Emerging Security Paradigm in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region
: A Blue Ocean of Malaysia-India Maritime Security Cooperation

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study investigates the emergence of Malaysia-India Maritime Security Cooperation (MIMSC) in response to traditional threats and non-traditional security threats at the Eastern Indian Ocean Region (EIOR).

This thesis argues that although both Malaysia and India have identified the maritime significance of the EIOR to them, the common threat faced by them in that region, and have recognised the need for cooperation in maritime security, it appears at present that MIMSC in EIOR projects a lack of robustness in its engagement. This is despite both an appreciation of the relations between the two countries, and a substantial ability to address the challenges of the EIOR. The positive relations that are challenged by these maritime threats show that there is a pressing need for both countries to draw up effective maritime policies. But it is as yet unclear why these countries have failed to do so. The paucity of scientific investigation into the question of why the two states have failed to draw up an effective maritime policy cooperation despite their potential to do so, and the lack of availability of substantive arguments, turn this question into a significant field of academic inquiry.

In order to address this issue, this thesis will ask three sub-questions, relating to: a) the drivers of MIMSC in EIOR, b) the emerging areas of maritime cooperation in mitigating traditional and non-traditional threats in EIOR, and c) the critical factors that would contribute towards a successful MIMSC in EIOR. It will cover the dynamics of MIMSC from the post-Cold War era in EIOR, and draw more substantial answers to how MIMSC in post-Cold War period is a ‘missed opportunity’ but projects a ‘promising opportunity’ to address issues of maritime security threats in the EIOR.

Qualitative research design is employed in this research inquiry. This research has used two primary data collection method: a) in-depth personal interviews and b) focus group interviews. Informants were selected through purposeful sampling, focusing on high-ranked retired and serving officials from the Navy, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, maritime security agencies, and think tanks. This research used the NVIVO 10 software program to conduct a Thematic Content Analysis (TCA) to analyse data obtained through interviews.

Several emerging areas of maritime collaboration are shaping MIMSC in the EIOR such as: a) partnership in search and rescue operation, b) humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, b) increasing interoperability of constabulary role, c) partnership in defence industry, and d) partnership in maritime resources and competence. These areas of maritime collaboration are highly dependent on major critical success factors such as: a) shaping both formal and informal bilateral and multilateral maritime cooperation, b) overcoming bureaucracy and statutory bottlenecks, c) shared cost-benefit and d) change in maritime strategic thinking.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSunil Khilnani (Supervisor) & Harsh Pant (Supervisor)

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