KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysia takes constructive measures and uses diplomatic channels in line with international law to defend its territorial claims, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
Hence, the country has consistently submitted protest notes to countries whose vessels were discovered to have encroached into national waters.
“In fact within these few months, I have spoken to the leaders of the countries involved in territorial claims in the South China Sea that all quarters should cooperate to avoid any incident, unintended or otherwise.
“Conflicts will only increase tensions which in turn will threaten peace, security and stability in the South China Sea. Therefore, differences and disputes should be resolved through dialogues, negotiations or more appropriately, through diplomacy,” he said during the question-and-answer session in Parliament today.
He was replying to an original question from Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) who wanted to know the government’s efforts to expel a Chinese Coast Guard vessel anchored in Malaysia’s waters at Luconia Shoals (Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali).
At the same time, he said that ASEAN countries, including Malaysia, and China have been involved in talks over the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, although discussions are currently postponed due to COVID-19.
He said, the COC is an effort to ensure parties involved in the claims over the South China Sea avoid conflicts, and Malaysia would ensure that the finalised COC is effective in ensuring the country’s sovereignty and its rights are safeguarded.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said that apart from surveillance activities at Beting Patinggi Ali, the government has also implemented the operations codenamed ‘Op Naga’ by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) as well as monitoring by the Royal Malaysian Navy in the South China Sea.
He said MMEA had conducted 5,538 inspections on various vessels through ‘Op Naga’ starting in 2019 until now and of that number, 121 foreign fishing boats had been detained for committing various offences.
“The South China Sea issue is delicate and involves other parties including overlapping claims from other ASEAN countries such as Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“On that basis, Malaysia will consistently defend our rights to claim, while exercising a cautious approach to avoid actions that will cause tensions or escalate the situation,” he said.
Hishamuddin also said that Malaysia, via a note verbale to the United Nations (UN), rejected China’s claims to historic rights in the South China Sea.
“The Malaysian government is also of the view that the claim of the People’s Republic of China against maritime entities in the South China Sea has no basis under international law,” he said.
China made the claims in a note verbale to the UN dated Dec 12, 2019.