May 2, 2005

Malaysia warns on private marine security escorts

Malaysia's Federal Director of Internal Security and Public Order, Datuk Othman Talib, has warned that only the marine police are permitted to provide security escort service to merchant vessels plying the Straits of Malacca.

Merchant ships using private armed escort services in Malysian waters face serious consequences.

Directives have reportedly been given to marine police commanders to detain any private in Malaysian waters and arrest the crew. A crew could be categorized as "terrorists" or "mercenaries" and charged under the Internal Security Act, Othman Talib reportedly said.

Any private security firm seeking to operate in Malaysia would need a permit from his ministry, local media and wire services report him as saying last week.

Othman Talib said the Marine Police provided free security escort services to merchant vessels whose owners feared attacks from pirates in the Straits.

"So far, we have received requests from owners of Japanese merchant vessels for security escort services.

Singapore-based Background Asia Risk Solutions claims to be "the leading provider of armed escorts in South East Asia for maritime escorts."

The escort services include the use of an armor plated "quick response escort vessel."

Cofounder and Managing Director of Background Asia is Alex Duperouzel. Prior to starting Background Asia, Duperouzel was a Managing Director with Kroll Associates in Hong Kong specializing in financial fraud investigations. He is registered in Australia as a Chartered Accountant and prior to coming to Asia in 1991 he worked in Australia on corporate reconstruction and insolvency issues.

The company's Director of Operations is Bryan Toki, whose background is described as including "20 years in an elite unit in the New Zealand military."


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