KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 (Bernama) — The Dewan Rakyat today passed the Merchant Shipping Ordinance (Amendment) Bill 2016 aimed at standardising national maritim law with the international maritime community.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi, when winding up the debate on the bill earlier, gave assurance that the government would ensure that all merchant shipping companies would adhere to the national maritime law in ensuring the wellbeing of seafarers.

“The Marine Department will carry out annual audit on these merchant shipping companies to ensure compliance of the maritime law,” he said.

The amendments to the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 were made in line with the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 by Malaysia, which was adopted since July 31, 2013.

Among others, the amendment on Section 90 provides every seafarer on board a Malaysian ship to a minimum ten hours of rest in any twenty-four hour period and 77 hours in any seven-day period.

The amendment on Section 103, on the other hand, compels owner of every Malaysian ship and any foreign ship within Malaysian waters to provide adequate health protection and medical care for seafarers employed on board the ship and that the medicine chest, equipment and medical guide carried on board is properly maintained and inspected by a responsible officer.

Earlier, Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (BN-Bagan Serai) when debating the bill, urged the government to ensure effective enforcement of the law, including through periodical inspections by the Marine Department, to ensure that it would not be manipulated and exploited by shipping companies.

He said the government should also look into the influx of foreign workers in the shipping industry, which he claimed had closed the door for local workers.

“Based on the 2014 statistics, a total of 7,193 or 46 per cent of registered seafarers are foreigners,” he said.

Meanwhile, Datuk Johari Abdul (PKR-Sungai Petani) called for an introduction of Marine Cadet as one of the uniformed bodies for co-curriculum activity to expose the students to shipping industry.

Anuar Abd Manap (BN-Sekijang), on the other hand, wanted all trainees at the Malaysian Maritime Academy to be exposed to the law so that they would know their rights when the time comes for them to enter the job market.