US embassy cable - 03HOCHIMINHCITY713

Vietnam: Pirates in the Gulf of Thailand

Identifier: 03HOCHIMINHCITY713
Wikileaks: View 03HOCHIMINHCITY713 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Created: 2003-08-07 09:30:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PBTS PHSA EFIS EWWT PTER PREL PGOV VM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000713 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR EAP/BCLTV 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PBTS, PHSA, EFIS, EWWT, PTER, PREL, PGOV, VM 
SUBJECT: Vietnam:  Pirates in the Gulf of Thailand 
 
1.  (SBU)  During a courtesy call on the Kien Giang 
provincial People's Committee, Ambassador Burghardt asked 
Chairman Bui Ngoc Suong and Vice Chairman Van Ha Phong for 
their views on reports of increasing maritime piracy in the 
Gulf of Thailand and the impact on Vietnamese fishermen. 
Noting that the majority of cases involved Cambodian 
criminal elements, Chairman Suong indicated that pirates 
from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have also been 
implicated in attacks on Vietnamese fishermen. 
 
2.  (SBU)  According to the Chairman, there are no measures 
currently in place to effectively control piracy on the Gulf 
of Thailand.  One important contributing factor has to do 
with the lack of a definitive maritime border between 
Vietnam and Cambodia.  As a result, Vietnamese fishermen 
often stray into what Cambodian considers its waters in 
search of more profitable catches.  These fishermen view the 
threat of piracy as a small price to pay, especially since 
most acts of piracy consist of holding fishing boats and 
their crews hostage while ransom demands are worked out with 
the families.  While ransom demands might start as high as 
15 million VND (USD$1000), they can often be negotiated down 
to a more manageable 5 million VND (USD$330).  According to 
the Chairman, chances for greater enforcement from the 
Cambodian side seemed unlikely, as many of the pirates from 
across the border appear to be law enforcement officers from 
the coast guard, border guard, or fisheries management 
agency.  Last year, Vietnamese forces arrested one Cambodian 
lieutenant and shot another (affiliations unknown) for acts 
of piracy. 
 
3.  (U)  Kien Giang province, located in southwestern 
Vietnam, shares a 56-kilometer land border with Cambodia and 
a long history of maritime disputes in the Gulf of Thailand. 
Problems have likely been exacerbated recently due to 
increased fishing as the province seeks to actively develop 
its seafood production capabilities. Income generated from 
fishing accounts for 30 percent of Kien Giang's seafood 
products industry - an industry which generated over 2.5 
billion VND ($163 million USD) in revenue last year and 
represented 50 percent of all exports from the province. 
With Kien Giang alone accounting for 11 percent of Vietnam's 
total output in this sector, an increase in the incidents of 
maritime piracy may have the potential to threaten more than 
just the livelihoods of a few fishermen, but for now 
provincial officials seem resigned to accept the status quo. 
 
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