SUBANG, 3rd August 2018 – As the participants sat in the conference room at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), they were regaled with tales of bravery and valour. Fighting pirates trafficking drugs on the high seas, saving lives, extinguishing rapacious forest fires and apprehending small armed robbers hijacking vessels closer to home are all in a day’s work for the brave men who patrol our waterways, keeping us safe in our homes.
This Technical Visit to Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Subang was organized by Society of Ingenieur, UNITEN. Upon reaching MMEA, the participants were greeted by Commander Salihin and his fellow coast guards. They were herded into a conference room where a brief introduction was held. Commander Salihin and Commander Al-Amin were the main speakers during the introduction.Their mannerisms spoke mountains of the heavy responsibility they carried on their shoulders.
With the roar of airplane engines punctuating each sentence, Commander Salihin gave a brief introduction regarding the history of MMEA. The MMEA is a non-military agency established during Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir’s previous term. Affectionately known among the coast guards as the “Children of Tun M”, the MMEA’s responsibilities include search and rescue missions (SAR), water border patrol and many others. Commander Salihin explained to the participants the ins and outs of water territory. For example, vessels traversing a certain country’s waterways must hoist the flag of said country and may not follow any type of military formation. He also shared with the participants stories of pirates on the high seas and highlighted a few of the many exploits of the MMEA. The participants were then given the liberty of asking questions regarding the MMEA, and any of the operations that they carry out. One participant even asked about flight MH370 and MMEA’s role in handling the tragedy.
After the introductory session, the participants were lead to the main hangar, where helicopters and amphibious vehicles sat with muted dignity. The participants were shown the various tools of the trade such as buoyant harnesses, life-saving jackets fitted with rebreathers and other high-tech implements, and also custom-made stretchers and carriages for rescuing adults and children alike. The participants were also allowed to enter the interiors of the vehicles occupying the spacious hanger. They could even sit in the pilot’s seat and examine the multitudes of dials and buttons that adorned the insides of the vehicles.
During the trip back to UNITEN, this writer couldn’t help but wonder what it must be like to carry such responsibilities. With lives at stake and only minutes to spare, it’s a wonder how the coast guard doesn’t crack under pressure. Everyday we live our lives oblivious of the risks being taken by these brave men and women to protect us and keep our waters safe. We would like to take this opportunity to salute everyone at MMEA for the sacrifices that they have made for the sake of Malaysia and all its citizens. May we all rest easy knowing that our lives are in capable hands.
Written by: Rayden Sia
Photos taken by: Heera Harshyini