KUALA LUMPUR – April 4, 2020: Former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman would like the government to openly voice its disapproval to China over a survey ship that breached into Malaysian waters last Friday.
He is of the view that it is crucial for Malaysia to speak up against China’s surveillance on the country’s territory, adding that doing so would serve as a reiteration of Malaysia’s objection over China’s claim on the almost entire South China Sea.
“This issue is of national interest. Other deliberations such as the need to consider China’s image and the likes should be secondary,” pointed out Anifah in a letter to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Malaysia – along with Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines – has consistently objected to China’s claim in these waters, which is one of the world’s busiest waterways, due to its use of a demarcation method that did not adhere to international laws.
“Our ships from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Royal Malaysian Navy might be smaller and cannot block China’s ships but at least we must show our commitment in not allowing them to do as they please in our waters.
“Close surveillance and shadowing must also be done and the government, through the Foreign Ministry, must also express the country’s displeasure over the presence of Chinese ships in our maritime territory,” he wrote.
The first time a Chinese ship that was not a cruise vessel entered Malaysian waters was in 2012 in which a China Coast Guard (CCG) ship interrupted the seismic activities research done by a contractor hired by Petronas.
While the CCG ship did not ram the contractor’s vessel like they did to the Vietnam and the Philippines, Anifah who was the foreign minister then, still aired the country’s dissatisfaction publicly and raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart.
“I believe it is timely for the Malaysian government to set up a special entity to handle our maritime issues in relations to the demarcation of our maritime borders with neighbouring countries, the South China Sea disputes, the maritime economic and the blue economy.
“This entity should report directly to the prime minister so as to minimalise political considerations at the ministerial level,” said Anifah.