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Malaysian waters violation, nine Indonesians detained

JAKARTA (ANN/THE JAKARTA POST) – Governor Ansar Ahmad of Indonesia’s Riau Islands is actively engaged in efforts to secure the release of nine Natuna Islands fishermen detained by Malaysian authorities for entering the nation’s waters without authorisation.

Governor Ahmad underscores ongoing communication between his office and the Indonesian Consulate General in Sarawak, Malaysia, where the fishermen are currently held, as crucial in gathering additional information and facilitating their swift release.

“We are handling it through the border agency and the Maritime and Fisheries Agency [DKP] of Riau Islands, and it is still in process,” said Ansar on Wednesday.

Captain Ilham, leading the Natuna Maritime Security Agency, has verified the confiscation of three Natuna boats by Malaysian authorities on November 14. Each vessel, manned by a captain and two crew members, was subsequently transported to a port in Sarawak.

“There is already a dedicated team [to handle the situation],” Ilham said.

Emphasising the enduring positive relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia, Ansar highlighted that this strong bond could expedite the release of the nine detained fishermen.

“We continue to communicate with our consulate general there. It’s in Sarawak, and I have just returned from there. I am closely monitoring this development,” he said.

“Malaysia has helped us a lot, and vice versa. Hopefully, it can be resolved soon.”

The event on November 14 marks the second instance impacting Natuna fishermen within the last two years. In 2022, two fishermen faced a six-month imprisonment in Malaysia following their conviction for participating in illegal fishing activities in Malaysian waters.

The Royal Malaysian Navy vessel KD Terengganu (left) gracefully navigates the waters on the concluding day of the ASEAN Natuna Solidarity Exercise 2023 near Lagong Island in the Riau Islands on September 23, 2023. PHOTO: AFP