KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia as a sovereign nation has its own position regarding the security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, known as Aukus, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The Defence Minister said defence cooperation within Asean was equally important, especially with the latest development related to Aukus.
"But this does not mean we cannot approach the super powers that are involved.
"We are not saying that we are strong or anything, but at least we have our own position as a sovereign nation.
“At the same time, within the 10 Asean nations, we will also state our own position," he said in his winding-up speech for his ministry for the 12th Malaysia Plan.
"The strength that we have within Asean can be voiced out to any parties that try to deny our position in this region," added Hishammuddin.
Hishammuddin was replying to a question from Mohamad Sabu (PH-Kota Raja) on the issue of geopolitics, which touches on Malaysia’s relationship with regional superpowers, and its position in the South China Sea outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Malaysia had previously expressed concerns that Aukus could spark a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region and provoke aggressive action by other powers in the South China Sea.
Aukus is a trilateral security agreement involving Australia, the UK and US, which was announced on Sept 15 for the Indo-Pacific region.
Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
On the question on whether the defence ministry would allow an audit either by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) or in the Dewan Rakyat over late arrival of defence equipment,
Hishammuddin assured that the government would file claims for the losses from incomplete sales or for late arrival.
He also admitted that there were some delays in the procurement of assets but had given his assurance that it would be addressed by the ministry in the best manner.
"On defence assets, it will take some time, but if there is a delay, there are procedures for us to make sure that it will be delivered in time so it will not affect any of our planning," he said.
On the question of replacement of dilapidated military assets, Hishammuddin said the ministry would look into collaborating with local defence industry players to develop Malaysia’s own defence assets, besides the usual foreign corporations.