Australia urged to engage its Asia Pacific region partners to address Aukus nuclear-powered submarine concerns

PETALING JAYA: Australia should address concerns following its development of nuclear-powered submarines that it is trying to acquire via Aukus, its new trilateral partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

During a courtesy video conference to Dr Wee by the High Commissioner of Australia to Malaysia Dr Justin Lee, Dr Wee said that perceptions of these submarines’ capabilities must be deftly addressed so that Aukus does not cause further shocks to the current relations in the Asia-Pacific.

During their conversation, Dr Wee had also reiterated Malaysia’s impartiality within Asean’s Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality and commitment to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ).

"I urged Ambassador Dr Lee to engage closely with Malaysia’s regional partners to explain Australia’s trilateral security pact between the UK and USA as this pact has raised grave concerns of Australia’s development of nuclear-powered submarines capability and the possibility of igniting an arms race in the region," said Dr Wee on Facebook on Monday (Sept 20).

Dr Wee said besides the Aukus issue, he also shared with Dr Lee on Malaysia’s priorities for the transport and logistics sector’s recovery heading to a post-pandemic era where the nation would need to work with its regional partners such as Australia.

"We must emphasise continued development in transport infrastructure and keep logistics flowing smoothly as we had done since the first movement control order last year," he said.

Dr Wee said they also touched on the first Australia‐Malaysia Annual Leaders’ Meeting between Malaysia and Australia held on Jan 27, whereby it had elevated the two countries' relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) underpinned by three areas of cooperation, namely economic prosperity, society and technology, defence and security.

"In this area, the Transport Ministry will continue to hold close discussions with our Australian counterparts and share experience on port operations, development, digitisation, and decarbonisation and railway standards and development know-how.

"I also called on Australia’s support in Malaysia’s bid for re-election as International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council Member for the 2022-2023 biennium during the IMO’s 32nd Session," said Dr Wee.

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