PETALING JAYA: Local actors want a bigger slice of the marine salvage pie and are asking the government to help them out.

Bumi Jaya Salvage and Engineering Sdn Bhd Director Datuk Ng Ban Hock said Malaysia may require foreign rescue companies to hire local partners when working in Malaysian waters, as is done in Indonesia. .

Ng added that the government should also require that all fees be paid to a local partner before the part owed to a foreign partner is paid.

He said it could help the government recover millions of ringgits in taxes that it would otherwise lose.

Unlike Indonesia, foreign companies dominate rescue operations in Malaysian territorial waters, which is estimated to be around 500,000 km².

Rescue activity would be worth billions given that the Strait of Malacca is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

There has been a constant increase in maritime traffic in the straits. Last year, 141,000 ships crossed the Strait, up from 55,957 in 2000.

According to a 2010 BBC report, the volume of shipping traffic through the Strait of Malacca is six times that of traffic passing through the Suez Canal.

Foreign operators are currently allowed to engage in rescue operations in Malaysian waters, but are paid by their customers outside the country, thus avoiding taxes in Malaysia.

Ng said local operators are also qualified to handle such operations, as seen over the past two years when the Covid-19 pandemic discouraged or prevented foreign actors from working in Malaysian waters.

He cited the case of the bulk carrier registered in Malta MV Galapagos for example.

On July 11, the vessel suffered a failure of the steering system, which resulted in it colliding with a cargo ship registered in Great Britain. MV Zephyr Lumos near the mouth of Sungai Muar.

According to First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria, director of the Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the two ships collided 14.1 nautical miles southwest of the Sungai Muar estuary.

the MV Zephyr Lumos was en route to the Suez Canal, while the MV Galapagos was heading for India when the collision occurred at 12:03 am on July 11.

Bumi Jaya was hired to handle the rescue operations, which came as a surprise to many.

“Most expected a Singapore-based company to take on the task,” Ng said,

He added that this shows that local actors also have the capacity to manage such operations.

“It is enough that the insurers trust us and agree to cover the rescue operations by the local operators. “

The marine rescue business is a capital intensive business.

Ng said a state-of-the-art rescue vessel could cost more than US $ 50 million (RM 213 million).

Bumi Jaya was established 10 years ago with assets valued at only RM 1 million, but today the value has grown to RM 5 million.

However, banks are reluctant to offer loans to those who embark on the bailout, forcing most players to dip into their own reserves to expand, Ng said.

“Certainly we still don’t have the capacity to undertake large operations, but the obligation for foreign companies to hire a local partner could help the industry to develop in Malaysia, and we could even become a player. world major.

He said that given the high number of ships crossing the Strait of Malacca, the government should encourage the growth of the industry instead of requiring shipping companies to turn to Singapore for their services.

Ng noted that the maritime industry is very important to Malaysia as 90% of its exports are by sea.