Malaysia was of the position that the Australia-UK-US (Aukus) deal might be a catalyst to a regional arms race.
“It may also provoke other powers to be more aggressive in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The PMO said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had informed his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, of Malaysia’s position during a telephone call yesterday.
The PMO said Malaysia held to the Asean declaration in 1971 that the region was to be a Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality (Zopfan).
Aukus was concluded yesterday and will see the three countries exchanging technology and intelligence.
However, the most important part of the deal involved the UK and US arming Australia with the means to produce nuclear-powered attack submarines.
Following in Najib’s path (of turning a blind eye to China’s incursion into Malaysia’s territorial waters) the new PM Ismail Sabri is proving himself to be in the same mould as his party predecessor when it comes to handling foreign affairs.
He has even re-appointed Najib’s cousin Hishamuddin Hussein back into the job of Defence Minister to restore a relationship that bailed out the 1MDB imbroglio and kept quiet in the face of insult followed by insult to Malaysia’s independence.
After all cash is cash and China is generous to decision makers in strategic places. One can always leave one’s country and live in Dubai if you’ve sold it down the river.
As for Australia’s controversial choice of submarine defences to counter militarisation in the region. Malaysia can certainly testify to the effectiveness of the French variety in NOT escalating any arms race.
Hishamuddin’s arsenal of Scorpenes can’t even leave port above the water let alone below it. according to general perceptions. No one need feel threatened into buying so much as a water pistol to fend off those multi-billion ringgit toys. Meanwhile, the kickbacks on that deal to Najib and his allies are well-documented in the French courts themselves.
Whether this laughable defence will ‘keep the peace’ for Malaysia, rather than laying it open for a peaceful takeover, is another matter.
Australia is entitled to see things differently and to decide to defend itself with submarines that can be relied upon to do a proper job of it.