KUCHING: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak Region has denied receiving any directive to remove Malaysian flags from Beting Patinggi Ali, also known as the Luconia Shoals.
Its chief First Admiral Ismaili Bujang Pit said social media postings claiming that MMEA took down the flags, which had gone viral, were all false.
“The writer of such postings, of which identify has yet to be ascertained, claimed Maritim Malaysia (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency) was directed to remove the Malaysian national flags which were put up by an Australian citizen on Beting Patinggi Ali. Maritim Malaysia denies such allegation and there was not even any official report on such incident.
“It is also not true that Maritim Malaysia’s Bombardier aircraft flew low on Beting Patinggi Ali when such incident happened. This is not possible because any patrolling by Maritim Malaysia’s assets would have already been recorded and reported to the top management.
“On the allegations that the agency had taken out Malaysian national flags upon directive from Putrajaya, this is also not true and no such thing had happened. There were no such directives issued to remove flags on Beting Patinggi Ali ever since the monitoring operation commenced there since 2013,” he said yesterday.
He revealed that for the record, MMEA together with Royal Malaysia Navy has been monitoring the movement of China Coast Guard vessels since March 2013. He also said patrolling to Beting Patinggi Ali was conducted often as control measures against China Coast Guard vessels within the waters of the shoals.
“There has been no undesirable incident happening there, and Maritim Malaysia has been doing its best to ensure the waters off Beting Patinggi Ali remain safe for our fishermen and maritime community,” he said.
Beting Patinggi Ali, some 84 nautical miles off the Miri coast, is well within Malaysian territorial waters. The shoals are clearly within the Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone, going by the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (Unclos 1982).
There had been reports of intrusion by China Coast Guard vessels, and of Malaysian fishermen being chased away from the shoals.