KUALA LUMPUR: In a show of anger, controversial Umno divisional leader Jamal Md Yunos brought more than 50 fishermen from Sekinchan to protest against Indonesia’s alleged harassment of Malaysian fishing vessels.
The protest was held at the Indonesian embassy on Jalan Tun Razak here today.
The Sungai Besar Umno chief said the action taken by Indonesian maritime enforcers in shooting at a Sekinchan-registered boat and seizing two others in Malaysian waters on July 18 was irresponsible.
He said the protest was in solidarity with calls for Indonesia to free the 12 fishermen and return the two boats, estimated to be worth more than RM4 million, that were taken to Aceh following the incidents.
He added that if the Indonesians did not address the matter properly he would tie the embassy gates with a fisherman’s rope.
“We are together with the residents of Sekinchan and the boat operators in denouncing what happened when the two boats were seized and towed away while fishing in our national waters. Another managed to flee although it was shot at,” he said.
“The fishermen were making a living and what the Indonesian enforcers did exceeds the limits (of their powers),” he told reporters after handing over a memorandum on the matter to an embassy official.
Present were Umno’s Sungai Besar MP Budiman Mohd Zohdi and Sungai Besar MCA leaders.
On July 21, Budiman had said that the vessel, with the number SLFA 5099, was pursued by Indonesian maritime authorities who called on it to stop before opening fire when its operator refused.
He added that two other Sekinchan boats, bearing the numbers SLFA 4641 and SLFA 4948, that were also within Malaysia’s borders were later seized.
Budiman had also called on Indonesia to respect the bilateral agreement called the “Memorandum of Understanding in Respect of Common Guidelines Concerning Treatment of Fishermen by Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies” signed by the two governments on Jan 27, 2012.
Jamal told the embassy to convey his message to the Indonesian government to settle the issue properly.
“We are giving a warning to the Indonesian embassy today that if they are unable to help resolve this matter we will tie a rope used on boats to the gates of the embassy,” he said.
“We are not finding fault. It is they who are disturbing us. If we need to fly to Indonesia to negotiate, we will fly there.”
Jamal said he would agree with the Indonesian action if the fishing operators had indeed broken maritime regulations and encroached into the neighbouring country’s territory.
“We would agree if the Sekinchan fishermen did wrong and were fishing in Indonesian waters, but based on the information that we have, they had not entered Indonesian waters.
“This is not the first time such an incident has taken place. It has happened frequently, causing our fishermen to be fearful about operating in our own country’s waters.”
Jamal also took the Malaysian authorities to task for not doing an effective job in protecting local fishermen.
“We are very dissatisfied with our government agencies. Where was the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency when our boat was seized? Are the authorities responsible for overseeing our waters sleeping?”
He added that he would deliver another memorandum to a relevant ministry to have the problem resolved.
“We hope the relationship that has developed between our two countries is not damaged by such an incident,” he added.