KUCHING: Malaysia and its neighbours in the region will continue to hold fast to the principle of diplomacy in resolving disputes, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday.
He said there was no reason disputes between Asean countries should result in military confrontation because the bloc believed in diplomacy.
“We have all agreed that any dispute should be resolved through negotiations and diplomatic channels.
“If negotiations fail, the dispute can be referred to a third party, like what we will do in the case of the Pulau Batu Putih dispute, which is to refer it to the International Court of Justice,” he told reporters after opening the Armed Forces career exposition at Padang Merdeka here.
Najib, who is also Defence Minister, said Asean countries would respect the rules of engagement that had been agreed upon so that disputes would not be settled through military means.
“We must avoid any action that can cause Asean members to open fire on one another,” he added.
However, he said Malaysia needed to maintain a strong military to defend its sovereignty.
“This doesn’t mean we will resort to military action, but that we depend on our military to protect our national interests,” he said.
On the proposal by the Sarawak Government that its border with Kalimantan, Indonesia, be fenced up, Najib said the National Security Division would look into it.
“Fencing up costs money, so we have to check on the financial implications,” he said.
On the intake of recruits into the Armed Forces, he said response from non-Malays, except the Ibans, was still low.
The Armed Forces takes in 7,000 to 8,000 recruits a year.
Earlier in his speech, Najib said the Armed Forces was for all Malaysians.
“It is our hope that through expos such as this the Armed Forces can attract more Malaysians from all races to enlist,” he said.
The three-day expo, themed The Armed Forces: A Complete Career and Lifestyle, showcases career opportunities in the army, navy and air force.