Aiming for regional peace

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will seek views from Beijing on defence issues following the new security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States known as Aukus, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) told the Dewan Rakyat.

He expressed concerns that if the situation was not managed properly when dealing with the world’s superpowers, there is a fear that untoward incidents might be triggered that could affect the security of the region.

Hishammuddin said he planned to make a short working visit to China soon to discuss the matter.

“I plan in the near future to make a visit there (China) to get the views of the country’s leadership, especially in the context of defence.

“And whether there will be any follow-up actions from what had been announced by the three countries,” he said in his winding-up speech in reply to questions raised to his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Meanwhile, he said balancing the two major powers in the context of Aukus as well as Malaysia’s relationship with the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) was a matter of concern.

“This is important because the FPDA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and what we have built over the past 50 years with Australia, New Zealand Singapore and UK can be used as our strength to balance the major powers,” he said.

On Sept 15, the US, UK and Australia unveiled the new security trilateral partnership arrangement Aukus, where Australia will be equipped with a fleet of advanced nuclear-powered submarines, among other items

Malaysia had expressed its concern that the security partnership could potentially spark a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement on Sept 18, said it was feared that the move would provoke other powers to also act aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea.

China immediately denounced Aukus when its foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian described it as a Western allies partnership which “seriously undermines regional peace and stability as well as intensifying arms race”.

Hishammuddin also said he had expressed Malaysia’s position and concern to his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton during a phone conversation two days ago.

“And I have conveyed Malaysia’s stance as stated by our Prime Minister, which is, the newly established trilateral security pact between Australia, UK and US had created some concerns.

“This is because it has the potential to disrupt security and stability in South-East Asia region.

“Therefore, all parties should refrain from using any military action that can be considered provocative, in addition to the potential of an increase in tension and triggering of conflicts in our region,” Hishammuddin said.

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