Introduction to MIMA
The Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) – formerly known as Malaysian Institute of Maritime Affairs - is a policy research institute set up by the Malaysian Government to look into matters relating to Malaysia's interest at sea, and to serve as a national focal point for research in the maritime sector. Established in 1993, MIMA was incorporated under the Companies Act 1965, as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital, with its own Board of Directors.
The Institute takes a comprehensive approach in dealing with maritime issues. Its role is to deal with national, regional and global maritime matters affecting Malaysia. MIMA is therefore expected to contribute towards a meaningful, comprehensive and cogent national maritime policy for Malaysia.
One key task of the Institute is to complement the efforts of the various government agencies involved in the maritime sector by mobilising expertise to assist and support them in national maritime policy planning and implementation. The Institute’s role will be both advisory and consultative. MIMA will provide advice and second opinions to Government agencies and other relevant organisations. The Institute also has the task of promoting the free exchange of ideas on all maritime matters.
MALAYSIA'S MARITIME RESOURCES
Malaysia's total sea area of 614,159 square kms is almost twice its landmass and the size of its EEZ alone is 453,186 square kms. This spatial dimension is accentuated by the fact that Malaysia is a classic example of a nation fragmented by intervening waters, with more than 600 kilometres of the South China Sea separating Peninsular Malaysia from Sabah and Sarawak.
Maritime resources also contribute substantially to Malaysia's prosperity with petroleum and gas constituting Malaysia's single largest export commodity. Significantly, all of the nation’s gas and oil fields are found offshore. Petroleum and gas constitute Malaysia's single largest export commodity. In 2009, Petronas contributed tax revenue of RM36.6 billion to our national coffers.
In addition, and estimated 95 per cent of Malaysia's international trade, the lifeblood of its economy, is being carried through the oceans via its international seaports. Malaysia's maritime economy contribution to the GDP is about 20% especially since marine and coastal tourism have become significant revenue earner.
It is obvious therefore, that the maritime sphere will become increasingly important in economic and security terms.
Another key role of the Institute is public education and information dissemination. MIMA is conscious that unless Malaysians become more aware of their maritime heritage, and how important the sea is in their daily lives, Malaysia will not be able to achieve its rightful status as a maritime nation.
MIMA feels that it is important to sensitise the public to the significant contributions of the maritime sector in the national economy, its importance as the nation's first line of defence, its potential for national integration, and its place in the nation's heritage. Being in a dynamic field such as the maritime sector, MIMA must always be on its toes and keep abreast of the latest issues and developments in all aspects related to the field. As Malaysia's reliance on the seas increases, the use of the seas will intensify. This will bring about a host of challenges in areas such as safety, security, environmental protection and strategic relations, among others that need astute policies. The marine ecosystems and resources are coming under various threats will need to be protected and managed well to ensure their sustainability for the benefit of current and future generations.
MIMA is poised to play a significant role in contributing to policymaking to safeguard Malaysia's many maritime interests and to protect its seas from various elements that threaten maritime security, safety, environment and resources. In light of this, MIMA has adopted 'Ocean of change for sustainability' as its motto, reflecting the dynamic nature of the maritime sector and the urgent need to develop the seas in a sustainable manner.
MIMA also has an active programme involving the cross-exchange of ideas with its counterparts overseas. The Institute has established several extensive networks with specialists worldwide, and this has contributed substantially to the body of thought and literature on maritime affairs in Malaysia.
The following areas are of immediate relevance to MIMA:
Coastal & Marine Environment
MIMA aspires to contribute to ecologically sustainable development of marine resources and the conservation and protection of marine environment through its research activities in the fields of coastal area management; prevention and reduction of pollution; ecosystems conservation; resource management; and conservation of biological diversity while at the same time raising the level of public awareness on issues related to the marine environment. These activities will be conducted with a view of providing inputs into the decision-making process and in collaboration and co-operation with relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Maritime Security & Diplomacy
With the growing importance of the maritime sector in the nation's economy, MIMA promotes research into areas that support the Government’s efforts in safeguarding the national maritime interests of the country. This will include maritime resource protection policies and strategies and regional maritime co-operation initiatives that will promote confidence-building at sea and transparency in maritime strategies and policies. One such initiative is the Prevention of Incidents at Sea (INCSEA) Agreement.
The Straits of Malacca
As an important waterway since the 7th century, the Straits of Malacca plays a significant role to the world, especially the littoral countries. Having such significance, addressing crucial issues on the Straits is of the importance. For that reason, MIMA aims to play a significant role in the management of the Straits of Malacca. This is done within the following thematic areas, namely safety of navigation, strategic governance of the Straits, security from traditional and non-traditional threats, safety of navigation for vessels and protection of its fragile marine environment. A comprehensive inter-disciplinary approach is practiced in addressing issues of law, environment, economy, etc. to achieve effective governance of this critical global infrastructure.
Maritime Economics and Industries
Being a nation surrounded by seas, it is not surprising that the seas and the maritime sector play an important role in Malaysia's economic growth and development. An estimated 95% of Malaysia's international trade is carried by seaborne transport and ports act as gateways that facilitate the nation's import and export. Shipping and port operations are supported by a wide range of ancillary services such as shipbuilding/ship repairing, logistics, ship management, financing and legal services, among many others. These activities facilitate the nation's trade an economic growth, generate huge investments and create employment. In addition, all of Malaysia's oil and gas riches which provide crucial source of revenue to the country and generate tremendous economic multiplier effects, are available offshore. There are also a wide range of activities that provide sustenance, transportation, source of income and other benefits to the country. Given the importance of the seas to Malaysia's economy, MIMA gives strong emphasis to conduct research that can contribute to further development and promotion of maritime economic activities and industries and to enable Malaysia to optimally harness economic benefits from its maritime features. MIMA is currently focusing its attention on conducting policy research that can enable the maritime sector to contribute to the attainment of the goal of transforming Malaysia's economy and making it a fully developed nation by 2020, as aspired by the New Economic Model.
Ocean Law & Policy
This will include outstanding issues relating to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions, safety of navigation and regulations pertaining to the issues of boundary delimitations and resource disputes.
Maritime Resource Centre
MIMA intends to become the regional maritime resource centre, with a comprehensive reference library, information and knowledge centre.
The centres at MIMA are designed to be flexible and adaptable to allow multi-disciplinary research. MIMA is organised into the following centres:
1. The Centre for Maritime Economics and Industries (MEI)
2. The Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy (MSD)
3. The Centre for Ocean Law and Policy (OLAP)
4. The Centre for the Straits of Malacca (SOM)
5. The Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER)
Linking all the centres is the Finance and Administration Division. This division plays a key role in supporting research at MIMA.
Although MIMA is fully funded by the Government, the Institute's charter permits it to receive funds locally and from abroad. MIMA does not believe in working in isolation. Much is to be gained from the exchange of ideas and MIMA therefore offers itself as the national focal point for maritime research institute world-wide to link up with.
As a growing research organisation, MIMA seeks friends and allies as well as intellectual support. At the same time, the Institute recognises the need to upgrade research expertise and human resource development, especially in the marine environment, ocean industries and maritime transport, legal cooperation, and maritime security.
As part of its human resource development programme, MIMA has implemented a fellowship / scholarship scheme locally and abroad. This will include fellowships at MIMA, catering mainly for visiting researchers and scholars. Overseas scholarships and fellowships are primarily intended to upgrade the expertise of MIMA staff. In this respect, MIMA welcomes any organisation which can contribute to the fellowship / scholarship programme.