Malaysia is steadfast in its position on maintaining international peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region
by AZREEN HANI / pic by BERNAMA
THE Australian officials will provide further clarification to the Malaysian government on the issue of controversial tripartite cooperation between Australia-the UK-the US known as AUKUS.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (picture) said that he has agreed to the suggestion by his Australian counterpart Marise Payne who suggested for an in-depth briefing to be conducted on the matter.
“Recently, I also had a telephone conversation with Payne. She briefed me on AUKUS as well, and I have agreed to the proposal by her to send officials to Malaysia to provide us with further clarification and understanding on this matter,” Saifuddin said in a statement yesterday.
He added that Malaysia is steadfast in its position on maintaining international peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, including issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
According to the minister, Malaysia’s stand on the issue had been discussed and agreed upon in the Cabinet meeting last Friday.
On Saturday, Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged all parties to avoid any provocation and arms competition in the region, underscoring the importance of respecting and adhering to the existing laws and diplomatic approaches.
According to Wisma Putra, Ismail Sabri had been briefed by the Australian PM Scott Morrison on the issue of controversial tripartite cooperation between Australia-the UK-the US.
“The Malaysian PM expressed concern over this cooperation. This AUKUS is going to catalyse the nuclear weapons race in the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, it will provoke other powers to also act more aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” the ministry said over the weekend.
Saifuddin said he shares the PM’s concerns that the establishment of AUKUS could lead to the escalation of the arms race in the region.
“It could also potentially spark tension among the world superpowers, and aggravate aggression between them in the region, particularly in the South China Sea. Hence, I call for all concerned parties within this region and beyond to strengthen further active cooperation in promoting and sustaining the region as a region of peace, stability, as well as of growth and prosperity as espoused in the Asean Outlook on Indo-Pacific,” Saifuddin added.
He reiterated Ismail Sabri’s calls for all concerned parties to respect and comply with existing Malaysia’s national regime under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Asean’s South-East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty and Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Treaty.
The issue of AUKUS — which among others aimed to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines — had received mixed reactions, particularly from China and France.
According to an AFP report, France last Friday recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in a ferocious row over the scrapping of a submarine contract, an unprecedented step that revealed the extent of French anger against its allies.
The announcement represented “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners”, said the statement.
Beijing reportedly described the new alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, questioning Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and warning the Western allies that they risked “shooting themselves in the foot”.