KUALA LUMPUR: A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be drawn up between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to manage and contain kidnapping crimes in the South China Sea.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the SOP was necessary to not only look at maritime concerns but includes kidnapping cases, especially near the southern Philippines.
“A trilateral meeting between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to draw up an SOP is important because cross-border kidnap cases at sea do not just involve Malaysians.
“For example, Indonesia has had 14 of its citizens kidnapped since 2014. This is an issue that needs a collective agreement from three countries on further action,” he said in reply to a question by Datuk Sapawi Ahmad Wasali in Parliament Wednesday.
Among the latest kidnap incidents were on March 26 when 10 Indonesian sailors were grabbed from the tugboat Brahman, and later on April 1 when four Malaysian sailors were taken from MV Masfive 6 near Sabah’s Pulau Ligitan.
Reezal said the first technical meeting to draw up the SOP will take place Wednesday.
“The SOP, once ready, is expected to ensure cooperation between the three countries in terms of sea patrols and exchange of intelligence can be done, which will help prevent future kidnapping incidents,” he said.