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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08SINGAPORE1228 2008-11-19 09:10:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Singapore
Cable title:  

SINGAPORE CONCERNED ABOUT INDONESIAN PILOTAGE

Tags:   EWWT ETRD PBTS PHSA SN ID MY 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOS has conveyed in various senior and
working level meetings its concerns about Indonesia's launch
of a pilotage program for ships transiting the Malacca
Strait. Indonesia instituted a limited pilotage program in
September, and provided some detail on its thinking in a
presentation at a meeting of the Tripartite Technical Experts
Group (TTEG), a regular littoral state forum on navigational
safety, held in Kuching, Malaysia October 28 and 29. The
Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore participated
in the TTEG and told Emboffs and the U.S. Coast Guard on
November 7 of its concerns that Indonesia is testing the
currently voluntary program with an eye to making it
compulsory in the future, a worry Ambassador-at-large Tommy
Koh reiterated in a call on the Ambassador November 17 (ref
A). The GOS opposes mandatory pilotage schemes in
international waters, and MPA feels Singapore has little
recourse to persuade Indonesia to abandon its voluntary
program. However, Indonesia has agreed to develop a paper on
the issue jointly with Singapore and Malaysia, which will be
discussed at the next TTEG in October 2009 and then presented
to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). End
Summary.



2. (C) Indonesia gave a presentation outlining its voluntary
pilotage scheme during the Tripartite Technical Experts Group
(TTEG) meeting held in Kuching, Malaysia October 28 and 29,
Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) officials told Emboffs and
a U.S. Coast Guard officer on November 7. In its trial
phase, the pilotage program is currently voluntary and in
effect from Iyu Kecil to Nongsa Batam in Indonesia's
territorial waters south of the Malacca Strait. However, MPA
is concerned that Indonesia intends to make the pilotage
scheme compulsory in the future. Indonesia explained in its
presentation that it has trained 43 pilots for the program
and will continue to train more. MPA speculated that the
program may remain voluntary only until there are enough
trained pilots to make it mandatory. The GOI collects fees
for the piloting services, so there could be a financial
incentive to making the program compulsory, suggested Charles
Chew, Senior Assistant Director of MPA's Policy Division.



3. (C) In a separate meeting November 10 MFA told Poloff
that the relevant Indonesian law is written in a manner that
would authorize implementation of a compulsory pilotage
scheme in its territorial waters. Ambassador-at-large Tommy
Koh called on the Ambassador November 17 and made similar
comments, recalling shared U.S.-Singapore concerns that
Australia's imposition of mandatory pilotage in the Torres
Strait could be used as a precedent in Indonesia and
elsewhere. Ambassador Koh urged that language reaffirming
the right of free transit passage be included in a draft UN
General Assembly resolution on Oceans and the law of the sea
(ref A).



4. (C) Indonesia presented several reasons, including the
need to prevent accidents that have led to environmental
damage in the Strait, and referenced several precedents in
support of its decision to launch the pilotage program. The
presentation lists several examples in which nations have
legally instituted pilotage programs (e.g., in the Euro
Channel and the Baltic Sea). Indonesia also asserted that
"the geographic condition of Malacca Strait does not place
Malacca Strait as an international strait, but as a strait
'normally used for international navigation'." The GOI in
its presentation concludes that it "has the right to make
regulations relating to the transit passage and to conduct
necessary actions to keep international navigation safe" in
the Strait. (Note: Post has forwarded a copy of Indonesia's
TTEG PowerPoint presentation to L-OES/Ashley Roach. End
Note.)



5. (C) Indonesia has instituted the trial pilotage scheme in
waters already subject to a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)
that Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia previously agreed to
with the backing of the International Maritime Organization
(IMO). Florence Lim, Assistant Director of the International
Department for MPA's Policy Division, told Emboffs that MPA
is concerned that Indonesia's program could in fact
negatively affect navigational safety because vessels will
have to slow down to pick up Indonesian pilots in the Strait.
Indonesia has not addressed other potential legal
liabilities that could arise from an Indonesia pilot entering

Singapore waters, Lim added.



6. (C) In Lim's view, Indonesia decided to present the
details of its program at the TTEG as a way of legitimizing
it. She said Indonesia did not consult with Singapore or
Malaysia before instituting the program, which seems to
contravene the TSS. Singapore opposes compulsory pilotage
programs in international waters, and Malaysia has stated it
would not support a mandatory pilotage program in the Malacca
Strait (ref B). However, since the program is currently
voluntary and within Indonesian waters, Singapore has little
recourse to stop the program at this time. Instead, the
three states agreed at the TTEG to develop a paper on the
issue that would be discussed at the next TTEG in October
2009 and then presented to the IMO. The program will
continue in the meanwhile.



7. (C) MPA did not know how many ships had participated in
Indonesia's pilotage program thus far. Vessels unfamiliar
with the Strait and those carrying chemicals, oil or gas are
more likely to use the piloting service, but MPA sees little
demand for pilots overall. According to MPA, Indonesia did
not mention in its presentation any incentives or penalties
that vessels or shipping companies might incur for using or
not using the piloting service. For example, MPA said there
was no specific mention in Indonesia's presentation of higher
legal or financial penalties if a ship refuses a pilot and
then has an accident in the Strait.



8. (C) Singapore officials expressed interest in hearing USG
views on Indonesia's pilotage scheme. MPA also asked for an
update when available on discussions between Washington and
Canberra on Australia's mandatory pilotage program in the
Torres Strait (ref C), which Singapore, like the USG,
opposes. Emboffs asked about recent reports that Malaysian
Deputy Prime Minister Najib had suggested a need to set
limits on shipping in the Malacca Strait (ref B). MPA noted
that the question of shipping limits has not been raised
outside of Najib's comments. Lim indicated that there were
no discussions about this issue between Singaporean or
Malaysian officials at the TTEG.

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
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