“Bintulu Naval Base: Bolstering Surveillance in Beting Patinggi Ali, South China Sea”
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan said that Bintulu's proximity to Beting Patinggi Ali and the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea makes it a strategic location for establishing a new Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) base.
(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) – The government’s decision to build the Region 4 Naval Headquarters (MAWILLA 4) in Bintulu will further strengthen control and monitoring of the country’s waters in Sarawak, particularly Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals).
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan said that Bintulu’s proximity to Beting Patinggi Ali and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea makes it a strategic location for establishing a new Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) base.
Currently, any monitoring and security control of the waters at Beting Patinggi Ali and the country’s EEZ in the South China Sea are conducted using TLDM assets from the Kota Kinabalu Base in Teluk Sepanggar.
“At a speed of 12 knots, RMN ships from Teluk Sepanggar would take 19 hours to reach Beting Patinggi Ali, compared to just nine hours from Bintulu at the same speed,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) yesterday.
He mentioned that MAWILLA 4 will be built on a 200-acre area in the Samalaju Industrial Park (SIP), Tanjung Bogam in Bintulu. The construction will be carried out in two phases, demonstrating the central government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and defense of Sarawak state.
While there was previously no proposal to build an TLDM offshore station at Beting Patinggi Ali, the decision to construct MAWILLA 4 in nearby Bintulu will ensure continuous monitoring and surveillance of the waters around the shoals and EEZ in the South China Sea, which are frequently intruded upon by foreign vessels.
Last June, the Ministry of Defence stated that it had no plans to develop an Offshore Station at Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals).
This was confirmed by Mohamad Hassan in a written response to a question posed by Datuk Seri Dr. Haji Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor) on June 14th.
The former Health Minister asked whether the ministry had plans to develop an Offshore Station at Beting Patinggi Ali to position the country’s military assets, similar to what had been done in Sabah.
“The Ministry of Defense has no intention of implementing any development at Beting Patinggi Ali (BPA),” Mohamad Hasan said in his written response.
Geographically, Beting Patinggi Ali is located 84 nautical miles (155 km) from the coast of Miri (specifically at Tanjung Baram), Sarawak, and lies within Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
This shoal is situated at the southernmost point in the Spratly Islands group.
The seabed in the area around this shoal holds vast reserves of natural gas and oil, estimated to be worth billions of Ringgit.
Mohamad Hasan stated last June that the country’s EEZ waters offshore Sarawak, including those around Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals) and Beting Raja Jarom (Luconia Breaker), which are rich in oil and gas resources, would be defended “at any cost.”
He emphasized that these areas, such as the Kasawari Gas Field and Beting Patinggi Ali, contribute nearly 25 percent to Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as they are the sources of our oil and gas reserves, and therefore, they must be safeguarded “at any cost.” — DSA
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