B-06-08, Megan Avenue II
12, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2161 2960
Fax: (603) 2161 4035
E-Mail: MIMA Email@mima.gov.my


Among the most important international waterways since the 7th century, the Straits of Malacca connects the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, linking the major Asian economies of India, China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN with the rest of the world. The tremendous growth in international trade has resulted in a corresponding increase in the volume of commercial traffic traversing through this major sea lane.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of merchant vessels exceeding 300 GRT using the Straits increased by almost 37 per cent. LNG/LPG tankers using the Straits registered 26 per cent growth from 2,962 to 3,726 while container and general cargo vessels rose 41 per cent over the same period. These figures exclude cross traffic and other vessel types plying the waterway. In addition almost 50 per cent of global energy shipments pass through the Straits annually. While reflective of the positive growth and relevance of the Straits in facilitating international trade, it also raises a whole set of challenges in balancing the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the area.

The Straits is not only a shipping lane. It is home to both living and non living natural assets such as fisheries, mangrove forests, and coral reefs. It is a thriving mariculture and recreation resource centre, generating a wide range of marine life support systems as well as a critical source of economic livelihood for its coastal inhabitants. These assets are under tremendous pressure as the Straits becomes busier each year. Oil and chemical pollution, ballast water and solid waste discharges, vessel accidents and incidents are major threats to this delicate balance which if not properly managed, have the potential to adversely affect the livelihood of the surrounding communities and threaten the nation's long term economic sustainability.
The Centre for the Straits of Malacca (CSOM) was launched by YAB Dato' Sri Mohd. Najib  Tun  Abdul Razak on 21st October 2008. It marked the beginning of a new chapter for MIMA especially in elevating the management paradigm of the Straits towards transforming it into a modern and dynamic maritime passageway. CSOM's vision is to be a one-stop centre of excellence for research and an authoritative source on matters pertaining to the Straits and its connected waterways.

Research Thrusts

CSOM is dedicated towards realizing a common vision for the Straits of Malacca by littoral states and stakeholders aimed at enhancing the management of the Straits and its viability as an economic catalyst for the region. The Centre's research focuses on promoting the Straits' economic sustainability, navigational safety and security, safeguarding its marine and maritime environment, clarification of transit passage issues as well as encouraging policy and management initiatives to foster the socio-economic and strategic development of the Straits. CSOM's "Profile of the Straits of Malacca: Malaysia's Perspective" outlines Malaysia's vision and definition of the Straits from several key aspects and the myriad issues currently facing the Straits.

Key Stakeholders

  •     Ministry of Transport - Maritime Division
  •     Marine Department Malaysia
  •     Port Klang Authority
  •     Penang Port Commission
  •     Department of Fisheries
  •     Department of Environment
  •     National Hydrographic Centre
  •     Malaysian Shipowners Association
  •     Malaysia International Shipping Corporation
  •     National Security Council
  •     Ministry of Defence
  •     Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  •     Royal Malaysian Navy
  •     Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency

















2012 Projects

For 2012, SOM carried out the following research projects:

1.    Ecosystems conservation and marine environment protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: future perspectives
2.    Marine environment management in Malaysia: 20 years after the Earth Summit
3.    Future of cooperative mechanism
4.    Documenting the history of Malaysia’s claims over and occupation of features in the South China Sea
5.    Unlocking the Sulawesi Maritime Boundaries Conundrum – Options for Malaysia

** To view the description of the projects, please click HERE

2013 Projects

For 2013, SOM carried out the following research projects:

  1. Straits of Malacca Outlook Project: Future Perspectives on Safety of Navigation and Cooperation
  2. South China Sea – Policy Options for Malaysia
  3. Review of National Laws Pertaining to Marine Environment Protection and Resource Management
  4. Third Party Intervention in Relation to Maritime Boundaries Disputes: An Analysis
  5. Maritime Delimitation: Unity in Boundary Lines

** To view the description of the projects, please click HERE

2014 Projects

For 2014, SOM carried out the following research projects:

  1. The Management of Straits Used for International Navigation: A Comparative Study of the Straits of Malacca and Other Straits
  2. Review of Legal Arrangements for Marine Environment Protection in the South China Sea
  3. Archiving Malaysia’s Maritime Heritage: a Policy and Feasibility Study
  4. The Significance of Aids to Navigation and Navigational Issues as Factors of Special or Relevant Circumstances in Maritime Boundary Delimitation
  5. Application of Article 121: The Evolution of Travaux Preparatoires to Jurisprudence Development
  6. Malaysia’s Maritime Limits – Part One (Straits of Malacca and Straits of Singapore) 
  7. A Socio-economic Evaluation of the Maritime Sector of the Straits of Malacca

** To view the description of the projects, please click HERE





Sumathy Permal

Sumathy Permal

M.A. (Strategic and International Relations), University of Malaya
B. A. (International Relations) (Hons), University of Malaya


Sumathy Permal is a Senior Researcher with the Centre for Straits of Malacca since August 2015. Prior to that, she was with the Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy, Maritime Institute of Malaysia since April 2004. She obtained her degree in International Relations from the University of Malaya in 1999 and also Masters by Research on Strategic and International Relations in University Malaya in 2015. Ms. Permal’s research areas are on naval developments and strategies in the Asia Pacific, traditional and non-traditional security issues in Southeast Asia. Her current focus is on strategic and defence issues in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

Her recent publication includes China’s Military Capability and Anti Access Area Denial Operations, published by Rutledge, Geopolitical Imperatives in the Straits of Malacca in The Paradox of the Straits of Malacca, Maritime Cooperation With United States And China: Examination on The Contemporary Issues and Challenges for Malaysia and Preventive Diplomacy in the South China Sea, Journal of Malaysian Defence and Security (MIDAS India’s Look East Policy and Maritime Cooperation in Southeast Asia, in India and Southeast Asia, Strategic Convergence in the Twenty-first Century, Manohar Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi, 2012; and co-author in Regional Maritime Security Environment: the Malaysian Perspective, Southeast Asia and the Rise of Chinese and Indian Naval Power, Between rising naval powers, Rutledge Security in Asia Series, 2010. Sumathy Permal is on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs, Australia.

Journals  |   Books  |   Bulletins, Local and International Magazines  |   Reports  |   Newspaper Articles  |   Online Articles  |  

Jalila Abdul Jalil

Jalila Abdul Jalil

LL.B (Hons.), Glamorgan 
Diploma in Law of the Sea, Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy

Jalila Abdul Jalil is a Senior Researcher with Centre for the Straits of Malacca, Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) and has previously served with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. She graduated with an LL.B (Hons) Bachelor of Laws from the University of Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom and is an alumni of the Rhodes Oceans Scholar in Law of the Sea, Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy. She is also a Member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, Inns of Court, London.

Her research interests include public international law matters, law of the sea, maritime boundaries issues, disputes settlement, and legal matters pertaining to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions.

Journals  |   Books  |   Reports  |   Bulletins and Magazines  |   Newspaper Article  |   Online Articles  |  

Ariff Abdullah

Ariff Abdullah

BSc. Maritime  (Hons.) (National Defence University of Malaysia)

Mr. Ariff Abdullah is a graduate from National Defence University of Malaysia (NDUM) in Bachelor of Science (Hons.) (Maritime). At the university, he joined 3 years military training in Army Reserve Officer Training Unit (ROTU) before receiving a royal commissioning as an officer in the Territorial Army Regiment.

Mr. Ariff began his stint with Maritime Institute of Malaysia in September 2014 in the Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy (CMSD). His early assignments involved active participation in policy research on maritime security issues, including seaborne crime such as smuggling of diesel, contraband, wildlife, trafficking-in-person and smuggling of migrant, piracy and armed robbery and illegal exploitation of the marine resources. In August 2015, he joined Centre for Straits of Malacca (CSOM) as a researcher. His current research interest are Malaysia-Indonesia issues, maritime security, law of the sea and geopolitical studies. Mr. Ariff was a member of Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security and Preventive Diplomacy for one-year Workshop on “Partnership for Regional Peace: Operationalising ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in Southeast Asia” co-hosted by National Institute for the South China Sea (NICSCS) Hainan and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Jakarta.





Ida Haryati Idris

Ida Haryati Idris



Frequently Ask Question (FAQs) of Centre for Straits of Malacca (CSOM)

1. What Is The Role Of The Centre For The Straits of Malacca?

CSOM serves as a one-stop centre for information and research on Straits of Malacca maritime issues.  Through well-researched and sound policy recommendations the Center aims to be the authoritative source and provide a vision for the littoral states in general and Malaysia in particular on issues pertaining to the security, environment and economics of this strategic waterway.

2. Why Is The Straits of Malacca Such An Important Waterway?

In addition to being important to the livelihood of the coastal communities, the 900-kilometre Straits of Malacca is the main sea lane of communication linking the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is one of the busiest waterways used for international navigation with more than 40 percent of global trade and 50 percent of oil shipments passing through it annually. In 2010 the number of transit vessel movements in the Straits reached almost 75,000 while cross traffic movements between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra reached 30,000.

The heavy traffic movements are expected to increase significantly in the future and have serious implications to the littoral states of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore placing heavy demands on the environment, navigational safety, commercial and security management.  This is especially since the Straits has limited width and depth in accommodating an infinite number and variety of vessels.

3. What Are The Major Issues Impacting The Straits of Malacca?

The heavy traffic volume in the straits has obvious navigational safety, environmental, security, and political implications to the littoral states. The ability to absorb the large number of vessels using the straits require sound management and mitigation policies and cooperation among the littoral states as well as compliance by user states to ensure unimpeded, safe,  and efficient navigation while safeguarding the environment and economic livelihood of the coastal communities.

Although various traffic schemes have been implemented to improve navigation and safety in the straits it is critical that a comprehensive traffic management system be put in place to ensure that vessel incidents and accidents do not have serious adverse long-term impact on littoral states and jeopardize international navigation.

4. What Management Initiatives have the Littoral States of the Straits of Malacca Taken To Ensure Safety And Security Of The Waterway?

The natural physical characteristics of the Straits and its position as a strait used for international navigation require that safety, security and environmental issues be managed by the littoral states. Among the initiatives include the establishment of the Tripartite Technical Experts Group in the adoption of a common position on navigational safety, instituting the Traffic Separation Scheme, the maintenance of the 3.5-meter Under Keel Clearance for straits passage, the establishment of the Mandatory Ship Reporting System (STRAITREP), shore-based facilities to monitor ship transits or port visits such as the Vessel Traffic System, radar system, Differential Global Positioning System and Automatic Identification System (AIS) and establishing a regional mechanism to enhance maritime safety and environment protection under the  Marine Electronic Highway project.

5. What Is The Status Of The Straits of Malacca Under International Law?

Under international law, the Straits of Malacca is considered a "straits used for international navigation" as specified under Part III (Articles 34 to 45) of UNCLOS 1982. To be governed by this regime, a strait must meet two basic geographical and functional criteria, that is, it must connect one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone to another part of the high seas or an EEZ, and be used for international navigation. All ships and aircraft enjoy the right of unimpeded transit passage through such straits where transit refers to the freedom of navigation and over-flight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious passage through the straits. As long as it is used for international navigation, the straits are governed by this regime. Both criteria are based on the 1949 ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Corfu Channel Case.