10 Singaporeans detained by Indonesian navy in Riau

A member of the Indonesian Navy inspecting the passports of the Singaporean anglers caught sailing in an unlicensed boat off Bintan.
A member of the Indonesian Navy inspecting the passports of the Singaporean anglers caught sailing in an unlicensed boat off Bintan.ST PHOTO: F. PANGESTU

The Indonesian navy has detained 10 recreational anglers from Singapore for sailing in an unlicensed boat off Bintan island.

The Indonesia-flagged Rantau Bertuah, manned by Indonesian boat captain Nasir and his crew of three, was sailing from Batam to Lagoi, on the northern tip of Bintan, when it was stopped on Friday, said a navy spokesman yesterday.

Major Josdy Damopolii told reporters that the fishing boat, which had been modified from a cargo vessel, was sailing in Indonesian waters without valid permits and a proper passenger manifest.

According to Major Josdy, the 10 Singaporeans, aged between 33 and 55, as well as two Indonesian passengers, were in the custody of the navy.

They were expected to be handed over to immigration authorities for further investigations.

"The passengers had planned to fish, and most of the Singaporeans detained did not have passports, so they will be handed to the immigration (authorities)," he added.

Immigration chief Engelbertus Rustarto of Riau Islands province, of which Batam and Bintan are a part, said his office will study the case to determine the nature of the violations committed by the Singaporeans.

"Deportation can only be decided after investigations," he said.

This arrest is the third such case in Riau Islands involving Singaporeans on fishing trips in the area.

Previous cases, however, involved Singaporean boat captains - Shoo Chiau Huat and Ricky Tan Poh Hui - both of whom remain in jail pending their court hearings in provincial capital Tanjung Pinang.

Shoo was arrested with seven Singaporeans and six Malaysians on board Singapore-flagged Selin in Tanjung Berakit, just off Bintan island on April 16, while Tan and his crew and nine passengers, were caught on Aug 21.

In those cases, the passengers, mainly recreational anglers, were deported shortly after they were detained, while the boat captains were held for trespassing or immigration offences.

Indonesia has been increasing sea patrols - primarily targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing - after President Joko Widodo last year announced plans to beef up the country's fisheries sector.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a diplomatic note over the extended detention of Shoo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 06, 2016, with the headline '10 Singaporeans detained by Indonesian navy in Riau'. Subscribe