KUALA LUMPUR Sept 17 2017 : Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman today reiterated that Malaysia continues to pursue an independent, principled and pragmatic foreign policy.
Responding to several allegations on the matter by Pribumi Bersatu policy and strategy bureau chief Rais Hussin, Anifah said the country’s foreign policy has an overarching thrust to safeguard its sovereignty and national interests as well as to contribute meaningfully towards a just and equitable community of nations.
Rais, in an article published by a newsportal on Friday accused the government of failing to safeguard the country’s interests, particularly in relation to its ties with China and that the country has entered into “the orbit of Chinese influence”.
He also claimed that Malaysia had failed to contain China’s increasing assertiveness in South China Sea at the Asean stage.
In his statement today, Anifah said the conduct of Malaysia’s foreign policy will continue to be guided by the principles of respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non–interference in the affairs of other nations, peaceful settlement of disputes, peaceful co–existence and mutual benefit in relations.
“Therefore, I am perplexed to discover inaccurate and false narrative in his comment article, and wonder whether Rais Hussin was being deliberately obtuse,” he said.
Anifah said increased economic and investment activities between Malaysia and China were the result of globalisation and the law of supply and demand.
“Likewise, increased activities in the sphere of security would include closer military cooperation. It should in no way be construed as a sign that Malaysia has entered the orbit of Chinese influence.
“Malaysia has similar relations with many other countries, including the United States of America, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Singapore, etc,” he said.
On Rais’ allegation that Malaysia has allowed Chinese fishing vessels to encroach into Malaysian waters, Anifah said the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agencies (MMEA) will arrest any fishing vessels that conduct illegal fishing activities in Malaysia’s maritime areas.
“MMEA vessels and aircraft, as well as vessels and aircraft belonging to the Malaysian Armed Forces conduct routine patrol and surveillance of Malaysia’s maritime areas. Chinese fishing vessels have been spotted only sporadically, and therefore it is completely untrue and utterly erroneous to suggest that Chinese fishing vessels cruise along the coasts of West and East Malaysia on a weekly basis,” he said.
Addressing Rais’ claim that Malaysia is now a quasi-alliance of China after a recent port visit of two Chinese submarines in Kota Kinabalu, Anifah said military vessels from numerous countries including the United States, Australia, Japan, France, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore had done the same and will continue to do so.
“Therefore, it is clearly a fallacy to equate the recent docking of Chinese military vessels as a sign of Malaysia quasi–alliance with China, ” he added.
Anifah explained that military vessels undertake port call at foreign countries to replenish supply, provide shore leave to the crew after long period at sea, as well as to undertake minor maintenance.
He added that port call by foreign military vessels also contribute to local economies.
“With regard to the procedure, any foreign military vessels planning to make port call at Malaysian ports, including at Kota Kinabalu, must submit such request to the government of Malaysia through diplomatic channels. Such request would be considered by the relevant Malaysian agencies before being submitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for final approval,” he said.
Anifah said Malaysia upholds the supremacy of the rule of law and it believes that international law is the equaliser amongst states, regardless of their political, economic or military power.
“All countries must work together to ensure peace and stability, as well as maritime order,” he added.
As for Rais’ allegation that Malaysia had failed to address Chinese activities in South China Sea when it chaired Asean and during the East Asia Summit in 2015, Anifah said Malaysia has done admirably in advancing discourse on the issue, taking into account that Asean works on the principle of consensus,.
“Malaysia’s policy on the South China Sea is clear and consistent. Throughout its chairmanship of Asean in 2015, Malaysia has impressed upon all countries the need to ensure peace, security and stability and to avoid the threat or use of force, as well as to avoid activities that could escalate or complicate situation.
“Malaysia further stated that recent activities have eroded trust and confidence amongst parties. Malaysia also called on all parties to ensure non–militarisation in the South China Sea.”
Anifah also stressed that Malaysia’s principled and consistent position was well–received and well–accepted, and reflected as agreed texts in various documents issued during Malaysia’s chairmanship including the various Chairman’s Statements, Joint Communique of Asean Ministerial Meeting, etc.
He added that the texts were also used in various documents during Laos’ chairmanship last year.