International Law Studies


Sumathy Permal


Maritime security governance of a strategic strait is a unique exercise that presents formidable complexity for States bordering the strait. These waterways often have choke points the proper management of which is critical for the safe passage of commercial and military vessels. The focus of this article is on the Straits of Malacca (SOM) as a strategic maritime passage that is subject to multiple interests involving governance, military, and commercial aspects. This article seeks to examine maritime security governance approaches by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore towards the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

The littoral States bordering the SOM bear the responsibility to provide sufficient security measures to international shipping. But littoral States have certain limitations such as insufficient assets, enforcement, and clear governance frameworks in dealing with multifaceted, multi-layered, and multiple nations and actors’ involvement and interest in the SOM. Hence, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore want to cooperate with user States and other non-State entities, however, there are certain caveats to this willingness. Their reservations clearly manifest in maritime security initiatives such as the PSI. The purpose of this article is to explain why the three littoral states adopt diverging approaches towards the PSI, determine why they agree to cooperate with certain initiatives but not others, and understand how the PSI is related to institutional arrangements available in this region.