30/05/2024 02:12 PM

By Voon Miaw Ping

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Bernama) -- The United States Coast Guard (USCG) seeks to broaden its collaboration with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to promote peace, stability and the rule of law in the region’s maritime domain.

The commandant of USCG, Admiral Linda Fagan, expressed commitment to stronger ties with the country, emphasising Malaysia’s growing role as a comprehensive partner, particularly in the region’s maritime security.

“Malaysia is an incredibly important maritime security leader in Southeast Asia and the MMEA is a key part of that. The leadership and partnership are critical to us.

“Malaysia plays a role in maritime security governance. And it's key to safety, security and the environmental protection of the maritime realm here in the region,” she said in an interview with selected Malaysian media as part of her visit to Kuala Lumpur.

This, she said, includes further building on the existing partnership with the MMEA while looking at new opportunities for mutual and aligned interests that both sides can explore and strengthen. 

“We welcome all opportunities (for cooperation), reinforce and affirm what we are already doing as a partner with the MMEA and seek additional opportunities, including passing exercises, interoperability, table tops, key leader exchanges and subject matter exchanges.”

This was Fagan’s first visit to Malaysia since her appointment as the first female commandant of the USCG in June 2022.

During her three-day visit here, en route to attend the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, Fagan has had high-level meetings with the MMEA’s leadership and Home Ministry, focusing on ensuring and increasing Malaysia’s “ability to enforce its sovereignty in the maritime domain”.

The meetings encompassed cooperation in safety and security, environmental stewardship, search and rescue, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing), among others. 

She noted the growth and achievements that the MMEA has attained compared to 2019 when she first engaged with the agency in her capacity as commander for the USCG Pacific Area. 

“Malaysia, as a comprehensive partner, continues to grow, and the MMEA, in particular, has continued to grow stronger in its capability and capacity.

“We saw a huge volume of marine transportation as we flew in yesterday. All of those ships bring critical economic prosperity to the region.

“Malaysia plays a role in maritime security governance. And it's key to safety, security and the environmental protection of the maritime realm here in the region.” 

The USCG, a branch of the US Armed Forces, is the principal Federal agency responsible for maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship in US ports and inland waterways, US coastlines and the Exclusive Economic Zone, and on the high seas.

It also has a presence in waters globally through strategic collaborations with like-minded nations.

“And as I look into the future, I see nothing but opportunity for us collectively. And that truly, the maritime security challenges in the region and around the world necessitate a strong partnership, bilateral and multilateral engagement and leadership across a host of topics.

“We are excited that we've got some skills and opportunity to help in those conversations and help bring them forward. Our desire is to be a partner of choice and a useful partner of choice.” 

In a related development, Fagan said the USCG will be transferring a cutter (patrol vessel) to the MMEA soon, signifying the close ties between them. 

She revealed that it will be a 210-foot cutter.

“We look forward to the transfer of one of our cutters – a 210-foot cutter – that we are moving forward with some sense of urgency (in collaboration) with our Malaysian and MMEA counterparts.”

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was reported as saying that the USCG is offering to donate a patrol vessel to Malaysia for use by the MMEA during his working visit to the US in September. 

He said several MMEA officers and personnel had been sent to the US to assess the vessel’s capabilities and to compile a report before any decision was made.







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