Renewed Commitment to Safety and Environment Protection in Straits of Malacca and Singapore

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            The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is hosting the 14th Co-operation Forum (CF) from 31 July to 1 August 2023. The CF is a key platform for the littoral States of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), user States, industry and other stakeholders to engage in dialogue, exchange information and share perspectives on issues relating to the Straits. The event was launched earlier today by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Acting Minister for Transport, and attended by close to 200 delegates from over 60 countries and organisations.

2          The CF is one of the three pillars of the Co-operative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (“Co-operative Mechanism”). The Co-operative Mechanism, which was launched at the IMO-Singapore Meeting in September 2007, focuses on navigational safety and environmental protection in the SOMS and includes two other pillars, namely the Project Co-ordination Committee[1] and the Aids to Navigation Fund[2].

3          In his opening remarks, Acting Minister Chee highlighted how the Co-operative Mechanism’s three pillars had progressed and commended the littoral States, key user States and industry partners for advancing the important work of the Mechanism to keep the SOMS safe, open, and clean for seaborne trade. Acting Minister emphasised that the responsibility of keeping global supply chains resilient and protecting the environment was a shared one, and urged all stakeholders to remain focused and vigilant as they continued their partnership in preserving and enhancing navigational safety and environmental protection in the Straits, while keeping an eye on technological advances, environmental developments, and geopolitics – factors which impacted the Shipping industry. 

4          Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, delivered the keynote address at the 14th CF.  He highlighted that the success of the Co-operative Mechanism is due in part to four founding principles, namely (i) the three littoral States of the SOMS will abide by international law, including UNCLOS[3]; (ii) the three littoral States will work together and arrive at a consensus on the effective management of the Straits; (iii) the Co-operative Mechanism will be open and inclusive; and (iv) there is shared interest between the littoral States and the user States in enhancing the navigational safety and environmental protection of the Straits.

5          Chaired by Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, the 14th CF will discuss topics impacting shipping including maritime autonomous surface ships, maritime decarbonisation, ballast water management and oil spill management. Proposals to enhance navigational safety in the SOMS will also be discussed. 

6          Representing Indonesia and Malaysia at the 14th Co-operation Forum were Dr Hartanto, Director of Marine Safety and Seafarers, Directorate General of Sea Transportation, and Captain Mohamad Halim Ahmed, Director General of Marine Department, respectively. The CF is hosted annually on a rotational basis among the three littoral States and the previous edition was hosted by Malaysia in July 2022.

[1] The Project Co-ordination Committee co-ordinates the implementation of Straits Projects to enhance navigational safety and environmental protection in the SOMS. Since its inception in 2007, the PCC has undertaken 13 Straits Projects involving collaborative efforts and partnerships between the littoral States and various stakeholders. The 14th PCC meeting will be held on 4 August 2023. 


[2] The Aids to Navigation Fund is the main platform for the provision and maintenance of aids to navigation (AtoN) in the SOMS and plays an important role in ensuring a sustainable means of financing the upkeep of AtoNs, that is critical to the safe navigation of ships in the SOMS. The ANF receives financial contributions from the international maritime community and to date, has received over US$23 million. The 28th ANF Committee meeting was held from 14 to 15 June 2023 in Bali, Indonesia.


[3] Adopted in 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.