Oct 182014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2008-05-23 11:41
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

O 231141Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A



¶1. (SBU) The Tri-border Interagency Security Conference in
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, May 4-7, 2008 brought together
official maritime and border security delegations from
Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as
facilitators from the U.S. Pacific Command and from Embassies
Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore and Manila. The small-group
setting allowed for candid, intensive discussions and
productive brainstorming. The tri-border nations provided
updated information on their respective efforts to improve
security in the tri-border region, including increasing the
frequency of cross-border committee exercises, developing
civilian maritime law enforcement agencies, and enhancing
their domain awareness, in part with USG support.

¶2. (SBU) Building upon policy recommendations from the
Trilateral Maritime Security Conference in Cebu, Philippines
in August 2007, delegations identified additional actions
that could be taken now to enhance capacity in the near-term.
Some of these included implementing existing information
sharing agreements, improving interagency cooperation within
and among tri-border nations, and establishing transit
corridors. Delegations described elements they believed
necessary to achieve long-term regional security, including:
updating border agreements to reflect non-traditional
threats, developing more detailed analyses of the costs of
regional insecurity, and exploring sectoral arrangements for
coordinating regional patrols. The tri-border conference,
jointly funded by PACOM’s Joint Interagency Coordination
Group (JIACG) and the State Department Coordinator for
Counterterrorism, demonstrated how U.S. interagency
cooperation can support of the Administration’s Southeast
Asia Counterterrorism Regional Strategic Initiative. End

Overlapping Priorities in the Tri-border

¶3. (SBU) In their opening presentations, the tri-border
nations conveyed different, though overlapping security
priorities. The Indonesian delegation was led by Maj Gen
Aryanto Boedihardjo, IG and Deputy Chief of the Indonesian
National Police. He identified smuggling, illegal fishing,
armed robbery at sea, terrorism and a worsening economic
situation as causes for growing concern over stability in the
tri-border region. He recognized that the border between
Indonesia and Malaysia has yet to be clarified. The
Indonesian delegation signaled the need for greater
interagency cooperation between police, customs and the
Coordinating Body for Maritime Law Enforcement (BAKORKAMLA).
It also highlighted the need for improved patrol and
communications capabilities. While some practical bilateral
security agreements had been worked out between police
forces, the delegation called for border committees to
enhance their interagency participation, expanding beyond
their origins as military-to-military forums. Finally,
Indonesia announced the recent decision to form the Sea and
Coast Guard, but noted that details about the new
organization would have to await further legislation.

¶4. (SBU) The leader of the Malaysian delegation, RADM Dato’
Jamil bin Osman, Joint Forces Headquarters Chief of Staff,
spoke of the geo-strategic importance of the Sulu and Celebes
seas as home to important sea lanes of communication and
critical natural and economic resources. He recognized the
need for more concrete outcomes from coordination,
highlighting interagency efforts both internal to the GOM –
as in the development of its Government Interoperable Radio

Network – as well as those involving donor assistance – such
as with the USG Title 1206 radar program. While the
delegation mentioned existing bilateral agreements and
frameworks, some of which had recently seen increases in the
tempo of joint cross-border operations, it also noted the
lack of trilateral arrangements. The delegation signaled
that certain multilateral forums might prove useful over the
longer-term, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum for addressing
security issues and the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines
East Asia Growth Area’s Customs Immigration Quarantine and
Security (BIMP/EAGA-CIQS) cluster for consideration of
port/border safety issues.

¶5. (SBU) The Philippine delegation head, Navy Captain Miguel
Rodriguez, Director of the Coast Watch South Liaison Office,
spoke of the tri-border region as vitally important for
regional commerce, natural resources, fisheries, and tourism.
He catalogued safety threats, including lack of
infrastructure and aids to navigation; economic threats,
including piracy, smuggling, and trafficking; environmental
threats, including dynamite fishing and pollution; and
security threats linked to terrorism and the MILF insurgency.
While threats are manifold, the delegation noted the recent
absence of major incidents, signaling that important “things
are being done right.” In this connection, the Philippines
delegation cited numerous efforts to coordinate border
patrols, exercises, and port security. The delegation
discussed slow but resolute progress to create Coast Watch
South as a single point of contact and coordination for
maritime law enforcement activity in the Philippines’ portion
of the tri-border region.

Picking Up From Cebu

¶6. (SBU) Drawing on the recommendations from the third
Trilateral Maritime Security Conference held in Cebu,
Philippines in August 2007, former Philippine Defense Under
Secretary Rodel Cruz explored measures to close the gap
between long-standing bilateral agreements and a nascent
trilateral framework. Cruz first underscored the context of
major unilateral developments around the tri-border: creation
of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA),
increased deployment of security forces in Sabah to safeguard
the region’s tourism industry and counter terrorist transit;
Indonesia’s recent creation of BAKORKAMLA and the Sea and
Coast Guard; and the Philippines’ development of Coast Watch

¶7. (SBU) Cruz highlighted the increasing frequency of
bilateral operations and encouraged cross-boarder committees
to develop interagency standard operating procedures, single
points of contact, and information sharing agreements. He
pointed to a number of bilateral initiatives: a recent
agreement to increase Malaysia/Philippines joint border
control operations from two to three times yearly; and the
exchange of immigration personnel at border crossing points
between Indonesia and the Philippines. Malaysia’s Chief of
Defense Forces recently announced the intention to consider
using the “Eyes in the Sky” joint air patrol program,
currently in the Straits of Malacca, along the land border
between Malaysia and Indonesia on Borneo.

¶8. (SBU) Cruz noted that, compared to the areas within the
region that are “bilateral,” the portion of the region that
is “trilateral” is quite small. He suggested that
unilateral and bilateral trends belie slower progress within
the trilateral arena. He spoke of the continuing need, six
years to the day after it was signed, to operationalize the
May 7, 2002 Agreement on Information Exchange and
Establishment of Communication Procedures. The Agreement
covers a range of border security and transnational crimes,

such as terrorism, money laundering, smuggling, piracy,
trafficking, marine pollution, etc. Cruz also singled out
multilateral agreements such as the 2007 ASEAN Convention on
Counterterrorism, BIMP/EAGA and The Regional Cooperation
Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships
in Asia (ReCAAP). Finally, he suggested leveraging
trilateral cooperation in the Straights of Malacca,
encouraging the parties to the MALSINDO agreement to allow
Philippines observers.

Cooperation and Near-Term Capacity Building

¶9. (SBU) PACOM Future Operations and Plans Specialist, CAPT
USCG (ret.) Steve Newell addressed the conference on
fundamental aspects of building security capacity. Only a
small part of the solution could be found using technology,
he stressed. The need for cooperation exists regardless of
the level of technology, and the present phase, during which
equipment was still being acquired, offered an important
window to improve interagency and international cooperation.
Newell stressed that interagency coordination was necessary
in order to effectively use situational awareness to
interdict and eventually successfully prosecute transnational
criminals. He noted the inverse relationship between the
abundance of resources and the propensity to cooperate, but
cautioned that the situation of any one agency was dynamic
and likely to shift as responsibilities and authorities
placed upon it were adjusted to reflect its resources.
Delegations were divided into country groups along with
facilitators from PACOM and from the respective embassy teams
and asked to identifying short lists of policy or process
improvements that would allow for near-term capacity

¶10. (SBU) Malaysia’s delegation suggested: extending the
Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High
Seas (INCSEA) to include all government vessels, not just
naval assets. It also proposed conducting a regional study
to identify the costs of failing to counter illegal activity
in the tri-border region. The group suggested establishing
better interagency information sharing processes that could
be introduced within bi- or tri-lateral forums such as the
general border committees. It also recommended conducting
operations to enable documentation of the extent of illegal
fishing and of smuggling. Lastly it proposed establishing
transit corridors linked to border crossing posts.

¶11. (SBU) For its part, the Philippines’ delegation
recommended improvements to its own interagency cooperation
within Coast Watch South. In particular, the delegation
suggested introducing standard operating procedures for
information sharing to prevent individual agencies being
caught off-guard by the efforts of others. The delegation
proposed increasing the specificity of the Coast Watch South
Executive Order. Finally, it suggested expanding the mandate
of border crossing committees to include broader interagency
participation from both sides.

¶12. (SBU) The Indonesian delegation expressed an eagerness
to generate more robust protocols for its internal
interagency interoperability and information sharing. It
resolved to press for high-level support for implementation
of the 2002 Agreement on Information Sharing. It also
supported the identification of single points of contact for
border security. Lastly, it suggested establishing a
technical working group to provide continuity between
previous and future meetings and to prepare for the next
Trilateral Maritime Security Conference which will be held in
Indonesia. The group will consist of representatives from
the Foreign Ministry, BAKORKAMLA, the Department of
Fisheries, police, military, the newly established Sea and
Coast Guard, and other interested organizations.

The Vision Thing

¶13. (SBU) Having identified specific suggestions for
addressing near-term capacity building needs in each
tri-border country, the delegations were divided into two
multi-national interagency groups to explore various elements
comprising their medium- and longer-term visions of the
tri-border region. The delegates were asked to make
non-binding recommendations that could guide specific future
policy actions.

¶14. (SBU) Using the Straits of Malacca as an example for
coordination success, both among littoral nations as well as
for user nations or “donors,” the delegations means of
improving cooperation in the Sulu/Celebes Seas region.
Delegates agreed on the need to document the economic impact
of failing to improve regional security. Tri-border
delegates drew the analogy from the Straits, where Lloyds of
London’s war-risk rating, by clearly articulating the costs
associated with unresolved problems of piracy, catalyzed
political commitment to cooperatively address shared security
issues. Delegates agreed an important next-step was for each
country to commission a national-level economic impact study
detailing positive and negative consequences of improving
regional security versus preserving the status quo of
maritime, port and border security in the Sulu and Celebes
Seas. Delegates also suggested that the three nations might
pool their data within a common analytical framework and
compare the results from the national-level studies. All
three delegations stressed the value of using the results of
such studies to inform political decision-making affecting
legal and policy arrangements for cooperation as well as
funding decisions about upgrading and improving security
resources. In addition to an overarching economic analysis
and national studies, the delegations suggested analyses
focused on establishment of sea corridors linked to border
crossing stations; a vessel registry data exchange; a vessel
traffic management system; and new biometric systems for
border crossing documentation. All called for implementation
of the 2002 Agreement on Information Exchange and
Establishment of Communications Procedures.

¶15. (SBU) Both break-out groups recognized that the ability
to promote wider interagency collaboration across borders
would need to begin at home with more robust forums within
each nation to foster interagency relationship building.
Accordingly, delegates voiced the need to update their
current border agreements to suit non-traditional,
transnational security challenges in order to better reflect
the current threat environment. They imagined that in the
future, tri-border states would conduct continuous,
coordinated patrols under such revised border agreements.
They suggested developing regional training standards,
exchanges, curricula and facilities to include coastal issues
and integrate civilian enforcement personnel. They proposed
adopting continuous improvement of interagency coordination
processes, drawing lessons from neighboring states. They
suggested establishing crossing corridors aligned with
“joint” or co-staffed border crossing stations. The
delegations additionally proposed developing and refining
proximate sectors or “Areas of Responsibility” assigned to
each nation and coordinating air and maritime patrols of
those sectors in a manner similar to that used in the Straits
of Malacca (i.e. MALSINDO and “Eyes in the Sky”). Delegates
proposed the name “MALPHILINDO” for such a proximate
“sectoring” arrangement and combined patrols. Finally,
delegations recommended combined multi-agency table-tops and
exercises to support long-term multinational interoperability
of communications platforms and systems.

¶16. (SBU) Strengthening sustainability through the
cultivation of greater civic responsibility represented
another thread running through the discussion. Delegates
emphasized the need to develop effective feedback mechanisms
to authorities from affected populations through, for
example, broader use of “community based policing” and
neighborhood watch-type organizations. They discussed
establishing rewards programs in conjunction with enhanced
public involvement, awareness and education regarding border
and environmental protection issues. They proposed providing
incentives for responsible tourism activity and community
involvement in local tourism development, including
“homegrown” specialties such as dive masters, local guides,
craft producers, and managers of sustainable marine
resources. Longer-term, they envisioned developing
coordinated multi-year regional sustainable economic
development programs along with public education curricula
for the next generation to include environmental protection,
sustainable development, and coastal resource management.

¶17. (SBU) The two groups proposed making better use of
existing multilateral forums. For safety and trade-related
issues, they agreed that there was more that could be done in
the context of the BIMP-EAGA CIQS cluster. They proposed
establishing procedures for expediting perishable goods
through single shared checkpoints (instead of through two
distinct national ones). They encouraged reviewing lists of
prohibited goods and sharing them across borders. Regarding
security-related issues, the groups proposed supporting the
development of an ASEAN maritime forum. They also proposed
tailoring existing exercises to address the development of
multilateral capabilities. The groups suggested that work
continue to ensure compliance with international cargo, sea
and airport security standards (ISPS/CSI/ICAO); to
operationalize the Information Sharing Center under ReCAAP;
and to expand shared databases (ASEANPOL). Other suggestions
included: supporting the Sulu-Sulawesi Large Marine
Eco-Region Project; enforcing the Illegal, Unregulated,
Unreported (IUU) Fishing Convention; ratifying and enforcing
the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; and establishing a portion
(or portions) of the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea as a “Particularly
Sensitive Sea Area” (PSSA) or Marine Environmental High Risk
Area (MERA).


¶18. (U) The Malaysian hosts had the largest delegation. It
was led by RADM Dato’ Jamil bin Osman, Joint Forces
Headquarters Chief of Staff and included: Abd Rahim Hussin,
NSC Under Secretary for Maritime Policy; FADM Martitime
Zulkifli bin Abu Baker, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement
Agency; Deputy Director Tuan Rosdi bin Mudah, Royal Malaysian
Customs; ACP Abd Manaf bin Othman, Royal Malaysian Marine
Police; ACP Ahmad bin Haji Kenajaan, Royal Malaysian Police
Special Branch; Rizany Irwan bin Ishak, MFA Principal A/S for
Maritime Affairs; and Hamza bin Ishak, NSC Principal A/S for
Maritime Policy.

¶19. (U) The Indonesian delegation was led by Maj Gen Aryanto
Boedihardjo, IG and Deputy Chief of the Indonesian National
Police Uniformed Patrol Division. It included: High
Commissioner Isnarno, Deputy Commander of the National Police
Maritime Police Unit; Jonggung Sitorus, Transport Department
Chief of Marine Safety; and Hendi Santosa, Law and Human
Rights Department Chief of the Sub-Directorate of Law of the
Sea and Air.

¶20. (U) The Philippines’ delegation was led by Philippine
Navy Captain Miguel Rodriguez, Director of the Coast Watch
South Liaison Office. It included: Senior Superintendent

Ferdinand Yuzon, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Maritime
Group (PMG); Chief Inspector Oliver Tanseco, PMG Chief of
Operations and Plans; Winston Almeda, MFA Special Assistant
to the U/S for Ocean Concerns; Marine Major Marcelino,
Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency; and Jesse Pascsio, Coast
Watch South researcher.


¶21. (SBU) While the many near- and longer-term
recommendations tabled by the conference delegates were
non-binding, at least two of the delegations are forming
groups to follow-up on the conference outcomes. One of the
recurring themes among the recommendations was the need for a
broader interagency approach to tri-border security. Working
together, embassy teams and PACOM can leverage events such as
this conference, exercises, and ongoing capacity and
resource-building programs (e.g. Titles 1206/1207/1210) to
reinforce in practice a whole of government approach with our
host nation counterparts. On the sixth anniversary of its
signing, the tri-border delegations recognized the continuing
need to implement the 2002 Agreement on Information Exchange
and Establishment of Communication Procedures. Embassies and
Washington might consider whether and how to help focus
tri-border governments’ attention on the benefits of
implementing this agreement.

¶22. (SBU) Delegations acknowledged the political benefit of
quantifying costs linked to insecurity in the tri-border
area, as was done in the Straits of Malacca. They noted that
such a clearly-articulated cost of insecurity in the
tri-border region was lacking, and wondered whether it could
be quantified. A question worthy of USG interagency
consultation would be whether we could provide or help fund a
well-focused, action-oriented research project that would be
useful to the tri-border countries as they seek to analyze
and to derive clear policy conclusions about the opportunity
costs of continued regional threats.

¶23. (SBU) Looking ahead to the next Trilateral meeting in
late 2008, we are eager to learn more about the Indonesian
delegation’s pledge to create a technical working group to
prepare for the trilateral conference, and how we may be of
support. Delegations and USG partners are keen to take stock
of recommendations made to date and to assess tangible
progress toward implementation. The Kota Kinabalu conference
showed that all participants are well-served by early,
cooperative engagement not only to establish parity and broad
interagency representation among delegations, but also to lay
the groundwork for concrete outcomes from the proceedings.

¶24. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassies Kuala
Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila, and DHS/Singapore, USPACOM/JIACG and




Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.