Australia and Malaysia today announced the successful conclusion of Operation REDBACK XIV, a joint border protection exercise to fight maritime crime in the Malacca Strait, near Langkawi, Kedah.
Director of Maritime Enforcement and Coordination Division, First Admiral Nurul Hizam bin Zakaria said, this Operation REDBACK XIV focused on people smuggling and human trafficking, these are two key issues of concern for the Australian and Malaysian governments. The Operation shows the close relation between Malaysia Coast Guard and Australian Border Force in sharing intelligence and expertise on border security to reinforce combined effectiveness and capability.
“The close ties between Malaysia and Australia has definitely contributed the success of this 14th Operation Redback in combatting maritime security threat together. We both have significant maritime borders; we are serious about cooperating on security in our region and are committed to combatting threats in the maritime domain,” said Nurul Hizam.
He also added that Malaysia is currently facing the movement of people from Myanmar to Malaysia, and that in 2015, it is estimated about 25,000 people travelled across the Andaman Sea and went to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Therefore, this operation provides a significant opportunity for Malaysia to improve its maritime border response capabilities.
Deputy Commander for Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders, Australian Border Force Commander Tony Smith said that Operation Redback was an important deterrent to illegal maritime activity and that the issue of maritime people smuggling has not gone away.
“The victims of these transnational crimes are tricked by criminals and their lives are put at risk. The threats are very real so we all have an important role to play defeating these syndicates and saving lives at sea.” Commander Smith said.
In June 2019, Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders launched an information campaign, Zero Chance of Illegal Migration, warning that anyone who tries to come to Australia illegally by boat will be intercepted and returned.
“We want people in the region to understand the truth so they will not be exploited by people smugglers. This policy is designed to deny people smugglers a product to sell, protect Australia’s borders and importantly, prevent deaths at sea,” Commander Smith said.
Nurul Hizam said, so far this year, the Malaysia Coast Guard has disrupted 768 cases involving people smuggling and maritime crime activities, with 120 cases of undocumented immigrants with 725 undocumented immigrants from several neighbouring countries have been arrested. This success underlines the value of this joint training exercise like Operation Redback.