KUCHING, Oct 4: Sarawak government would have to address the constitutional provisions placed on marine and estuarine fisheries, as well as the arming of the security personnel, before it could set up its own marine enforcement unit.
Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar agrees that Sarawak would need its own marine enforcement unit to protect the state’s long and rich coastline from encroachment.
However, there are hurdles that needed to be overcome before the implementation can be realised, he added.
“The hurdle in implementing this was the constitutional provisions that placed marine fisheries, including estuarine fisheries, under the Federal List, in Article 74 of the Federal Constitution.
“Another hurdle is to arm our marine enforcement unit, which is under the police’s authority and therefore the Ministry of Home Affairs. We simply cannot send our unit out there without (being) properly armed, even for personal protection,” he said in a statement.
Wan Junaidi pointed out that Sarawak has 1,200 kilometres of coastline, which is a rich economic zone with resources that were relatively untapped, while the fisheries and maritime laws were not properly supervised.
“There is a serious neglect in protecting the coastal areas of Sarawak from encroachment by foreign fishing (vessels) and fishermen. This has resulted in encroachment of fishing vessels from Vietnam, Indonesia and even China that has been going on for years.
“Besides that, there is the internal encroachment and deep sea fishing in ‘foreign hands’ though the licences are in the name of the locals,” he continued.
Wan Junaidi expressed support to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s plan to regain Sarawak’s full rights over its coastal and riverine fishery, to allow the setting up its own marine enforcement unit.
He even suggested the enforcement be called “Sarawak Marine Coastal Unit”.
“If the federal government is short of resources and funds, they should seriously consider allowing Sarawak to complement the (Malaysia) Maritime (Enforcement Agency) and the marine police by creating Sarawak Marine Coastal Unit to help protect Sarawak’s long and rich coastline from encroachment and rampant breach of fisheries laws and regulations,” he said.
Wan Junaidi added that if Putrajaya was serious in protecting Sarawak’s coastline, all these could be overcome with consent as the ultimate aim was to protect Malaysia’s waters and laws.
“After all, Sarawak is not creating new laws to abrogate the national laws but to complement the enforcement of federal laws,” he said.
He suggested: “Perhaps, Sarawak may want to use the Residual Authority under Article 77 to ‘stop-gap’ the lacuna in federal law and what is not enforced by the federal government.”
As for the proposed enforcement unit, he highlighted the need to equip the crews with fast patrol boats, arms for protection and complete with bases with detention centre and compound areas in Kuching, Mukah and Miri.
“We need to have our own unit because we cannot direct the police marine and MMEA because of the authority given by respective laws.
“Law is needed to empower the unit to investigate, arrest, detain and prosecute and given the devolution of powers in 2017, there are DPPs (deputy public prosecutors) in Sarawak,” he said. — DayakDaily