Saifuddin Abdullah Photo: Bernama

KUANTAN: Malaysia and Vietnam have agreed to find a solution to the perennial issue of encroachment by the latter’s fishermen of Malaysia’s waters.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he broached the subject at his meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister  Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minha, who is also Foreign Minister, during an official visit to the country on Thursday.

He said the problem had become a major encumbrance for Malaysia in that lockups to detain the suspects and depots to keep seized fishing boats were full.

Saifuddin Abdullah Photo: Bernama

“I stressed to them that we don’t like to arrest their fishermen as it does not benefit us; in fact, we have to bear their food expenses while they are in detention pending deportation,” he told reporters here today.

Earlier, he chaired the Indera Mahkota Parliamentary Consultative Council’s second meeting at Kompleks Dagangan Mahkota.

Saifuddin said based on statistics from Malaysia’s enforcement agencies, 748 trawlers and 7,203 fishermen from Vietnam were detained between 2006 and early May, 2019.

“We hope the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the issue could be signed at the latest, by year end when the foreign ministers of both countries meet again for the second time in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

He said the nitty-gritty in regard to the MoU would also be refined at a meeting between Malaysian and Vietnamese senior officials, to be held in July.

“At a prior meeting, the Vietnamese government had also given an assurance that it would educate its fishermen against continuing to encroach into Malaysia’s waters,” the minister disclosed.

Saifuddin who is also Indera Mahkota member of parliament said the MoU would be similar to that signed between Malaysia and Indonesia. – Bernama