Aukus impact on SEA security to be discussed at retreat

THE government’s stand on Aukus is clear as it views the regional security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States as having the potential to undermine peace and stability in South-East Asia, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

“It could also provoke other powers to act more aggressively in this region, particularly the South China Sea,” the Senior Minister (Security) said during Ministerial Question Time in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria (BN-Parit), who asked about the stance of the Defence Ministry towards the controversial Aukus pact.

Hishammuddin said he had recently met with Australia’s Special Envoy Vice Admiral David Johnston and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

“In both discussions, I stressed that Malaysia does not want to be dragged into the geopolitics of superpowers,” he said.

Hishammuddin said during his meetings with Johnston and Dutton, he informed his foreign counterparts that special approval must be obtained from the Malaysian government if Australia intends to enter Malaysian waters, dock at Malaysian ports, or conduct joint-military exercises.

“A special agreement must first be obtained and it will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

The minister said the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) retreat next month would be an important platform to strengthen regional defence cooperation in light of the Aukus pact.

The ADMM retreat, which will be held in Brunei, will be deliberating on the stance of Asean countries towards Aukus.

“In fact, I’m sure this issue will also be discussed there, which will help to strengthen understanding among Asean countries over the Aukus pact,” he added.

Hishammuddin said he would also be calling Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh and Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“I hope what was bilaterally formed between Malaysia with Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will help us find ways to balance global superpowers in the region,” he said, adding that the Aukus pact must be collectively addressed by Asean countries as a 10-country bloc.

Aukus is a trilateral security agreement for the Indo-Pacific region that was announced on Sept 15.

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