Malaysiakini News

High seas drama continues as detained ‘pirates’ may be Thai cops

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa, Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Conflicting accounts have emerged over what happened in the waters near Pulau Langgun in Langkawi two days ago, where Malaysian authorities alleged an armed robbery took place.

Thai authorities claimed that the three Satun policemen and a deputy village head who were arrested by Malaysian authorities were merely carrying out their duty in stopping foreign fishermen from trespassing in Thailand waters.

"Both sides (Malaysia and Thailand) have their own claims, but we will talk about them (the claims from both sides) later.

“For now, we want the people (four Malaysians and four Thais) to return to their families for Hari Raya (Aidiladha)," Satun governor Pattanapon Rattanapichetchai said to Bernama on Tuesday.

Rattanapichetchai said investigations into finding which side was at fault in the incident would take time, and could mean all the men currently detained by Thai and Malaysian authorities would be unable to celebrate Aidiladha on Wednesday with their loved ones.

Both sides said talks were needed with each other after Aidiladha to resolve the matter, he added.

As a result of a meeting between Thai and Malaysian officials chaired by Rattanapichetchai Monday, four of the Malaysian fishermen held at the Satun police station were released by Thai authorities at about 11 pm local time on Monday and returned to Langkawi.

The Thai side hopes that Malaysian authorities would reciprocate their gesture and release the three police officers and the deputy village headman currently being held in Langkawi.

Monday's meeting, according to Rattanapichetchai, went very well, with both sides supporting each other’s efforts in resolving the matter and preventing it from escalating.

He added that Malaysian authorities wanted to find measures through the establishment of a committee where both sides could discuss any issue in areas such as human trafficking, drugs and illegal fishing.

The meeting also agreed for both sides to meet more often and discuss issues regularly, he said.

Deterring trespassers

Despite the claim by Malaysian authorities of a robbery, the Thai side countered it and claimed that a group of seven police officers, along with the Tanjung Po village head and his deputy, were patrolling waters near Koh Sam (Pulau Tiga) to deter trespassing foreign fishermen.

The patrol party tried to apprehend the trespassing foreign fishermen when the Malaysian authorities arrived and detained the three Satun policemen and deputy village head for alleged robbery.

They were taken to Langkawi for questioning and their three pistols were confiscated, while the four Malaysian fishermen detained by the Thai authorities were transferred to Satun.

The seven policemen, including the three currently detained in Langkawi, have since been suspended from duty pending an official investigation, Satun Police chief Maj Gen Supphawat Tapkiew said to Bernama.  

- Bernama

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