Does That 40 Go Into 20? Watch For Box Cheats

 boxship, container accident, containership, crime, maritime safety news  Comments Off on Does That 40 Go Into 20? Watch For Box Cheats
Nov 182014

Over the past few years the industry has tried to bring order to the problem of misdeclared container weights, and issue that presets seriosu hazardous to the lives of seafarers and their ships but that doesn’t stop attempts to fraudulently change indicators of container weight, as the   the ICC’s International Maritime Bureau, IMB, has revealed. It’s worth keeping an eye on those boxes.

The incident uncovered by IMB concerned a container of aluminium scrap in which the information outside the box was tampered with to show false weight and size. An IMB member highlighted the case after being notified of a significant weight shortage on the container, which arrived in the Far East from the Middle East.

During the investigation that followed, the member noted that the tare weight of the container, as shown on its door – and used by the shipper – was 3,680kg. The cube, also shown on the door, was 2,700 cubic feet.

The numbers displayed were entirely acceptable for a 40 foot container. However the box in question was a 20 foot one. Continue reading »

Q1 Piracy At “All time high” claims IMB

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Apr 142011

Courtsy of the Finnish navy a pirate dhow goes sky-high, but so are piracy incidents claims IMB

Piracy at sea hit an all-time high in the first three months of 2011, with 142 attacks worldwide, claims the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy.

The sharp rise was driven by a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia, where 97 attacks were recorded in the first quarter of 2011, up from 35 in the same period last year. Continue reading »

Pirates – Doing the Numbers Doesn't Add Up

 Articles, maritime crime, news, piracy  Comments Off on Pirates – Doing the Numbers Doesn't Add Up
Aug 152009

Piracy attacks off Somalia and the Horn of Africa have doubled this year compared to 2008 – or have they? At least one piracy expert is dubious about the widely quoted figures and fears that they may mislead shipping companies into relying on naval forces currently in the region rather than taking appropriate action to protect their own vessels.

In 2008 there were 111 reported attacks and 32 actual hijackings. This year in first six months alone, the figures are 250 attacks and 32 actual ship-takings. Those are worrying numbers, but do they actually mean anything and how should they affect our decision making?

Continue reading »

Live Piracy Report

 ICC, IMB, piracy  Comments Off on Live Piracy Report
Feb 042009

The IMB Live Piracy Report (replacing the Weekly Piracy Report) displays all Piracy and Armed Robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in the last ten days. Click on the map for more details.

Incident Details: Location Map
29.01.2009: 0340 UTC: Posn: 14:10N – 049:58E: Gulf of Aden.

Heavily armed pirates in a speed boat chased and fired upon a LPG tanker underway. Pirates boarded and hijacked the tanker and are sailing it to an undisclosed location in Somalia. Further reports awaited.

29.01.2009: 0345 LT: Posn: 06:10.4S – 108:25.5E, Balongan anchorage, Indonesia.

Four robbers boarded a chemical tanker at anchor. They tried to enter into the accommodation but were noticed by the duty crew who raised the alarm. Upon hearing the alarm, the robbers climbed down into their boat and escaped. Master broadcast a security alert message to all ships in the vicinity and tried to call Balongan radio but received no response.

29.01.2009: 0620 UTC: Posn: 12:27.7N – 044:10.5E, Gulf of Aden.

Armed pirates in a six speed boats surrounded a bulk carrier underway. Master raised alarm, took evasive manoeuvres and crew activated fire hoses. One of the speedboats chased the vessel for about one mile. Seeing the alert crew and the aggressive manoeuvres the pirates stopped chasing the ship. Later the Master noticed another five boats waiting in the vicinity of the ship. Master immediately activated SSAS and contacted the coalition forces. A Chinese coalition helicopter arrived at 0710 UTC and chased the pirates away. Later, a German coalition navy arrived at the location. Ship continues her voyage.

28.01.2009: 23.40 UTC: Posn: 06:43.7S – 039:18.5E, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Four robbers in a small wooden boat attempted to climb onboard an anchored container vessel. Alert duty watchmen informed the duty officer who raised the general alarm and directed the ship search light towards the robbers. Seeing that they were noticed the robbers aborted and moved away. Port control was informed.

27.01.2009: 0636 UTC: Gulf of Aden.

A crude oil tanker sighted a suspicious blue-hull speed boat, 10m length with 5-6 people on Hdg 358° Speed 14 kts. Vessel reported the craft to Indian warship in the vicinity. Helicopter deployed by the vessel. The warship later proceeded to the position and arrested the five pirates along with their weapons ammunition. THIS INCIDENT NOT INCLUDED IN IMB STATISTICS


Piracy Commentary – Pirates In The Bow, Seafarers on the Front Lines

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Oct 242008

Just another day at the office for these Somali Pirates

Let’s give a hand to the pirates aboard the MV Faina. Thanks to their efforts a seven-ship fleet under NATO is about the arrive in the Gulf of Aden, US warships are off the coast of Hobyo with mv Faina in their sights and a warship from Russia, which sold the vessel’s cargo of tanks to either Kenya or South Sudan should be keeping them company any time now, as well as forces from India, many of whose seafarers are being held by pirates.

Don’t get too excited, though. No rules of engagement have been agreed, they can’t figure out how to identify the pirates, whether they’re allowed to shoot or even arrest the pirates, what to do if they do grab them or how to find them, according to comments by the fleet commander, Admiral Mark Fitzgerald in a report from Reuters. The chances are that the fleet will do nothing more than escort ships carrying food aid. to replace the Canadian vessels whose service has expired.Somalia, torn by conflict (Source: Chatham House)

For pirates, it will be business as usual, protected by inaction against the world’s mightiest seapowers on one of the world’s most critical trade routes bearing some 16,000 ships a year. The will to tackle them remains on hold.

Even though pirates have, under internal law, been regarded as ‘enemies of humanity’ for more than a century. Legal issues abound regarding jurisdiction. Recently, a Danish naval vessel had to release 10 pirates back into the wild because, under Danish law they could not be tried in Denmark. More vigorously, the French captured a number of pirates responsible for the seizure of a yacht flying the French flag and is to try them in Paris and more recently seized pirate boats and turned the crews over to Puntland authorities. Britain’s Royal Navy, it is understood, has instructions not to capture pirates.

Meanwhile, the US State Department’s favourite mercenary company, Blackwater, has its own private warship on standby in the hope of picking up some passing trade from shipping companies and a bunch of other private armed security companies, such as HollowPoint, are bouncing up and down in their seats crying “me too! Me too!”.

Ground truth revealing and worrying

On the principle of ‘know thy enemy’, a recent report from the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, known as Chatham House, Piracy In Somalia: Threatening Global Trade, Feeding Local Wars by Roger Middleton, makes revealing and worrying reading.

While Somalia has been a basket case for more than a decade it did briefly have a relatively stable government in Mogadishu during the last six months of 2006. Piracy then almost vanished. Says the report: “This indicates that a functioning government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy”.Piracy almost vanished when insurgents ruled Mogadishu

That government, however, was established by the Islamic Courts Union, commonly known as the Islamist insurgents, which seized control of the city from the ruling warlords . With their overthrow by the US-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, piracy returned in full force.

There may be a reason for that. Most pirates originate in the Puntland region. Says Middleton: “The fact that the pirates originate from Puntland is significant as this is also the home region of President Abdullahi Yusuf (of the Transitional Federal Government). As one expert said, ‘money will go to Yusuf as a gesture of goodwill to a regional leader’ – So even if the higher echelons of Somali government and clan structure are not directly involved in organizing piracy, they probably do benefit. ”

One is entitled to wonder whether if such a government were to achieve stability there would be much impact on piracy.

Some of the money received for ransoms is also believed to be reaching Islamist Militants and being funnelled into their war efforts. Links between the Islamists and Al-Shaab, listed as a terrorist organisation by the US government, has raised concerns about ransoms paid to pirates reaching terrorists or the use of pirate by terrorists to create an incident leading to massive pollution and loss of lives.

Invisible Ships

With Mogadishu now reduced to little more than a pile of rubble by continuous conflict, pirates in need of a stable base have moved north to the Gulf of Aden since the end of 2007. Some 61 ships have been attacked or seized so far this year, a figure that rises day by day but which is, prehaps half of those that have actually been seized or attacked. Little attention has been paid to these ‘silent ships’ yet they do, in part, provide a rationale for the pirate’s activities, at least to the pirates themselves.

Spanish trawlers with West African crews habitually and illicitly reap the rich harvest of fish off the unprotected Somali coast. It is, literally, daylight robbery on a massive scale. They put nothing into the Somali economy, such as it is, but take a great deal from it.

A number of European companies have allegedly dumped toxic and nuclear waste in those same waters, polluting the fishing grounds and the beaches. Similar dumping along the Ivory Coast by Dutch company Trafigura led to at least 17 deaths and widespread health problems. Pirates aboard the m/v Faina claim that they want to use the ransom money to clean up the Somali coastline. It’s easy to dismiss such claims as merely an excuse to continue a very profitable business but the fact remains that complaints about illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste have been ignored and while no government has condoned these activities none have taken an active stand against it.

MV Faina Crew wait for ransom. Did toxic waste play a role?

One solution to that which could also make a dent in piracy would be to provide an internally mandated coast guard capability. Previous attempts to do so using private contractors have not only proved futile but provided pirates with the organisational skills to carry out attacks.

Private Affairs

Private security firms have not performed well in Somalia. Earlier this year French security company Secopex signed a deal with President Yusuf to provide marine security for Somalia and a personal bodyguard for Yusuf. The $50-$200m needed for the contract remains unfound.

US security provider Topcat signed a $50-$55m contract with the TFG in 2005 to target pirate motherships. The US government stepped in and blocked the contract on the grounds that it would breach an arms embargo. Saudi firm Al-Habiibi also won a contract but couldn’t deploy its personnel.Failed deals with private contractors may have given the pirates their skills

Somali-Canadian Coastguard had a contract with the Puntland government from 2002 to 2005. It’s effectiveness came into question when three of its personnel were sentenced to ten years imprisonment for pirating a Thai fishing boat they claimed to have been protecting. SOMCAN trained about 400 personnel in coastguard duties.

Finally, the Puntland International Development Corporation subcontracted an anti-piracy programme to Hart Security in November 1999. After training Somali personnel Hart walked away from the contract in 2002 because it was unclear whether the then Puntland government had the authority to honor it.

The net result is a group of young men, trained in weapons handling and marine tactics, with time on their hands and Somali warlords and businessmen willing to fund a new career for them. These men have trained others, formed disciplined forces which even have a ‘manual of good conduct’, and now number in their thousands.

There is one potential upside – if the international community does get its act together to create a Somali coastguard they could have a ready-made pool of potential trained and experienced recruits.

Canal Conundrum

An end to piracy would certainly be good news for Egypt. Although the head of the Suez Canal Authority, Captain Ahmed Fadl, has made expectedly anodyne comments on the influence of piracy on the canal’s fortunes there’s no denying that, as piracy has increased over the past few months revenues have started to fall. Over the past two months, according a report in Middle East Times income has fallen from $504.5m in August to $469.6m in September, with vessel throughput dropping from 1,993 to 1,872 in the same period.

Privately, the Egyptian government is concerned about the impact of piracy on its earnings from the canal, an important contributor to the country’s coffers.

Answering the unanswerable

In the face of a tenfold increase in insurance premiums and additional payments to seafarers, several companies are looking at the Cape Horn route, usually less economical. For now, competitiveness will keep companies using the canal but if bunker prices drop, then ’rounding the Horn’ might once more become common. Even without such a drop the potential is there for more companies to take the safer route, putting upward pressure on fuel and raw and manufactured goods.

In the meantime, seafarers are pretty much on their own. Some companies are now hiring armed guards forPirate in the bow, seafarers on the frontline their vessels, certain countries always have done so for their own-flagged vessels, but for the majority of vessels, especially the smaller ones like the Danica White and the Svitzer Korsakov, that’s not likely to be a practical or economic solution.

In some case, flag states may be uncomfortable with private armies on their vessels.

Of late, there has been an increase in the aggression of pirates but they still prefer live hostages. Shooting at them may encourage them to change that policy.

Low manning levels, too, make it easier for the pirates. So-called safe-manning levels may not provide enough manpower to keep a proper watch in pirate-infested waters. This is an issue that flag-states need to address and which ship companies must address. Insurers, too, could put pressure on by making it a condition of cover for piracy that enough crew be aboard to ensure a continuous watch.

One recent survey has shown that almost all pirates attacks in this area occur during daylight hours. The one exception occurred at a full moonlight. That lesson is clear: As far as possible transit the area at night. Speed, not surprisingly, is another factor, the faster you go the less likely the pirates will find and catch you and, of course, you’ll be in the area of high risk for a shorter time.Low manning levels, the pirate's friend

Keeping a continuous watch on radar and AIS watch can provide an early indication of a potential threat. Unidentified targets that appear to be shadowing your vessel may be a sign of trouble as are vessels that don’t appear to match their AIS signature. While the small skiffs used by pirates may be lost in the sea clutter the mother ships from which they are launched may well be visible electronically.

An alert and obvious visual watch may not only give forewarning but also discourage an attack, pirates don’t like you to know they’re coming.

While large vessels with high freeboard are less prone to attack they are subject to potshots from time to time by pirates who, prehaps, are hopeful that the vessel will stop. It may be wise to put a fire team on standby if suspicious boats or ships are noted.

Report suspicious activity early. Ensure that appropriate crew members know the location of the Ship Security Alert System and how, when, to activate it, but do not rely entirely on it as a means to notify the appropriate authorities that an attack is in progress.

Consider anti-piracy drills to ensure that your crew know what to do, and what you will be doing, should there be an attack. In the past few months armed pirates have been successfully driven off by an appropriately drilled crew using hoses and the master manouvering the vessel to prevent boarding. Anti-piracy drills may also encourage lookouts to keep a sharp watch.

Early alert and appropriate manouveres can be effective. The International Maritime Bureau reported two such incidents in its current weekly piracy report for 14th-20th October. Offices aboard a VLCC noted the fast approach of three fast vessels on its radar, took evasive action and changed course. In the second instance the master of a bulk carrier increased speed and manoeuvred the ship to keep the pirates at bay.

Review the resources on your vessel, including the vessel itself, with regard to how a pirate attack can be deterred. Size, speed and manoeuverability count. One enterprising master put his tug into a high-speed spin until the attackers gave up and left.

The safety of those aboard and the vessel itself is of paramount importance. The master of a bulk carrier will have different concerns to those of an LPG carrier or a cruise liner.A present from Puntland, unexploded rocket on the Sea Spirit

Once pirates are aboard, there is little that can be done. One North Korean crew did maintain control of their vessel by occupying the engine room and steering compartments and keeping the vessel away from Somali waters while maintaining contact with a US Navy warship until a navy helicopter caused sufficient distraction for the crew to overpower the pirates, resulting in several deaths. It is unlikely that most crews will be sufficiently well-trained to do something similar and the potential loss of seafarer lives almost certainly outweighs the value of such heroics.

Life as a hostage is such a traumatic experience that some victims have not returned to sea and suffer the effects of trauma for years or months afterwards. The ‘iron man’ culture so often found aboard ships can make such detention particularly difficult to take and counselling needs to be offered to victims when released.

It is important, as a hostage, to bear in mind that Somali pirates have not, so far, sought to harm their hostages. Unlike political or religious terrorists, pirates, while threatening, have nothing to gain by harming those they hold to ransom.

On average, it takes 45 days to negotiate and pay a ransom. It will be a trying period, but a ransom will be paid.

Piracy along the Somali coast will be resolved when the problems of Somalia itself are resolved. Seafarers will continue to be victimised for a long time to come.

Lessons From The Danica White

Ince & Co Article on Law and piracy

Piracy, Where’s The Love, Where Are The Bikinis?

Good News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists, Bad News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists

Getting French and Personal With Pirates

Don’t Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers

Piracy Needs A SASSy Response

The Danica White and The Pirates – All That Was Missing Was A Welcome Mat

Piracy Update – Svitzer Korsakov

Somalia and Gulf of Aden

Danish Maritime Authority Report On The Danica White (English)

Thomas Timlen’s worrying paper on SSAS

International Maritime Bureau

Rand Piracy Report

UK House of Commons Report

Maritime Piracy In The Modern World (American Bar Association Insights)

15 Reasons: Piracy Attack of a Ship is Different from Hijacking of Aircraft

Danica White, pirates and safe manning

Does LRAD Work?

Pirates, A Doom With A Q?

Piling Pineapples On Pirates The Russian Way

Don't Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers

 ICC, IMB, International Maritime Bureau, piracy  Comments Off on Don't Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers
Aug 142008

If you’ve read our postings on pirates and listened to The Lessons From The Danica White you’ll know about the motherships used by pirates to launch smaller boats to attack ships. The International Maritime Bureau has released photographs of what it believes may be motherships together with the advice below:

“To all ships transiting the Gulf of Aden

Please be advised that intelligence sources revealed that there are now two suspicious trawlers in the Gulf of Aden believed to be pirate mother vessels looking to attack ships with the intent to hijack.

The description of the suspected trawlers – long white, Russian made stern trawlers with names “BURUM OCEAN or ARENA or ATHENA”. One of the trawlers is believed to be operating at approximately 60 NM NE of Bossasso, Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.

All ships are strongly advised to maintain a strict 24 hours visual and radar watch while transiting these waters and report any attacks or suspicious boats including the trawlers named above to the 24 hour IMB PRC. Tel: +603 2031 0014 / +603 2078 5763 email:

Suspected Pirate Mother Vessels:




Source: Coalition Forces

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White

 Danica White, IMB, International Maritime Bureau, Somalia  Comments Off on New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Aug 102008

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Piracy has continued unabated since the taking of the Danica White in 2007.
Are lessons being learned? Bob Couttie and the Nautical Institute’s Steve Jones
discuss modern piracy.

Click Here for Podcast

Weekly Piracy Alerts

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, piracy  Comments Off on Weekly Piracy Alerts
Nov 282007

For more information on the following alerts go to the International Maritime Bureau here. 

Suspicious crafts

Recently reported incidents

24.11.2007: 0345 LT: 06:17.8S – 003:21.2E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
Four armed robbers in a small wooden boat boarded a container ship from aft.
They stole ship’s store and escaped.  No injuries to crew.
21.11.2007: 0212 LT: 06:12N-003:18E (15 miles from shore), Lagos, Nigeria.
Five pirates armed with knives boarded a tanker drifting around 15 nm from shore. Duty crew spotted the pirates and informed the duty officer. Alarm raised and crew mustered.  Pirates escaped with ship stores
01.11.2007: 0830 LT: Corentyne coast, Guyana.
Masked pirates armed with guns attacked a Guyanese fishing boat. The pirates stole the boats engines and equipment and then ordered the fishermen to board their craft and pilot their craft while they raided other boats. Later , the fishermen were taken to neighboring Suriname where they were left with the boat. The fishermen managed to return home after two days and report to the coast guard and police.
03.10.2007: 0700 LT: Bonny channel, Nigeria.
Pirates armed with guns and hiding in a mangrove swamp ambushed a passenger vessel during it’s passage to bonny town.  It is suspected some of the pirates could have mingled among the passengers and boarded the vessel at the jetty at Port Harcourt.  The pirates waited at the midway point and attacked the vessel when signaled. The pirates stole passenger valuables.  Pirates fired a volley of shots into the air before escaping.  Injured passengers received medical treatment ashore.
06.11.2007: Point Cruz, Solomon Islands.
Armed pirates boarded a fishing vessel at anchor. They stole crew personal belongings, cash money and ship’s properties.
08.10.2007: Panaji, off the Yermal coast in Udupi: Karnataka: India.
Pirates in canoes boarded a vessel carrying scientists on a
Marine research project.  After a brief struggle with the scientists, the pirates took the scientific instruments. It is unclear if the instruments were thrown into the water or stolen. The scientists are reported to be safe.

Weekly Piracy Report

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, Nigeria, piracy, Somalia  Comments Off on Weekly Piracy Report
Sep 252007

The International Maritime Bureau has issued the following weekly report

Recently reported incidents

14.09.2007: 0330 UTC: 06:18N – 003:22E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
Deck crew onboard a tanker carrying out STS operations noticed two small boats in the vicinity. Suddenly one of the boats with three persons on board approached the ship. The OOW was informed, alarm raised and crew mustered. Robbers noticed the alert crew and aborted the attempt.
14.09.2007: 0216 LT: 0616.5N – 003:21.3E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
The deck watchman on an anchored tanker noticed a fast boat, with 3-4 robbers, approaching from astern.  One robber was seen holding a pole with a hook attached to it. The OOW was informed, alarm raised, crew mustered and port control informed. On hearing the alarm, the robbers aborted the attempt.
23.09.2007: Kutubdia anchorage, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Whilst carrying out anti piracy rounds, on a bulk carrier at anchor, ship’s crew found forecastle store, door, lock broken and ships stores missing. Even though there were a number of shore personal working onboard the robbers went unnoticed.
22.09.2007: 1950 LT: off Palembang, Indonesia.
Several pirates hijacked a tanker, enroute to Cilacap from Palembang, with a cargo of Palm Olien. The master reported to TG. Buyut pilot station and they informed the tanker’s managers. IMB piracy reporting centre has alerted the authorities to look out for the tanker.
20.09.2007:  1715 LT: 110 NM West of Berbera, Somalia.
Pirates hijacked a fishing vessel and anchored it near the village of Raas Shula
All crew including the four Somali security guards have been taken out from the ship.
19.09.2007 : 0430 UTC: 01:33.6N – 051:41.5E: Somalia.
A blue-hulled suspicious vessel with white superstructure with two masts was drifting at a distance of 11.5nm from a bulk carrier.  Ship altered course to stay away from suspicious vessel. The suspicious vessel altered course, and speed a number of times. The bulk carrier continued to plot the suspicious vessel until finally past and clear.
Note: In this case, the IMB notes the movements of the suspicious vessel to be quite similar to those of fishing vessel.
17.09.2007: 0250 UTC: 02:27.1N – 051:56.0E, Somalia.
A bulk carrier underway sighted a vessel drifting on her port bow at a range of 12 nm.  The boat suddenly increased speed and moved towards the ship.  The ship took evasive action and increased speed to keep away from the suspicious craft. Due to ship’s higher speed, the suspicious boat moved away.
An hour later, another suspicious boat was sighted on the stbd bow; the ship took evasive action to keep away from the boat.  Due to ship’s higher speed, the boat was left behind.  Ship continued her passage.
11.09.2007: 2300 LT: vicinity of Ferguson Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea.
The captain of a workboat, transporting workers and cargo, jumped overboard when pirates boarded his vessel. The pirates robbed the crew and injured them with sharp objects. Later the crew received medical treatment at a shore hospital.  A search party was sent to locate the captain but he could not be found.
09.09.2007: 1145 LT: Posn 01:54.1N – 106:31.49E, 48 NM of Pulau Repong, South China Sea.
Two speedboats, with an unknown number of few men and believed to be armed, were trailing a yacht underway.  Suspicious of their intention, the yacht broadcast the incident via vhf radio.  A passing by container ship relayed the message to Singapore port authorities.  The Singapore port authorities relayed the message to MRCC Jakarta and broadcast a navigational warning via the Navtex and safety net system. The attempted attack was aborted.
18.08.2007: 0750 LT: 05:22.58N – 078:78.9E, 78 NM from coast, Sri Lanka.
Several fishing vessels chased and attempted to board a yacht while enroute from Maldives to Malaysia. The yacht managed to evade the attempted attack.
26.07.2007: 0730 LT: 40 NM west of Anambas islands, South China Sea.
A Chinese fishing vessel while underway was approached by a small rubber boat. Five pirates armed with guns opened fire at the fishing vessel and attempted to board.  The fishing vessel increased speed and managed to escape.  Bullets penetrated the bridge hull and damaged glass. No one was injured.  The fishermen reported to authorities in china, Singapore and Malaysia.