KUCHING: Bintulu MP has taken to task the state Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director First Admiral Robert Teh Geok Chuan for downplaying the alleged intrusions of foreign vessels into Sarawak waters.

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing also said he was appalled by the director’s rebuttal of his statement on the critical situation faced by the local fishermen.

“The safety threats posed by these vessels to the local fishermen are real. They are facts. They are not figments of anyone’s imagination,” he said.

Tiong, who is also Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president, expressed dismay at Teh’s response rubbishing his statement that MMEA had failed to protect Sarawak waters from foreign vessel encroachment.

Tiong King Sing

“I had personally asked for the contact numbers of the fishermen who attended the dialogue in Miri. Was Teh saying that my words and those of the affected fishermen have no bearing on their considerations?”

He suggested that Teh hold another dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders if he insisted he was right.

“I will also attend it,” he said.

According to him, even enforcement officers at the dialogue admitted to a lack of resources due to reduced allocations.

At the same time, the officers also complained of Vietnamese fishing boats threatening their enforcement vessels and had to withdraw due to overwhelming danger.

“Everyone has his reasons for these complaints but so far the director seems to be oblivious of them. Apparently, the MMEA is loaded not with firearms to protect our waters but for firing back at concerned citizens.”

On a separate issue, Tiong said on the evening of July 6, several fishermen came to him complaining that foreign vessels acted aggressively while approaching their boats near the Bintulu-Miri border.

“I immediately called the Miri branch of the MMEA and was told that the ships could not go out to sea then due to repairs. But once I insisted that it was an emergency, I was suddenly told that the foreign boats immediately switched off their lights and turned around.

“Was this a coincidence? Perhaps, Teh would like to clarify what happened since he should know the situation better than most.

Tiong also called for Teh’s resignation should he was not able to tackle the issues at hand.