Reports by HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, MARTIN CARVALHO and LOSHANA K. SHAGAR
MALAYSIA will continue diplomacy and dialogue with the United States and China over their military presence in the South China Sea, says Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
“The presence and display of military might by China and the United States in the South China Sea is worrying.
“As such, we will intensify our dialogue and diplomacy with China and the United States to avoid the area becoming a war zone,” he said when replying to a question from Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (BN-Kepala Batas).
Asked by Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) on the presence of nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships along the Straits of Malacca, Mohamad said such vessels were permitted to pass through.
“But we will not allow it if they want to hold joint military exercise or to dock their vessels here as it may bring conflict to the region,” he said.
He noted that safety along the straits was crucial as it is the busiest waterway in the world with some 100,000 ships passing through it a year.
Earlier, Mohamad said Malaysia decided to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia following the safe repatriation of Malaysians who wanted to return from the conflict zone in Yemen.
“The mission has been accomplished and there is no need for our armed forces to be in Saudi Arabia.
“We do not want to get involved in any conflict between neighbours,” he said.
However, he added Malaysia would continue to strengthen military ties with Saudi Arabia.
Malaysia, he said, would only send its armed troops abroad if requested for under the auspices of the United Nation’s peacekeeping forces.
At present, Mohamad said there were 800 armed forces personnel based in Lebanon under the UN.