Regional Maritime Security: Indonesia

Regional Maritime Security: Indonesia

Allmode Regional Reports 6

Over the summer months Allmode Intelligence will be issuing a number of ‘Security Reports’ that will cover the regions of Southeast Asia. The purpose of these reports is to provide vessels and their crews with up to date information to increase their local knowledge and improve situational awareness.

Situational Awareness (SA) is all about having the information you need to make effective decisions. There will always be occasions when people are required to make critical choices– sometimes very quickly – and the vast majority of errors that occur are the result of failure in situational awareness.

Below are some exerpts from the full report.



Indonesia is  very  susceptible  to  natural  disasters such  as  earthquakes,  tsunamis, volcanoes, cyclones, floods, droughts and landslides. There is little one can do to avoid them, but in the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of the local authorities and emergency services.


One should not forget that, like in any other region in the world, there are security threats associated with different forms of crime. It has been observed that crime rates tends to increase before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This is when Muslims start looking for presents for their families and money to come back to their homes for Eid Al-Fitr, which is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan.

Tourists should also pay attention to where and what they eat and drink as food and drink spiking may occur (especially on Bali and Lombok). It is highly recommended not to accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. Substances that are used to mix drinks (usually it is methanol) are very dangerous and may cause serious health problems.

Other common crimes are robberies, thefts and pickpocketing so it is better to avoid wearing valuable things. One must also mention bag snatching, which is done by thieves on motorcycles. Try to secure your bag, purse or backpack not to become a victim of such a crime.

The security of ATMs has improved in Indonesia but you are still advised to use these machines in safe places, inspect the area and protect your PIN. The best solution is to use cash instead of credit cards. It is recommended not to carry large sums of money with you and keep it in safe places.

Generally speaking, taxis are relatively safe means of transport but there are some tips that should be taken into consideration. Tourists are advised to choose taxis from reliable and well-known  companies  (Bluebird,  Silver  Bird  or  Express)  –  it  is  enough  to  check  the company name on the side of the car. A hotel can also book a taxi for you. Lock the doors of the taxi you are using to avoid strangers jumping into the car and never get into a taxi when another passenger is inside. There have been reports of robberies carried out by taxi drivers, so do not wear eye-catching jewellery and secure your belongings. Unlicensed taxis are not considered safe and it is not advised to use them.




There is also a significant terrorist threat  in Indonesia. The Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) meaning "Islamic Congregation" is a violent terrorist group with links to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.  JI  is  dedicated  to  the  establishment  of  a  Daulah  Islamiyah  (regional  Islamic caliphate) in Southeast Asia and is known to be active in in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines....

With this in mind it is highly recommended to avoid or stay alert in places that could be potential targets, such as bars, restaurants, hotels, airports etc.


According to Transparency International, Indonesia is considered to be  a corrupt country. The most common forms of  corruption are the abuse of office, money laundering  and bribery.


The Malacca Strait separates Sumatra from Malaysia and Singapore. From an economic and strategic perspective, the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. The strait is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. About a quarter of all oil carried by sea passes through the strait, mainly from Persian Gulf suppliers. Over 94,000 vessels pass through the straits every year.

Piracy in the Malacca Strait has historically been an unresolved threat to ship owners and the mariners who ply the 900 km-long (550 miles) sea lane. The Straits are narrow, containing thousands of islets, and is an outlet for many rivers, making it ideal for pirates to hide in to evade capture.  In recent  years,  coordinated naval patrols  by Indonesia,  Malaysia,  and Singapore along with increased security on vessels has reduced the number of incidents however the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) still reported 106 hijacking or attempted hijackings in Indonesia.

Piracy in the Malacca Strait is mainly about armed robbery, rather than the taking of vessels for ransom, and most of the pirates are of Indonesian origin. Most recently on 25 July 2014, one boat approached an anchored Product Tanker at Belawan. The Duty Bosun noticed that a robber was attempting to climb on to the vessel and raised the alarm. Seeing the alerted crew, the robber moved away. Later the duty officer noticed another robber on board the vessel and raised the alarm and the crew were mustered. Seeing the crew alertness, the robber escaped. Upon investigation it was noticed that the pad lock to the paint store was broken.

22 July 2014, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) released a half yearly report, which states that within the first six months of 2014, 116 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against  ships were reported all over  the  world.  In  comparison,  there  were  138  similar incidents in the corresponding period of 2013. 47 of these incidents occurred in Indonesia. Most of them were thefts against vessels. 18 cases were reported at Pulau Bintan – an island in the Riau archipelago of Indonesia. As a result, the Indonesian Marine Police added this port to the list of 10 areas where patrols need to increase.


People planning to travel to Indonesia are advised to learn about possible health risks.

As far as diseases transmitted by insects or animals are concerned, the most popular one is malaria, which is present in the entire country, but limited to rural areas. Malaria risk is present below the altitude of 1200 metres. high risk months for malaria are January- December.

Another health risk is dengue fever, transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. It can’t be spread directly from one person to another person. Symptoms usually begin four to six days after infection and last up to ten days. They include high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, skin rash and bleeding. The disease is particularly common in Jakarta. According to West Jakarta head of Sub-dept. of Health, Widyastuti, since January to end of March 2014, 603 cases of dengue fever were reported.

Canine rabies is a continuous problem in Bali. The Animal Health Service recorded 36 confirmed cases of rabies in dogs in Bali between January and May 2014.

The rabies virus is present in the saliva of infected animals. It is a viral disease caught when bitten or scratched by an infected (rabid) animal, often a dog. Once it enters the body, the virus travels along nerves and causes paralysis. It may result in coma and death. There were no confirmed cases of this disease for Denpasar and Badung. Travellers should avoid contact with animals and report any bites.

Avian influenza – also known as bird flu or H5N1 – is a highly contagious infectious disease among poultry and other birds. The virus is transmitted by the movement of birds and people (with contaminated shoes or clothing), and from birds to unsuspecting people who touch them, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to specialists, the number of deaths from avian flu in Indonesia is the highest in the world. It was first noticed in central Java in 2003.

Moreover, travellers should be aware of disease transmitted by food, water or via the environment, such as diarrhoea, which is very frequent, hepatitis A or typhoid fever.

Stomach problems and dehydration are also common problems. In such cases you should drink a lot of bottled water, rather avoid tap water. Contaminated food is not uncommon and in general you should pay attention to what and where you eat.

Sun exposure can cause sunburn. Do not spend too much time in the sun, particularly between 12 PM and 2 PM. Do not forget to protect your skin with good sun cream and your eyes with sunglasses. Remember that overexposure to the sun may lead to dehydration –try to limit physical effort during the hottest time, drink lots of fluids and wear suitable clothes.

Many medicines at pharmacies (apotik) are sold without prescription. Major cities and towns have public hospitals. Most medical staff do not speak English or French. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services. Remember about health insurance that covers medical expenses. 

For more information on health and crime in the Indonesian archipelago, view the full report here.


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