Maritime Security: Malaysia's Persistent Problem
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE United States
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In an address to senior naval officers at the 2009 International Maritime Seminar, Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, described Southeast Asia as a critical maritime region for commerce, for communication and for resources.1 While maritime security in Southeast Asia has been a long-standing issue, it has garnered significant attention in the last decade and a heightened awareness of the vulnerabilities of this region has emerged. The United States, China, and Japan, among other nations dependent upon these waters for international trade and commerce, have come to regard the Straits of Malacca as a region of instability, lurking threats, and ineffective law enforcement.2 As one of the three coastal states economically dependent upon maritime trade, one of the most critical challenges facing Malaysia is maintaining effective maritime security in this region. Unilateral and multilateral security measures taken in recent years by Malaysia appear to have neutralized the maritime threats in this region however vulnerabilities remain due to geographic challenges, sovereignty concerns, and territorial disputes.