China trains and supports maritime militia to sail in the South China Sea
Representational image of a Chinese vessel in South China Sea Reuters

Indonesia's navy said on Saturday that it had seized a fishing vessel carrying one tonne of crystal methamphetamine off Batam on Wednesday. According to local media, the drugs were smuggled in rice sacks.

A patrol boat KRI Sigurot 864 spotted the boat MV Sunrise Glory, which was flying a Singapore flag, as it entered Indonesian waters in the Singapore Strait. The vessel that was operated by Taiwanese crew members was subsequently captured in the Phillip Channel, between Singapore and Batam.

The Indonesian navy told Channel NewsAsia that the crew could not provide original documents and had only photocopied documents from Indonesia. The authorities suspect the fishing vessel of being a "phantom ship", which has likely used many names, including Sun De Man 66.

It is believed that the crew members use the vessel to drugs and smuggle goods by using fake documents. The crew used to replace the flag of the vessel according to the country the ship passed by.

The local media cited information from the captain and reported that the boat was sailing from Malaysia to Taiwan. However, when the port clearance documents were checked, it was revealed that the vessel have sailed from Malaysia to Thailand.

After examining the vessel at Batu Ampar Port in Batam, navy personnel found the drugs stored in 41 sacks of rice. The crew members have been detained for further investigation.

In October 2016, a Singapore-flagged vessel, along with its 12 crew members, was detained by the Indonesian navy for allegedly smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items from the city state. This arrest came after Indonesia increased its sea patrols which are primarily targeted to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

In 2016, Indonesian Navy had found a truckload of used camouflage uniforms of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) after they seized 19 trucks with smuggled goods. The authorities said that the SAF attire included the green digital or pixelated camouflage uniforms that were first issued in 2008. An older version with overlapping splotches of black, brown and green patches were also found in the stack. The servicemen commonly refer to both the uniforms No. 4 dress.

Under Singaporean military law, unauthorised sale of SAF uniforms or equipment is an offence. Convicts who are guilty of misappropriation or theft of SAF property could be jailed for up to three years.