Four Indonesian crew members of tug boat TB Henry, who had been held hostage by Abu Sayyaf, were greeted by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on their arrival at Halim Perdanakusuma air base, Jakarta, last May 2016 / photo: kompas.com

Two Indonesians kidnapped in Sulu Sea; Indonesia questions Malaysia’s commitment to safeguard its waters

BOGOR, Indonesia — The government of Indonesia asked Malaysia about its commitment to safeguard its waters from the threat of armed groups.

Kompas reported that the Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi raised this issue after two Indonesians were again taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines on Saturday (5 Nov).

The Indonesian Government has also opened intense communication with pertinent parties for more detailed information.

“This morning (6 Nov), I talked to the Malaysian foreign minister. I asked the Malaysian government to pay attention to security in Malaysian waters because the kidnapping occurred in Malaysian territory,” Ms Retno said at Bogor Palace in West Java.

The two Indonesians were kidnapped on Saturday when their ship departed from Buton regency, Southeast Sulawesi. Ms Retno said they were working legally as ship’s captains on board Malaysian fishing ships SSK 005 20F and SN 1154/4F. She mentioned there were around 6,000 Indonesian citizens working legally on Malaysian ships.

The Indonesian foreign ministry’s team has contacted the ships’ owners and the six crew members. And Ms Retno has also talked to the special adviser to the Philippines’ president on peace affairs to seek the best solution.

The Foreign Ministry also contacted the hostages’ families. “We have talked to one family. We were still trying to contact the other family,” Ms Retno said.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Armanatha Natsir explained this latest hostage incident had occurred outside the Sulu corridor in the Philippines, where security disturbances often happened.

Map: bp.blogspot.com
Map: bp.blogspot.com

The Malaysian government should always maintain security around these waters, in line with the commitment of the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to conduct joint patrols, he said.

Armanatha said, until now who was behind the kidnapping has not been clarified.

Kompas also wrote, international Law expert from University of Indonesia, Hikmahanto Juwana, said it was difficult to carry out trilateral cooperation for border security. “One concrete step that could be taken was to avoid those waters prone to kidnapping,” he advised.

“The sea is vast and its security cannot be completely maintained. The technology used in these ships should also be taken into account. Small ships often do not use radar. So, they are hard to detect,” Hikmahanto said.