KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to re-evaluate itself as a maritime nation to protect its sovereignty and peace, says Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
“These steps are necessary because we are living in a transition period.
“The power of the West has shifted to the East – particularly China, Korea and Japan – making the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca very important in trade.
“We need to adjust our country’s defence according to the changing times, ” he told reporters after launching the Malaysia Institute of Defence and Security conference 2019 yesterday.
He added that Malaysia also needed to uphold its policy of neutrality so that the region could avoid being riddled by conflict caused by fighting between super-powers.
In his keynote address, he said history proved that Malaysians were a seafaring people, and at the region’s prime, the Malacca Sultanate was an empire that covered a vast portion of South East Asia and was a crucial port from as early as the 15th Century.
He added that countries rich in marine resources and located along shipping lanes needed to improve their use of resources to qualify themselves as maritime nations.
He also noted that the Malaysian Armed Forces had undergone many transformations – from an opposing force to one capable of facing any threat on land, sea, in the air and now within the cyber realm.
“That being said, the Armed Forces need to be modernised with current weaponry and assets.
“In my opinion, we do not have enough and need to focus on this in the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plan, provided we have the finances to do so, ” he said.