PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia does not want to be dragged into a public debate with Singapore over security in the Straits of Malacca as it would only hurt their good bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said.
He said that Singapore should respect Malaysia’s stand of not wanting a third party in the matter and should not publicly push for it.
While Singapore had the right to express its views, it should also respect the stand of others, especially when the issue touched on the question of sovereignty, he said.
“We don’t want to get into an open debate with Singapore over this matter. If they are really concerned, they should use the existing mechanism to discuss their concern with us, instead of pushing for the presence of a third party in the area.
“We should use the existing good bilateral relations that exist between us to discuss the matter,” he said when asked to comment on a statement by Singapore’s Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean which questioned the capabilities of the Malaysian and Indonesian navies in ensuring the safety of the strait.
Teo was quoted as saying on Monday that countries along the Straits of Malacca should accept the United States' proposal for joint patrols as the waterway was vulnerable to terrorist attack.
Speaking to reporters after signing a condolence book on the death of former Fijian President and Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Kapaiwai Tuimacilai Mara, Syed Hamid said that Teo’s statement was inappropriate.
The US proposal last month that it be allowed to help in joint patrols in the area was well accepted by Singapore but Malaysia and Indonesia had flatly rejected the offer.
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