KOTA SAMARAHAN, Oct 13 – Malaysia does not recognise China’s claims in the South China Sea outlined by a unilaterally drawn ‘nine-dash line’ that includes almost the whole of Malaysia’s maritime areas off the coast of Sabah and Sarawak.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said China’s claims were inconsistent with international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).
“Malaysia believes that issues in the South China Sea are complex, multi-faceted and highly sensitive. Therefore, overlapping claims in the South China Sea should be addressed through peaceful means and in accordance with the relevant principles of international law as stipulated in UNCLOS 1982.
“Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China (China) have claimed maritime areas and features in the South China Sea which overlap with Malaysia’s claims off the coast of Sabah and Sarawak,” he said when delivering a talk on ‘Issues and Challenges in Managing Malaysia’s Foreign Relations’ at Detar Putra, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) yesterday.
With the aid of Powerpoint slides, he explained the overlapping claims in the South China Sea with Malaysia as one of the claimants.
He pointed out that any potential development which can undermine peace, security and stability will raise concerns and would naturally attract wide attention, and therefore, should be addressed peacefully and in a proactive, positive and constructive manner.
He also said Malaysia reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation in and flight over the South China Sea.
He emphasised the need for all parties to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC in its entirety, which amongst others cited the need to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and not resort to threats or use of force.
Some 1,500 people comprising mostly undergraduates and postgraduate students of Unimas attended the talk where issues discussed included implications from the rise of China and Malaysia’s relationship with the United States, Rohingya issue, counter terrorism, and diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Also discussed were tragedies involving MH370 and MH17, conflict between Palestine and Israel, the persistent claim on Sabah by the Philippines and the incursion in Lahad Datu, and overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
Anifah started his talk by talking about the history of Wisma Putra and Malaysia’s involvement in Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) and United Nations (UN) as well as other organisations.
He presides over 112 embassies, high commissions and consulates abroad.
“Malaysia is present in at least 85 countries and she plays host to 117 foreign missions. Wisma Putra is now staffed by approximately 1,385 staff both locally and abroad, and our presence is felt in the countries we are in as well as international organisations we are members of,” he said.
Unimas vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the university was honoured that Anifah had accepted their invitation to the talk which coincided with Unimas’ 25th jubilee celebration.
“The topic of the talk is not only relevant to our politics and International Relations students, but also to all of us who want a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing our country in the international arena,” he said.
Also present yesterday were Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ director-general of its Department of Policy Planning and Coordination, Bala Chandran Tharman; director-general of its Department of Maritime Affairs, Dr Azfar Mohamad Mustafar; and its Sarawak Region director Gloria Tiwet.
Unimas’ deputy dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Arnold Puyok acted as the moderator for the talk, which was followed by a question-and-answer session.