BY: EVELYN CHOO and SAIFULBAHRI ISMAIL
Search and rescue operations for two Singaporeans missing in the waters around Pulau Aur have been extended till today, five days after the boat they were on sank following a collision with a tanker.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), which is leading the operations, said the extension was requested by the families of the missing Singaporeans as well as the Singapore Consulate-General in Johor Bahru. The search for Mr Tan Ah Juan, 55, and Mr Keith Peck Zhi Yi, 31, was supposed to have been called off yesterday.
In a statement, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Mr Lim Hong Huai, Consulate-General in Johor Bahru, has expressed his appreciation to the Malaysian authorities for their efforts in assisting the Singaporeans.
The spokesman added: “He has also requested the Malaysian authorities to continue their search and rescue efforts for the two missing Singaporeans for as long as they can do so, reiterating our offer of assistance in these efforts.”
MMEA head Zulkifli Abu Bakar said that, among other considerations, the agency took into account “the good relations between the two countries”.
According to First Admiral Zulkifli, the number of patrol boats involved in the operations might be reduced because MMEA needs to focus its resources on other duties such as law enforcement.
Meanwhile, alerts have been sent to Malaysian fishermen about the missing men.
The MMEA has deployed 60 officers, four boats and a helicopter to help find the missing men since launching the search and rescue operations on Monday afternoon.
First Admiral Zulkifli said: “In the search-and-rescue, we have got assets from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, and we have assets from the navy as well as the air force.”
Referring to the navy and air force, he added: “We hope that they would also provide us with their assets (to continue the operations). If they are not able to do so because of whatever reasons … as far as we’re concerned we’re going to continue.”