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					SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE DATO’ SRI ONG TEE KEAT MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, MALAYSIA AT THE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF MARINE ENVIRONMENT IN THE STRAITS OF MALACCA AND SINGAPORE MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR 24 NOVEMBER 2008

_________________________________________________________ Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation Mr. Spyros Polemis, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping Mr. Yuri Gunadi, Director of Navigation, Transportation, Republic of Indonesia Department of Sea

Mr. Yee Cheok Hong, Group Director, Policy and Planning, Maritime and Port Authority, Republic of Singapore Captain Hartmut Hesse, Senior Deputy Director, Maritime Safety Division of the International Maritime Organization Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Captain Ahmad Othman, Director General of Marine, Marine Department Malaysia Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen A very good morning and warm greetings from Malaysia! 1. Firstly I welcome all participants of the Symposium, in particular

those from overseas to Malaysia. I hope that apart from the main business of attending the Symposium, you will also find time to explore and savour the sights and sounds of Malaysia. Let me also express my gratitude to the organizers for inviting me to officiate this International Symposium on Safety and Protection of Marine Environment in the

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Straits of Malacca and Singapore. I am also grateful to Indonesia and Singapore for allowing me to speak on behalf of the three littoral States.

2.

As we all know, this Symposium is organized jointly by the Nippon

Foundation of Japan and the Round Table of International Shipping Associations that comprises an international group of major players in the shipping industry. They are the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) and the International Association of Dry Cargo Ship Owners (INTERCARGO). I find it most encouraging that these major shipping industry groups have taken a big interest on the safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. They are doing this voluntarily in support of the Cooperative Mechanism that was only just recently established by the three littoral States.

3.

I was made to understand that this Symposium will specifically

explore the options for the shipping industry to support and cooperate with the littoral States to ensure that the Straits continue to be safe, secure and open to navigation. The three littoral States have long recognized that the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are among the most vital shipping lanes in the world. History shows that for centuries, the Straits were always favoured by mariners because of the seasonal winds that favoured sailing ships and the relative protection from the elements that the Straits accorded. The Straits also provided a shorter and safer route for ships’ navigation between the East and the West. Therefore, this meeting of the industry group in Kuala Lumpur is most appropriate, particularly at a time when global trade and international shipping must continue at its most efficient manner.
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Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

4.

You may recall that the Cooperative Mechanism was widely

accepted during the Singapore Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in 2007. The Cooperative Mechanism promotes the voluntary sharing of burden between the littoral States and the many users of the Straits. This is embodied in Article 43 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. It calls for the voluntary participation of all stakeholders, particularly users of the Straits in maintaining safety of navigation and protecting the marine environment, and ensuring that the Straits remain safe and open to shipping.

5.

The littoral States acknowledge that we have the primary

responsibility to maintain the Straits. I think Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have amply demonstrated that we have been the major sponsor of ensuring safety of navigation in the Straits. We have provided various aids to navigation. We have established more advanced aids like the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), Automated Ship Identification System (AIS) and comprehensive Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) coverage. We have also put in place full search and rescue service as well as oil spill combat facilities. However, we are of the opinion that the littoral States should not be the only sponsors of safety and environmental protection in the Straits.

6.

Thus, we believe the Cooperative Mechanism offers an excellent

opportunity to engage user States, the shipping industry and other stakeholders to participate and share the responsibility of maintaining and enhancing the safety of navigation and protection of the marine
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environment in the Straits. This burden-sharing approach is also practical for the Straits to continue serving international shipping as well as regional and global trade. I think it is most fitting that the people who should benefit most from the use of the Straits should also cooperate to ensure that the Straits continue to be safe and open to shipping.

7.

Perhaps this cooperative approach is now imperative. Studies

have shown that traffic in the Straits continue to rise, where it is estimated to touch 80,000 by the end of this year. While we accept this as fundamental for the growth of the world’s economy, we are at the same time concerned that this growth in shipping traffic must not be at the expense of the well-being of the littoral States or the Straits. We believe the growth in shipping traffic must be properly managed to ensure that there is no severe congestion that will hamper shipping efficiency and worst of all, compromise safety and the marine environment. That being the case, we welcome any initiative from the industry to cooperate with us to ensure the sustainable growth of shipping traffic in the Straits; and I personally believe that the forum offered by way of the Cooperative Mechanism is an excellent one.

8.

I believe our action in establishing the Cooperative Mechanism

has been amply justified by the excellent progress made in such a short time. I have been informed that the various components of the Cooperative Mechanism are now well into the implementation stage. This includes the setting up of the Aids to Navigation Fund for which Malaysia is the first host and provides the first Chairman, who is the Director General of Marine Malaysia. I am happy to note also that the Fund has already received a number of important contributions. While I digress, I should nevertheless mention our gratitude to the user States
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such as Australia, China, Greece, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, and United States as well as the Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and of course, the Nippon Foundation who have all contributed in many ways to the Cooperative Mechanism.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

9.

The three littoral States have a long-standing relationship with the

Nippon Foundation, who has an impressive record of cooperation with the littoral States in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which began during the late 1960s. Previously, the Nippon Foundation through the Malacca Straits Council assisted and contributed towards the

establishment and maintenance of a number of critical aids to navigation such as buoys, beacons and lighthouses. I understand the Nippon Foundation will continue to provide such cooperation. At this juncture, I on behalf of the three littoral States would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Nippon Foundation for their benevolence and hope that this will continue long into the future. I should also now, express our gratitude to Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation on the statement he just made to contribute USD 2.5 million to the Aids to Navigation Fund in early 2009. Thank you very much.

10.

This brings us appropriately to today, at this Symposium on the

Straits of Malacca and Singapore jointly organized by the Nippon Foundation and the Round Table partners. I think this Symposium is most useful for updating the awareness of the shipping industry on the Cooperative Mechanism. However, I also think that this Symposium is significant in underlining the desire and intent of the Nippon Foundation
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and the Round Table partners to continue cooperating with the littoral States in ensuring the safety of navigation and environmental protection of the Straits.

11.

I am sure the littoral States are heartened by this fine example

shown by the Nippon Foundation and the Round Table partners. I am confident we will see some tangible contributions from them and hope this will encourage others to emulate. I must also stress that they have always been supportive of the efforts of the three littoral States in developing the Cooperative Mechanism, even during the formative years beginning with the Jakarta Meeting in 2005 and the Kuala Lumpur Meeting in 2006 that was co-sponsored by the IMO. I am confident the kind cooperation that they show will only bring positive results to everyone associated with the Straits.

12.

I have been informed that there are about 200 participants

attending this Symposium. I thank all of you for your participation, especially those who have come from overseas. I find this overwhelming interest shown most encouraging as it demonstrates your continued interest and support towards safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. I recognize that this is the first opportunity since the inception of the Cooperative Mechanism for the wider group of those in the shipping industry to learn more about the Cooperative Mechanism. Once again I should thank the Nippon Foundation and the Round Table partners for making this possible through this Symposium. I should also express the littoral States’ sincere appreciation to the IMO for its continued support and advice and I am glad that it continues to have an interest in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. I understand the Marine Electronic Highway Demonstration
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Project for the Straits that is directly sponsored by the IMO is now in the implementation stage. I look forward for the successful completion of the Project, which I trust will greatly assist shipping traffic in the Straits.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

13.

In closing, let me reiterate that the littoral States are always

appreciative of the goodwill that exists between us and the many users of the Straits and other stakeholders. We are grateful to those who have contributed towards making the Straits safe for navigation over the years. We are hopeful that such goodwill will continue as we are convinced that it is the best approach for ensuring the Straits remain safe and open to shipping. We are also hopeful that this will be achieved by continuing the excellent partnership with the shipping industry. We are further hopeful that this Symposium will encourage many more in the industry to come forward and cooperate in whatever way to make the Straits safe, secure and environmentally sound.

14.

I wish all of you a very fruitful and successful discussion during the

Symposium. With those words, it is with great pleasure that I declare open the 2008 Kuala Lumpur Symposium on Safety and Protection of the Marine Environment in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

Thank you.

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