Regime building in the Malacca and Singapore straits: Two steps forward, one step back


  • Sam Bateman



Regime building, maritime security, conflict resolution, national security


This article reviews progress toward an effective regime for maritime safety, security, and environmental protection in the Malacca and Singapore straits. Recent steps forward comprise enhanced arrangements for cooperative surveillance and patrols by the littoral states, and the introduction of the Cooperative Mechanism for Safety and Environmental Protection in the straits sponsored by the International Maritime Organization. The latter mechanism provides a framework for cooperation and burden-sharing between littoral states, user states, and other stakeholders. A step back arises when difficulties are encountered with implementing new measures, or these measures are inhibited by the strong sovereignty concerns of the littoral states. This review of regime-building in the Malacca and Singapore straits provides an insight into the role of transnational institutions and governance structures aimed at ensuring regional peace and stability. Despite lingering difficulties, the institutions and structures being introduced in the straits are having some success at enhancing security and safety along one of the most strategically and economically significant waterways in the world.


Anis, M.N. 2008. “RM14m Boost for Straits of Malacca Security.” The Star Online [Kuala Lumpur]. 25 January 2008. [accessed 27 January 2008].

Arsyad. R. 2008. “Cooperation to Safeguard Shipping through the Malacca Strait,” pp. 175-186 in A. Forbes, ed. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs, No. 23. Canberra: Sea Power Centre Australia.

Basiron, M.N. and A. Dastan. 2006. “Building a Comprehensive Security Environment in the Straits of Malacca.” Kuala Lumpur: Maritime Institute of Malaysia.

Bateman, S., J. Ho, and C. Raymond. 2006. “Safety and Security in the Malacca and Singapore Straits: An Agenda for Action.” Singapore: Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS).

Bateman, S. and J. Ho. 2008. “Somalia-type Piracy: Why it will not happen in Southeast Asia.” RSIS Commentary 123/2008. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Bateman, S., J. Ho, and J. Chan. 2009. “Good Order at Sea in Southeast Asia.” Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Beckman, R.C. 2008. “The 1988 SUA Convention and 2005 SUA Protocol: Tools to Combat Piracy, Armed Robbery and Maritime Terrorism,” pp. 187-200 in R. Herbert-Burns, S. Bateman, and P. Lehr, eds. Lloyd's MIU Handbook of Maritime Security. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Bradford, J.F. 2008. “Shifting the Tides against Piracy in Southeast Asian Waters.” Asian Survey. Vol. 48, Issue 3, pp. 473-491.

Djalal, H. 2008. “The Development of Cooperation on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.” Paper presented to International Symposium on Safety and Protection of the Marine Environment in the Malacca and Singapore Straits. Kuala Lumpur, 24 November.

Fuller, T. 2009. “At Asean, Reaching Out to Regular People.” International Herald Tribune. 1 March 2009. [accessed 4 March 2009].

Haas, E.B. 1980. “Why Collaborate? Issue-linkage and International Regimes.” World Politics. Vol. 32, No. 3.

Hogan, L., L. Fairhead, A. Gurney, and R. Pritchard, R. 2005. “Energy Security in APEC: Assessing the Costs of Energy Supply Disruptions and the Impacts of Alternative Energy Security Strategies.” APEC Energy Working Group, Report No. APEC#205-RE-01.5. Published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) as Research Report 05.2, Canberra, June.

Huang, V. 2008. “Building Maritime Security in Southeast Asia: Outsiders Not Welcome?” Naval War College Review. Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 87-105.

[IMB] International Maritime Bureau. 2009. “Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships. Annual Report for the Period 1 January- 31 December 2008.”

Jegasthesan, M. and I. Sam. 2008. “Ship Owners Urged to Help Keep the Malacca Straits Safe.” Channel News Asia [Singapore]. 24 November 2008. [accessed 26 November 2008].

Lanterne, M. 2008. “China’s Maritime Security and the ‘Malacca Dilemma’.” Asian Security. Vol.4, No. 2, pp. 143-161.

Luft, G. and A. Korin. 2004. “Terrorism Goes to Sea.” Foreign Affairs. Vol. 83, No. 6, pp. 61-71.

Nippon Foundation. 2006. “The Nippon Foundation Donates Training Ship to Malays.” 1 June 2006. [accessed 10 April 2009].

Okanishi, Y. 2007. "Emerging Trends in Vessel Traffic through the Straits.” Presentation to Singapore Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: Enhancing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection, 4-6 September 2007. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Japan. IMO document IMO/SGP1/INF.21. 5 September 2007.

Sasakawa, Y. 2007. “Towards a New World Maritime Community: Cooperative Framework for the Future of the Malacca and Singapore Straits.” RSIS Commentary 17/2007. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Sawhney, R. 2006. “Redefining the Limits of the Straits: A Composite Malacca Straits Security System.” RSIS Commentary 37/2006. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Singapore Government. 2006. “Fact Sheet on Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).” [accessed 21 January 2007].

Storey, I. 2008. “Securing Southeast Asia’s Sea Lanes.” Asia Policy. No. 6, pp. 95 - 128.

Storey, I. 2009. “Calming the Waters in Southeast Asia.” Asia Pacific Bulletin. No. 29 (available at

Terashima, H. 2009. “Transit Passage and Users’ Contributions to the Safety of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore,” pp. 357-368 in M.H. Nordquist, T.B. Koh, and J.N. Moore, eds. Freedom of Seas, Passage Rights and the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff.

vom Busch, W. and T. Rettig, eds. 2006. Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Young, A.J. 2007. “Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia.” Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).




How to Cite

Bateman, S. (2009). Regime building in the Malacca and Singapore straits: Two steps forward, one step back. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 4(2).




Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.