons or groups responsible for the reported incidents and where they originate from;

c.     what action has been taken by any of our government agencies to date; and

d.     what are the Government’s plans to prevent similar acts of piracy.

Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan:

1.     In December 2019 and January 2020, there were 12 incidents involving piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Singapore Strait. As none of these incidents occurred within Singapore territorial waters, no investigations were required of our agency. If an incident happens within Singapore territorial waters, the Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG) will investigate where necessary.

2.     The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) works with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the PCG to closely monitor vessels around and within Singapore territorial waters. Should any suspicious vessel enter Singapore territorial waters, our maritime agencies will respond robustly to safeguard Singapore's security. MPA regularly broadcasts alerts to vessels to be vigilant when travelling along the Singapore Strait, and issues shipping circulars to advise them on measures to prevent and counter piracy and armed robbery. Such measures include surveillance and detection systems, access control measures, and radio and alarm procedures in the event of an attack.

3.     As the Singapore Strait does not only include Singapore territorial waters, the fight against piracy and armed robbery requires strong collaboration among all regional partners. The RSN conducts joint coordinated patrols with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand through the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP), to ensure the safety and security of the Strait of Singapore as well as the Strait of Malacca. The MSP holds regular meetings to enhance coordination, review the conduct of operations, and share intelligence and information.

4.     Singapore is also part of a region-wide initiative, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, or ReCAAP, which serves to be the information hub in Asia. We encourage the shipping community to provide timely and accurate reporting of incidents to ReCAAP focal points and the nearest coastal state or authority, so that remedial actions can be taken promptly by the respective littoral States.