PHUKET CITY: Royal Thai Navy officers and their counterparts from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are taking part in the four-day ‘Intelligence Exchange Group Meetings’ aimed at boosting security in the Malacca Strait.

Leading the Thai contingent is Commander Suchart Thammapitak, Director of the Naval Civil Affairs Department at the Royal Thai Navy Third Naval Area Command Base at Cape Panwa.

The talks, which began yesterday, are being held at the Royal Phuket City Hotel.

The meeting will comprise talks among members of three different committees: Malacca Strait Patrol Joint Coordination Committee (MSP JCC), Malacca Strait Sea Patrol Joint War Committee (MSSP JWC), and ‘Eyes-in-the-Sky’ Joint War Committee (EiS JWC).

The meetings will include information exchanges, progress reports and discussions of a range of issues affecting safety and security in the Malacca Strait, through which about a quarter of all the world’s shipped oil passes.

Trilateral Co-ordinated Patrols for Malacca Straits were established in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia in 2004 to suppress pirate and terrorist attacks in the strait, one of the busiest shipping lanes.

It is hoped the talks will lead to the signing of a comprehensive new treaty between all four countries.

Thailand signed up to join the group patrols in September, 2008 and began joint operations the following month.

It has also been operating ‘Eyes in the Sky’ maritime aircraft patrols since January of this year.

Individual committee meetings take place three times annually and a general meeting takes place annually with the host city changing on a rotating basis.

Phuket is one of four designated control points for co-ordinated patrols, together with Belawan and Batam (Indonesia), Lumut (Malaysia), and Changi (Singapore).

— Sitthipong Nongkaew