EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Managing Borders in the Maritime Domain Workshop

Jun 9-11, 2008

APCSS & MMEA Partnered Outreach Executive Summary, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Background. A three-day maritime security conference co-sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) attracted parliament-level support from the Government of Malaysia (GOM), widespread participation from several Southeast Asian countries, and extensive media coverage.  Participants produced a consensus brief outlining the primary security threats in the maritime domain, along with recommended courses of action for enhanced multinational and regional security cooperation.  One of the positive effects of this APCSS outreach event was to significantly raise the stature and visibility of MMEA, the primary GOM agency for maritime security in Malaysian waters. The event also paid dividends as a practical example of the ongoing USG commitment to an active and constructive Global Maritime Partnership within the Southeast Asian region.

Objectives.  This event is a follow-on multinational conference to the February 2007 land-border control conference held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The objectives of the workshop were to:

(1) gain a current understanding on various Southeast Asia countries’ perspectives on border-control threats, challenges and opportunities in the maritime domain;

(2) exchange descriptions and views of the basic requirements for improving maritime border control;

(3) gain a better appreciation for shared maritime border control;

(4) facilitate small-group identification of ways and means of leveraging effective border control in the maritime domain to deter, interdict and lessen various forms of trafficking and other crimes detrimental to effective governance and population protection within the region; and

(5) exchange participant way-ahead views on next steps required to improve regional maritime border control systems.

Workshop Findings.

1.  Sovereignty – expressly identified by numerous participants as a source of tension amongst participant nations.  

2.  Terrorism – identified by conference participants as a concern in Southeast Asia, though they were loath to mention it as a threat since they believe any public acknowledgement and/or discussion of terrorism in Malaysia will adversely affect the tourism industry.

3.  Joint Patrols – addressed as a measure that littoral states should conduct, in an effort to develop more effective multi national security cooperation, though, there did not appear to be deep interest or enthusiasm for this measure.

4.  Shiprider Program – discussed among the participants primarily as a way to help provide “continual” presence in an era of rapidly rising fuel costs.  There appeared to be genuine interest in this measure.

 

5.  Primary risk to their Country – 75% of conference participants identified a transnational threat and 25% chose an internal threat.  Of note, crime was identified as both the top transnational threat and top internal threat.

Survey Results.

1. Gaining Perspectives on Border-Control Threats, Challenges and Opportunities.

  • Understanding of Transnational Challenges – increased participants’ knowledge and understanding of transnational challenges within the maritime arena and how to eliminate or lessen these challenges.

2. Exchange Views for Improving Maritime Border Control.

  • Interaction and Views & Opinions of Other Countries – participants’ appreciated the open forum where all were encouraged to share opinions and perspective on transnational challenges enabling them to gain a greater understanding of the various challenges and constraints faced by each participating country.

3. Appreciation for Shared Maritime Border Control.

  • Report and Share Information – participants’ have a greater appreciation for shared maritime border control which they plan to report and share with colleagues, other agencies, and their superiors.

4. Facilitate Small-Group Identification of Ways and Means of Leveraging Effective Border Control.

  • Trust and Transparency – participants believed dialogue between nations were positive, open, and honest creating a foundation of trust and transparency.

5. Exchange Views on Next Steps Required to Improve Regional Maritime Border Control.

  • Cooperation – demonstrated to participants the need for cooperation through the realization that many issues related to border control cannot be solved by one country alone.
  • Mechanism for Information Sharing – participants agreed one of the next steps forward is the establishment of a mechanism to improve information sharing for active involvement and regular dialogues among the maritime border nations.
  • Bilateral/Multilateral Agreements – participants now appreciate the need for more agreements between maritime border nations in order to improve border control and properly deal with transnational crimes.

Overall Assessment.  The workshop achieved its objectives.  Analysis of participants’ survey feedback showed they gained a broader perspective on border-control threats, challenges and opportunities.  They increased their understanding of transnational challenges; exchanged views of the basic requirements for improving maritime border control; gained a better appreciation for shared maritime border control.  Participants identified ways of leveraging effective border control through gaining trust and transparency with participating nations.  Ideas were exchanged on courses of action required to improve regional maritime border control systems to include establishing a mechanism for information sharing and more bilateral/multilateral agreements.

SECTION 1:  Background

Purpose. A three-day maritime security conference co-sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) attracted parliament-level support from the Government of Malaysia (GOM), widespread participation from several Southeast Asian countries, and extensive media coverage.  Participants produced a consensus briefing outlining the primary security threats in the maritime domain, along with recommended courses of action for enhanced multinational and regional security cooperation.  One of the positive effects of this APCSS outreach event was to significantly raise the stature and visibility of MMEA, the primary GOM agency for maritime security in Malaysian waters. The event also paid dividends as a practical example of the ongoing USG commitment to an active and constructive Global Maritime Partnership within the Southeast Asian region.

Objectives.  This event is a follow-on multinational conference to the February 2007 land-border control conference held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The objectives of the workshop were to (1) gain a current understanding on various Southeast Asia countries’ perspectives on border-control threats, challenges and opportunities in the maritime domain; (2) exchange descriptions and views of the basic requirements for improving maritime border control; (3) gain a better appreciation for shared maritime border control; (4) facilitate small-group identification of ways and means of leveraging effective border control in the maritime domain to deter, interdict and lessen various forms of trafficking and other crimes detrimental to effective governance and population protection within the region; and (5) exchange participant way-ahead views on next steps required to improve regional maritime border control systems.

SECTION 2:  Workshop Findings

1.  Sovereignty. Sovereignty was expressly identified by numerous participants as a source of tension amongst participant nations.  “Sovereignty” concerns remain an inhibitor to more effective multi-national security cooperation.  By way of example, the opening ceremony included a keynote address by the Honorable Dato’ Haji Hasan Bin Malek, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.  He stated that:

“…As MMEA develops its capabilities, we envisage that MMEA, in the near future will be Malaysia’s focal point network for cooperation in maritime law enforcement issues among the countries in this region.  We welcome inputs and ideas from any other party who may wish to contribute to our effort in ensuring the safety and security of this region.  We must however always take into account the need to respect the sovereignty of states involved.” (underlining added).

2.  Terrorism.  Terrorism was identified by conference participants as a concern in Southeast Asia.  That said, a number of participants, especially Malaysians were loath to mention it as a threat.  If pressed, they would acknowledge concerns in this area, but would not put the issue on the table unilaterally.  In side-bar discussions two concerns were expressed with the “T” word.  First, the U.S. “War on Terrorism” is still perceived by some as a war against Islam.  Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country.  Second, any sort of acknowledgement of terrorism, is viewed as adversely impacting tourism.  In April 2000 a number of foreign tourists in Malaysia were kidnapped and transported to the Philippines, where one was executed.  This incident resulted in a dramatic drop in tourist to Malaysia.  The unstated concern is that any public acknowledgement and/or discussion of terrorism in Malaysia will adversely affect the tourism industry.

3.  Joint Patrols.  Current patrols in the Straits of Malacca are coordinated in nature.  The littoral states coordinate the patrols of their independent maritime assets.  The topic of joint patrols arose as a measure that littoral states should conduct, in an effort to develop more effective multi national security cooperation.  There was however, almost perfunctory discussion of the issue.  There did not appear to be deep interest or enthusiasm for this measure.

4.  Shiprider Program.   There are no shipriders programs in Southeast Asia.  The topic was briefed by an SME who described shiprider efforts in both the Caribbean and Oceania.  Shiprider programs were discussed among the participants primarily as a way to help provide “continual” presence in an era of rapidly rising fuel costs.  Operating one frigate with representatives from three nations was cheaper than operating three frigates.  This topic appeared less controversial than the topic of joint patrols and there appeared to be genuine interest in following up on the idea.  While enthusiasm and commitment are not easily measured in a short three day conference it appeared that participants were willing to explore this type of multinational cooperation.  Deputy Director MMEA seemed particularly interested.

 

5.  Primary risk.  When asked to characterize the primary risk to their country, 75% of conference participants identified a transnational threat and 25% chose an internal threat.  Of note, crime was identified as both the top transnational threat and top internal threat (see charts in Section 5).

 

 

SECTION 3:  Action Plans / Next Steps

 

1. The conference participants performed a subjective risk assessment which identified the primary maritime domain threats from the perspective of various national perspectives, as well as specific areas for future collaboration, most notably information sharing/fusion and various reconnaissance/patrol arrangements.  This assessment can be used as a basis for more rigorous information gathering, analysis, and as a reference point for strategic investment of limited national resources.

2.  The areas in which participants could not reach consensus (see para “2. Terrorism” above), represent issues that should be considered for further development through different regional security engagement mechanisms such as table top exercises, workshops and other outreach events.

3.  U.S. entities engaged in security cooperation efforts should identify and promote multinational maritime security cooperation opportunities in international and regional organizations (ASEAN, ARF, IMO, ASEANAPOL etc.).

APCSS should be considered as a catalyst and clearing house for follow-on activities with regional partners and organizations for the purpose of enhancing regional maritime domain awareness and maritime security cooperation and confidence building measures.

SECTION 4:  Participants’ Survey Analysis

Survey Methodology.  The Outreach Survey was administered to 100% of the 48 participants.  The survey was comprised of 4 qualitative questions, a rating scale question on logistical support, and an additional comment section.

Qualitative Results.

1. Gaining Perspectives on Border-Control Threats, Challenges and Opportunities.

Understanding of Transnational Challenges.  Participants increased their knowledge and understanding of transnational challenges within the maritime arena.  They felt the conference went into detail on various transnational challenges and how to eliminate or lessen these challenges.  Many expressed the fact they now understand more about the risks and threats seen at the borders.  In addition, the outreach provided them comprehensive knowledge on how to deal with current transnational issues.

2. Exchange Views for Improving Maritime Border Control.

Interaction and Views & Opinions of Other Countries. The outreach event provided the perfect forum for the interaction among the participants to share their views and opinions.  They appreciated the open forum where all were encouraged to share opinions and perspective on transnational challenges.  In this manner, participants gained a greater understanding of the various challenges and constraints faced by each participating country.  They made such statements as, “It was of great help to have interacted with participants from other Southeast Asian countries.  Their views and opinions contributed to my better understanding of the maritime regional security issues.”

3. Appreciation for Shared Maritime Border Control.

Report and Share Information.  Workshop participants have a greater appreciation for shared maritime border control.  As a result, they plan to report and share the information garnered with colleagues, other agencies, and their superiors.  They plan to share the information with superiors and colleagues to increase understanding and awareness about current situations with regional states and to drive new policies to address maritime border control.  This will include briefing their agency on outputs and providing recommendations for courses of action in their respective countries.

4. Facilitate Small-Group Identification of Ways and Means of Leveraging Effective Border Control

Trust and Transparency.  Small-group discussions facilitated the identification of ways and means of leveraging effective border control by establishing trust and transparency among participating nations.  Participants believed dialogue between nations were positive, open, and honest creating a foundation of trust and transparency.  Some felt these discussions helped remove all suspicions and baggage of the past and will allow them to move forward.

5. Exchange Views on Next Steps Required to Improve Regional Maritime Border Control.

Cooperation.  The event demonstrated to participants the need for cooperation.  The workshop “encouraged continued relations among countries involved.”  Participants realize many issues related to border control cannot be solved by one country alone.  Issues such as insurgencies, terrorism, and transnational crime require cooperation from all nations.  As a result, many stated they gained a greater awareness and appreciate the need to trust and commit to addressing border control challenges in Southeast Asia.”

Mechanism for Information Sharing.  Participants agreed one of the next steps forward is the establishment of a mechanism to improve information sharing.  They believe more effort needs to be expended on information and knowledge sharing.  The mechanism should allow for active involvement and regular dialogues among the maritime border nations.

Bilateral/Multilateral Agreements.  Participants now appreciate the need for more agreements between maritime border nations in order to improve border control and properly deal with transnational crimes.  The workshop allowed them “to verify useful steps to improve border control by having more bilateral patrol cooperation at border areas and also frequent effective agreements among countries involved.”

6. Logistics Feedback. All agreed or strongly agreed logistical support was excellent with over three-quarters of the participants strongly agreeing.  Participants made such statements as follows:

“All the staff and logistics, procedure, methods are so excellent and this is the way U.S. can gain trust from the other regions of the world, thank you.”

“A very impressive support by the team in logistics coordinations.  A big thank you to APCSS and MMEA for the wonderful and sincere support to the participants.  Very professional, very helpful and accommodating.  Excellence in all areas!  Well done!”

“A very well organized conference!  The break-out sessions and the polling was excellent!”

SECTION 5:  Regional Perspectives through Polling.

Participants were asked to respond to 10 conference and security-related polling questions at the end of the conference to receive some basic information on participants’ attitudes and beliefs.  The following charts depict the polling results:

APCSS Workshop Cost.  Approximately $102,070 was the total workshop cost.  MMEA provided in kind services that included transportation pickup and drop-off to and from the airport to hotel, secretariat support and one cultural dinner.

Contact Information.  For more information, please contact Assessment and Evaluation at (808) 971-8911 or email mcdonaldd@apcss.org.

 

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