AUKUS could politically, economically affect Malaysia

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by BERNAMA

THE trilateral cooperation agreement between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS) might cause certain ramifications, both economically and politically, for Malaysia.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that recent developments in the Indo-Pacific has the potential to trigger an arms race between countries in the region.

“AUKUS is seen as a Western or US move to control China. The agreement with Australia means the US will share all the technologies of nuclear submarines to Australia. Previously, only the UK had such privilege. In doing so, the US will cover so much of the vast Indo-Pacific and there will be a nuclear submarine base.

“The quest for the US to restrain China can cause instability and affect Malaysia’s relationship with China. Malaysia has a huge economic importance to China; we have a lot of interest with China, especially in terms of trade, and there are a lot of Chinese investments in Malaysia,” he said.

If there are military actions to come, Mazlan opined on what kind of stand Malaysia will make as it will be forced to support one side, either the US or China.

On top of that, China’s claims in the South China Sea will also come into play as the academician views neighbouring countries such as Singapore and the Philippines as likely to vouch for the US, with the latter housing several US military bases following its dispute with China over territories.

The Malaysian government’s move to get in touch with China on the formation of AUKUS, Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture) had said, was simply to get the republic’s viewpoint.

“I see that the statement (Opposition’s claim) is baseless because what I have informed the Dewan Rakyat is far from getting any instructions from China,” he said in a Bernama report.

In the Dewan Rakyat last week, the minister said that a brief visit to China will be on the cards amid debates on AUKUS recently.

He said the visit aims to seek the views of the Chinese government on the issue, as well as on defence and other related matters.

Pakatan Harapan’s Security Committee has called on Hishammuddin and Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to state Malaysia’s position in the Parliament on AUKUS.

“Malaysia being at the geographical centre of these increasing geopolitical competitions must deliberate and state clearly a position,” the committee said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies deputy director Dr Kartini Aboo [email protected] said one impact of AUKUS could be the start of a new Cold War era between the Quadrilateral members against China.

“The US and Australia are maintaining a good alliance, though Australia is a bit reserved to call China a threat when clearly the Australia-China relationship brings mutual benefit to both, especially in trade and investment.

“The US and Australia have to be willing to change the narrative of seeing China as a threat, but as a mutual partner. The prejudices over socialism towards modern China are not making this world any better,” she told TMR.

Kartini also said another implication is that it creates a confrontational motive, which in the past has caused many wars and those profiting from it are the capitalists, particularly weapons and artillery manufacturers, at the expense of people/civilians and the environment.

Saifuddin had said 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 him, Australian officials will provide further clarification to the Malaysian government on the issue of the controversial tripartite cooperation.