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A Sarawak Coast Guard vessel participates in a search and rescue operation. ― Picture courtesy of MMEA
A Sarawak Coast Guard vessel participates in a search and rescue operation. ― Picture courtesy of MMEA

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KUCHING, Oct 6 ― Search and rescue (SAR) operations for 15 anglers in two separate missing boat incidents in waters around Kuching over the weekend have led to calls for better inter-agency cooperation.

Among those calling for a refinement of state and federal SAR operations jurisdiction is Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who pointed out the agencies involved are the Sarawak Coast Guard (SCG), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), and Civil Defence Force (APM).

“I, for example, just found out why SCG could not be deployed for the SAR operation on the first day. I do hope that all the agencies involved would be able to cooperate in this matter because human life is important and through SCG, we only want to help during the time of disasters,” he told reporters during a visit to the SAR control post at the Telaga Air public jetty last night.

He stressed that SCG was established by the state government for surveillance and rescue purposes.

“SCG’s jurisdiction is limited as they cannot go beyond certain distance out to sea and they require permission from Kuala Lumpur before they can proceed for any operations. The purpose to form SCG is also not for security or for going to war with other countries, but for surveillance and rescue too.

“Deep sea areas on the other hand comes under MMEA and the coastal area is under Bomba, so in any SAR, it is an emergency situation and every related agency is supposed to come together and help as fast as possible,” he said.

He also pointed out the Sarawak government had spent about RM80 million to set up the SCG, which was formed to assist with surveillance and disasters due the size of Sarawak’s waters and borders.

SAR operations continue today for five anglers who failed to return to the Telaga Air jetty on Sunday (October 3) and the fishing boat first mate, who went missing on Saturday (October 2).

The latter, identified as Awang Omar Awang Hamsawi, disappeared after the vessel he was travelling in with nine others, who have since been rescued, capsized about two nautical miles off Pulau Satang Besar, Telaga Air.

The five individuals in the incident on Sunday were reported to have gone missing somewhere between Karang Berumput or Tukun Bass and Tanjung Datu. ― Borneo Post

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