Usage of Media: RSN & RMN Foiled Pirate Attack

Yesterday, a pirate attack on a Singapore-registered merchant vessel, Ai Maru, was foiled when a tri national ”task force” was deployed to assist the vessel. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Navy), and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut (Indonesian Navy) each deployed a vessel to foil the attack about 30nm off Pulau Aur in the the South China Sea. It is however, interesting to see how each media agency from each state describe the rescue.



Taken from cyberpioneer:

The Republic of Singapore Navy swiftly deployed its Patrol Vessel, RSS Gallant, which was the first naval vessel to arrive near the scene of the attack at 12.45am this morning.

RSS Gallant provided position updates and continued to shadow the tanker. The presence of maritime security forces from the RSN and Royal Malaysian Navy in the vicinity of the tanker Ai Maru forced the perpetrators to abandon their attack and flee the scene.

Taken from Channel News Asia and AFP version,

Malaysia’s navy has fought off a pirate attack on a tanker off its east coast in the South China Sea, the International Maritime Bureau said Sunday.

The Malaysian force was assisted by the Indonesian and Singaporean navies in fending off the attack late Saturday, said Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s Kuala Lumpur-based Piracy Reporting Centre.

From here one can see that each agency describe differently on whose ship arrived first. The placement and usage of words in the latter source clearly describes the Malaysian ship arriving first on scene and ”fought off” the pirate, although I do feel that fighting off will involve certain exchange of firepower which did not happen. They were later assisted by RSN and TNI-AL ships. Cyberpioneer and RSN Facebook source describe the Fearless Class Patrol Vessel RSS Gallant, arriving first on scene. The RSN were tipped off by the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) based in Singapore. A quick search on the incident has the RMN taking the credit of fending off the attack.

More importantly, the contradiction of report between agencies from the same state, i.e. RSN and Channel News Asia/Straits Times, makes one scratch their heads on the accuracy on the incident. You might wish to note that the CNA report, together with the Malaysian news, reported on the incident at least 5 hours ahead of the RSN’s Facebook shoutout and therefore you can say RSN has ‘lost’ the upper hand on delivering their side of the story. Local television news later described the RSN version of the incident at 1830H onwards, but web was filled with AFP’s news on RMN foiling the attack. RSN’s news was only circulated within Facebook. The point here is that sometimes, getting the news to the right agency first, i.e. AFP, can alter the angle on how the incident is played out by the audience.  The media and the words used, is an underestimated ‘weapon’, as seen here. Media has always been a way to increase the people’s morale, commitment to defence and confidence of their people, and should an international agency broadcasts the news, it can be a form of deterrence, glorify their armies to the rest of the globe, or not. The world looked on as Counter Terrorist forces floundered in Mumbai Hotel attack and Manila bus rescue.

Regardless of who the credit is given to, this incident has showcased an excellent C2 and Command Post Operations between the three countries, processes and communication lines are oiled. It also proved that short-noticed operations can be carried between these agencies outside of Exercise Bersama and Exercise Malapura. A good job from the three navies.


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