KUCHING: Considering that the sorry state of maritime enforcement is hurting the local economy, are the maritime enforcement authorities sleeping on the job and wasting taxpayers’ money?
According to Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing foreign shipping vessels are becoming more brazen and fishing in the state’s sovereign waters with impunity.
He said foreign fishing boats are not only destroying the local ecology but also reacting with violence against local fishermen.
“If the maritime enforcement authorities could not or do not intend to arrest this worsening situation, they might as well be dissolved to conserve our taxpayers’ money,” he said.
For him it is a sad reflection of the new federal government’s tendency to use big slogans, make lofty promises but ultimately unable to deliver on their words.
“They continue to boast of their promises to change things. But while they sit comfortably in their offices, our fishermen’s livelihoods are hindered and worse, they face threats to their lives and operations,” he lamented.
Tiong said despite repeated complaints and cry for help, the authorities and their masters in the Pakatan Harapan government still did not take adequate action to protect the people.
“The waters of Bintulu, Miri, Sibu, and Kuching all have been threatened by illegal foreign fishing vessels,” he said.
He remembered that under the previous government, maritime authorities were much more active, detaining many foreign boats and vessels.
Today, as many as 30 illegal fishing boats were sighted and reported by Malaysian fishing vessels.
According to the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president, local fishermen tried to take pictures as evidence, but they were intimidated by the foreigners with machetes and other weapons.
He said continuing to allow these foreign vessels unpermitted access to our seas would certainly reduce the state’s resources and destroy the marine ecology.
“Does this warrant any action by the authorities? Where are the patrols by the security forces?
“Isn’t it their sworn duty to protect our seas and maintain our national sovereignty? Do we have to beg for their protection?
“Why are they always catching our own vessels but let the foreigners intrude across our borders so easily?”
Tiong said besides the MMEA, the Department of Fisheries should also shoulder the blame for these breaches to the state’s maritime borders and threats to our fishermen.
It is beyond distressing that after many complaints, the department has “refused to discuss the matter with the MMEA or even listened to the fishermen”, he said.