Piracy in Indonesia

Piracy in Indonesia is not only notorious, but according to a survey conducted by the International Maritime Bureau, it was also the country sporting the highest rate of pirate attacks back in 2004, where it subsequently dropped to second place of the world's worst country of pirate attacks in 2008, finishing just behind Nigeria.[1] However, Indonesia is still deemed the country with the world's most dangerous water due to its high piracy rate.[2] With more than half of the world's piracy crimes surrounding the South-East Asia aquatic regions, the turmoil caused by piracy has made the Strait of Malacca a distinct pirate hotspot accounting for most of the attacks in Indonesia, making the ships that sail in this region risky ever since the Europeans arrived.[1][3] The term 'Piracy in Indonesia' includes both cases of Indonesian pirates hijacking other cargo and tanks, as well as the high rate of practising piracy within the country itself. The Strait of Malacca is also one of the world's busiest shipping routes as it accounts for more than twenty-five percent of the world's barter goods that come mainly from China and Japan.[1] Approximately 50,000 vessels worth of the world's trade employ the strait annually, including oil from the Persian Gulf and manufactured goods to the Middle East and Suez Canal. The success that stems from this trade portal makes the Strait an ideal location for pirate attacks.[4]


Reasons for pirate attacks

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the pirates are able to bypass authorities and elude detection by taking cover in numerous islands that readily surround the area. The region surrounding Indonesia alone has an estimate of over seventeen hundred islands and a seascape of tropical isles in which pirates are able to seek refuge.[3][4] In addition, numerous major naval forces that use to patrol high seas has declined by fifty percent and this has adversely propelled the rate of pirate attacks in Indonesia.[5] Many of these crimes are conducted for ransom, but there is a huge risk involved when these pirates are illegal syndicates who hijack tug boats, barges and large tankers. These containers carry explosive natural gases that can be used as weapons.[2] The worry on piracy in Indonesia continues to soar when it was recorded back in 2012 that across the Indonesian archipelago, the number of petty thefts recorded was eighty-one and this accounts to more than one quarter of the world's piracy incidents.[6] In addition, economic drivers such as poverty and corruption also accounts to the high rates of pirate attacks.[7] As supported in a research article by David Rosenberg, the number of crimes has shot up ever since the 1997 currency crisis in Indonesia, driving numerous people to becoming pirates solely to earn a living wage.[8] According to the Bali Times, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are all responsible for patrolling their own regions and they do not have any jurisdiction beyond their water territories, making regional waters vulnerable and easy for pirates to escape.[1] Furthermore, with Indonesia's coastline being twice as long as the perimeter of the earth, patrolling their water territory with slightly more than a dozen vessels is clearly inadequate.[8] Within the first six months of 2012, Indonesia alone is responsible for twenty percent of the pirate attacks that happened globally.[9]

Recent cases

Over the last ten years, the number of pirate attacks in Indonesia has dropped. However, there are still numerous reports on piracy occurring along coastal areas and gulfs. In 2011, 15 attacks were recorded in the month of January alone, where five attacks amounted to the total number of crimes during the first quarter of that respective year.[10] In addition, during the month of September in that same year, two incidents of pirate attacks were reported. The first group consisted of four Indonesian pirates who were being arrested where they confessed that they aided and abetted a larger syndicate that operated in the Strait of Malacca.[11] The second group of attackers during that month included six Indonesian men who were being detained. They were suspects for a group of Indonesian pirates that allegedly boarded a merchant vessel in Singapore. During the attack, warning shots were being fired and the pirates fled the scene. It is believed that the group arrived from Batam, an island that was closely situated to the Strait.[12]

In 2012, four pirates boarded a Bulk Carrier in Gresik Inner Anchorage, Indonesia, and entered the forward ship's store. They managed to escape when a crew spotted them, but the pirates made off with a few property from the store.[13]

Government intervention

Back in 2003, CNN reported that unless the Indonesian government enforces sea patrol, the crime rates for piracy will not be dropping anytime soon.[2] However, after an attack back in the 1990s, Indonesia has partnered with Singapore and Malaysia to safeguard, monitor and ensure the security and safety of the water that borders outside their respective territory. One way to aid the problem, as reported by the International Maritime Bureau, is to be vigilant because pirates often abandon their attacks the moment they are being spotted. This is why the relationship between ship and water is vital.[14] According to the Oceans Beyond Piracy, which is a project that looks to develop a multi-stakeholders response to piracy, they reported that a cooperative security measure undertaken by Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand ensures the security of the Strait of Malacca by instilling the Malacca Strait Patrols (MSP). The MSP comprises the Malacca Strait Sea Patrol (MSSP), the Eyes in the Sky (EiS) and the Intelligence Exchange Group (IEG) and the information that is being gathered on pirate attacks in Indonesia is being facilitated and shared between the countries. Furthermore, co-ordinated patrols have also been established.[15] In September 2011, two warships were being deployed by Indonesia and Malaysia as part of a collaboration patrol to supervise pirate attacks at the Strait of Malacca.[16] As recorded by Time World, an Indonesian naval officer claimed that they would be no match for the pirates back in 2004 because there were easy attacks-and-escape routes that made hunting these pirates down radically impossible. The number of attacks during 2004 also reached its crisis level. However, as of 2009, this problem has been countered as the rate of pirate crimes have dissipated.[4] Although the number of pirate attacks that have occurred in the first quarter of the year in 2009 has almost doubled in comparison to the same period the year before, only one pirate attack took place in Indonesia as opposed to the 102 attacks that happened globally. The solution, as mentioned by the director of the International Marine Bureau in London, said that good coordination and cooperation from regional governments play a part in deterring the attacks on commercial shipping, because cohesive supervision leads to a riskier task for the pirates.[4]

Attacks per year

See also


  1. Read, Sophia. "Piracy: Alive and Dangerous in the 21st Century". The Bali Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  2. "Sea Piracy Hits Record High". CNN. 26 January 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  3. "Indonesia Piracy Hotspot". BBC. 1 November 2000. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  4. Schuman, Michael (22 April 2009). "How to Defeat Pirates: Success in the Strait". Time World. Archived from the original on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  5. Maggio, Edward J. "Maritime Piracy". Survival Insights. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  6. "SeaShip News". SeaShip News. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  7. "Present State of the Piracy Problem and Japan's Efforts". Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  8. Rosenberg, David (2009). The Political Economy of Piracy in the South China Sea. Naval War College Press. pp. 46–51.
  9. Vit, Jonathan. "Criminals Increasingly Targeting Indonesian Ports: World Piracy Report". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  10. Lutfia, Ismira. "Pirate Attacks in Indonesian Waters Increase". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  11. Lamb, Kate. "Indonesian Pirate Arrest Leads to Broader Network in Malacca Strait". Voice of America. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  12. "Indonesian Piracy Attack Deterred Off Malaysia, 6 Men Detained". Maritime Executive. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  13. "Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2013". ICC Commercial Crime Service. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  14. "Spike in Pirate Attacks in Indonesian Waters Raises Warnings". Voice of America. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  15. "Oceans Beyond Piracy". Oceans Beyond Piracy. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  16. Alessi, Christopher. "Combating Maritime Piracy". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  17. Dillon R., Dana. "Piracy in Asia: A Growing Barrier to Maritime Trade". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  18. Hunt, Katie (24 October 2012). "Report: Sea piracy drops to lowest level in four years". CNN. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
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