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Proposal to set up Mawilla 4 base in Bintulu in final stages, says Defence Minister

0 month ago, 18-Sep-2023

Mohamad Hasan delivers his winding up speech. — Bernama photo

KUCHING (Sept 18): The governments proposal to set up the Royal Malaysian Navys Naval Region 4 (Mawilla 4) headquarters in Bintulu has been certified by the National Security Council, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

He said the proposals application is now at the final stage, and will be forwarded to the Public Private Partnership Unit (Ukas) of the Prime Ministers Department once it has been approved by his ministry.

The development of Mawilla 4 in Bintulu was raised by YB Saratok. For the information of this honourable House, the National Security Council Session has certified the need for the establishment of Mawilla 4.

The official application, along with the scope and requirements, for the development of Mawilla 4 is being finalised by the ministry before being forwarded to Ukas for further action, he said during the ministrys winding up session in Parliament today.

Mohamad Hasan was responding to a question from Saratok MP Ali Biju, who had asked about the governments plan to establish a navy base headquarters in Bintulu following the frequent presence of foreign ships in the Kasawari Gas Field in Beting Patinggi Ali.

Elaborating further, he said the development project was already in the pipeline, with works expected to kick off in two stages.

He said the first phase will begin with the acquisition of 200 acres of land in Samalaju Industrial Park, Tanjung Borgam Bintulu followed by the development of the base in the second phase, which will involve the Marine Infrastructure Department and accommodation facilities.

Mohamad Hasan said the bases establishment will be a boost to the existing fleet and increase the presence of defence capabilities in Sarawak waters.

Citing Beting Patinggi Ali as the Exclusive Economic Zone, he said the government is aware of the presence of foreign ships around Sarawak waters, especially in the area involving national oil and gas wells.

He also noted that Sarawak currently relies on naval forces based in Sepanggar Bay, Kota Kinabalu as it has no naval base.

The selection of Bintulu for Mawilla 4 is based on its strategic location in terms of the position and concentration of maritime operations in the South China Sea, as well as to increase surveillance in the countrys Exclusive Economic Zone. The move is also part of efforts to strengthen security control in national waters in the eastern part of Sabah and Sarawak.

For now, the closest navy base to Beting Patinggi Ali is the Kota Kinabalu Royal TLDM Base in Sepanggar Bay. At a speed of 12 knots, TLDM ships from Sepanggar Bay will take 19 hours to reach Beting Patinggi Ali, compared to only nine hours from Bintulu at the same speed, he said.

He added that the Defence Ministry will ensure its commitment in realising this development, as it understands the critical need to establish the base.

This clearly demonstrates the seriousness of the federal government towards the safety of Sarawak waters, he stressed.