Defense Ministers from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are meeting today to discuss how they can improve the Trilateral Cooperative
Defense Ministers from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are meeting today to discuss how they can improve the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA).
The three nations are particularly interested in building greater security in is the Sulu Sea, Sulawesi, and the east coast of Sabah. These areas have high levels of drug smuggling and piracy. In the last few years, the three nations have established joint patrols of these areas.
The joint operations have largely proven successful in seizing illegal contraband, stopping undocumented migration, and preventing kidnappings. However, some raise the concern that these improvements may not last because the three nations have not developed their infrastructure and economy to reduce the root cause of systemic social issues and economic inequality that are a driving factor of the illicit activities being combatted.
Reducing illicit activities, as the TCA sets out to do, will likely lead to greater short-term progress towards the trilateral alliance’s economic goals as reducing piracy and smuggling bolsters licit markets. However, the TCA alone cannot resolve the issues of high crime, thus expect crime rates to remain persistent until the problems of poverty, inequality, and polarization are better addressed.
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