17 October 2019
Malaysia’s navy needs upgrading to deal with the possibility of armed conflict in the South China Sea, the country’s foreign minister said on Thursday ahead of the long-awaited release of a Defence White Paper expected to outline a 10-year plan for the armed forces.
Saifuddin Abdullah spelled out in parliament how China’s coastguard vessels had a 24-hour presence around the South Luconia Shoals off the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo, adding that ships under the Royal Malaysian Navy “are smaller than the coastguard vessels from China”.
Despite not wanting conflict, Malaysian equipment had to be upgraded “so we are able to better manage our waters should there be a conflict between major powers in the South China Sea”, he said. Although Malaysia could issue protest notes if other nations encroached into its waters, the country’s lack of enforcement ability was a weak spot, the minister warned.
… Protest notes were often not made public to avoid “naming and shaming the other country”, said Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, but this raised questions about efficacy.
“Protest notes at least help to keep one’s claim alive, and serve as a record of official action undertaken to assert one’s claim. At least in Southeast Asia, such protest notes, even if issued, are often unpublicised … for these reasons of maintaining stability and preventing inflammation of the situation. But that does lead to questions about transparency.”
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 18/10/2019