Livelier Economy is Important to Guard the North Natuna Sea

Diana Mariska
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD in Natuna, Riau Province.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD in Natuna, Riau Province. - The Indonesian government admitted that improving a socioeconomic development in the North Natuna Sea is as equally important as strengthening the security aspect to guard the much-disputed sea area.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said the administration is committed to create a strong economy in small and outermost islands, including for local people surrounding the North Natuna Sea, as it’s seen as an ‘effective’ mean to safeguard the area.

“It’s not only about improving law enforcement in defense and security on our sea. President [Joko Widodo] has said that no matter how much weaponry, soldiers, polices we put out there, it wouldn’t be effective if we don’t develop the socioeconomics,” the Chief Security Minister said in Natuna on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

If Natuna enjoys a ‘lively’ economy, he is optimistic that the work to defend the area from external threats will become easier.

Defense-wise, Mahfud said the government will continue to enhance defense from and to increase presence in the air, land, and sea.

“Back in 2020 when Chinese vessels were very provocative, the President came here. We said that this is our territory, and it was terrifying for them that we showed our presence. So they slowly retreated,” the Coordinating Minister said.

Ensuring that concerning stakeholders understand their authority and responsibility is also an equally important measure. Mahfud said the government continues to maintain coordination and synergy with maritime stakeholders on the proper handling of different incidents at sea.

“How to deal with thieves, spy ships, smuggler. All internal resources must be synergized,” he reminded.

This multidimensional approach is expected to bring sustainable result as the Indonesian government has been repeatedly involved in disputes with the Chinese government over territorial claim of the North Natuna Sea, or globally recognized as South China Sea.

In January 2020, Indonesia was involved in a standoff with China after Chinese coast guards accompanied Chinese fishing vessels into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the sea. According to the 1982 United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNLCOS), Indonesia has sovereign rights over the EEZ.

Several actions have been taken by the Indonesian government since the standoff, including sending large fishing boats from Java to occupy the North Natuna Sea and starting the discussion on omnibus law on maritime security affairs which aims to resolve the overlapping tasks and authorities of several different agencies to guard Indonesian waters.

Tag # maritime # mahfud md # security # north natuna sea # south china sea # national

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