PETALING JAYA, Aug 12 – Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub is concerned that Putrajaya is in danger of making Malaysia a new “satellite” of China in its haste to shore up relations with the economic and military superpower.
Salahuddin, who is also Pakatan Harapan vice-president, said reports that Malaysia will consider China’s proposal to set up a regional counter-intelligence centre in Johor equipped with radar surveillance and a missile system indicate that the country risks becoming subservient to Chinese interests.
“There are already many national assets that have been pawned away to China at present,” he said.
“We do not now want a situation where the country’s administration would have to abide by China’s directions in the future.
“Look at the experience of African nations that received gigantic investments and loans from China, and eventually had to comply with the demands that it made,” Salahuddin said in a statement today.
He said there was still time for Prime Minister Najib Razak to act appropriately in the matter for the interest of the people and the nation.
He said the government’s move to consider China’s latest proposal was worrying also because it would drag Malaysia into the “cauldron” of superpower conflict, as the United States and many other countries would be opposed to it.
He warned that the offer was China’s way of fortifying its presence in the region while it asserted its authority over the South China Sea, where it has been building and occupying artificial islands against international law.
“A report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) has stated that China has almost completed the construction of more than 20 buildings in seven reclaimed islands at locations that are disputed across the South China Sea.
“The artificial islands are equipped with defence systems, including anti-aircraft and anti-guided missile weapons, and long-distance missile launchers,” he said.
He said the government should not rush to a decision following the meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Najib during the latter’s visit to Beijing in November last year, where the offer from China for the setting up of the facilities in Johor was discussed.
“Asean countries need to continue remaining neutral,” Salahuddin said.
“Although Singapore and the Philippines are close friends of the US, what is most important to note is that no Asean nation has opened its borders for a defence base of this kind, belonging to a foreign power.”