29 November 2014

Plans to set up maritime training hub for ASEAN Member States


 Mandalay, Myanmar — YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Transport met with his Chinese counterpart, the Minister of Transport, HE Yang Chuantang on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting to discuss bilateral matters. 

 Discussion focused on the ongoing underwater search operations for MH370. YB Dato’ Sri Liow reiterated that MH370 remains a top priority, and the Government of Malaysia is fully dedicated to continue the search along with the Governments of China and Australia.

“Malaysia is humbled and grateful for the tremendous support given by China thus far in our time of need. China continues to make available a host of valuable assets and resources as part of the search efforts. Its survey vessel Zhu Khezhen also collaborated in the survey operations to gather data from the seafloor, which was utilised for mapping the terrain of the search area. This is a clear reflection of the strength of Malaysia and China’s ties.”

The ongoing underwater search which involves a comprehensive exploration of the sea floor has covered over 7,000 square kilometres thus far. In addition to locating the missing aircraft, the search aims to identify any crucial evidence, such as aircraft wreckage and flight recorders, to assist with the Malaysian investigation. 

To keep the public informed of the latest developments of the search operations, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have been conducting a series of technical briefings to media. The latest briefing was held on 26 November 2014 focusing on the technical aspects of the search thus far including details on the bathymetric survey, the underwater search and the review as well as analysis of all data and information relating to the likely flight path of MH370, together with information acquired in the course of the search to date.

YB Dato’ Sri Liow reiterated, “The search area is immense and is located in deep waters with very rugged terrain. The search utilises specialised vessels operated by teams of qualified experts including Fugro Discovery and Fugro Equator, jointly funded by Malaysia and Australia, as well as GO Phoenix which is a Malaysian Government furnished equipment. The Fugro Equator is currently undertaking the bathymetric survey and will later join the underwater search efforts.”

YB Dato’ Sri Liow also welcomed the establishment of the Silk Road Economy Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road with a view to unlocking greater economic opportunities between China and ASEAN. The rejuvenation of the Maritime Silk Road will be a catalyst to spur enormous opportunities for China as well as ASEAN to expand cooperation in areas of mutual interest. The Silk Road initiative aims to strengthen connectivity in order to support economic growth and trade activities in the region, serving as a viable opportunity for ASEAN countries to expedite the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. 

“To underpin the close and viable cooperation between our two nations, I am pleased to note that the Qinzhou Port in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has become a sister port of Kuantan. The two ports will co-operate in various fields including shared shipping lanes, logistics, information exchange and talent training.”

In the past, the People’s Republic of China has offered technical assistance and numerous capacity building programmes, providing maritime training and education to ASEAN member states, particularly in the training of seafarers. To reciprocate, Malaysia has offered its Maritime Training Institutes to collaborate closely with Chinese experts with a view towards developing a training hub for the ASEAN region. The Governments of Malaysia and China are discussing the mechanism of the collaboration, including the hosting of the regional programme. The cooperation aims to leverage on collective resources, which would certainly benefit other ASEAN member states.