Too long in the opposition, Anwar has lost touch with bilateral nuances

15 Apr 2023 11:00am
Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin. Photo: Sinar Harian / Mohd Halim Abdul Wahid
Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin. Photo: Sinar Harian / Mohd Halim Abdul Wahid

KUALA LUMPUR - Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin claims that the Prime Minister has lost his understanding of bilateral relations after spending almost 25 years in the opposition.

In a recent Fireside Chat interview with Sinar Daily, Hamzah stated, in 1998, Anwar left the government bloc and during his long tenure in opposition, he may have lost a considerable amount of understanding when it comes to bilateral relations.

He was commenting on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s controversial remark that Malaysia was willing to discuss on China-Malaysia claim of overlapping maritime borders in the South China Sea, which the latter has persistently refuted.

While pointing out that Anwar should not be giving wild statements that could result in misunderstanding between two countries, Hamzah advised the premier to always get his briefings from officers with expertise on bilateral relations and foreign policy.

"When it comes to bilateral relations, if you want to tell something, you must make sure you have a proper statement otherwise, you will create misunderstanding between two countries.

“He must get his briefing from ministry officers, not the minister because our Foreign Minister (Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir) is a just a new guy. He doesn’t understand bilateral relations,” said Hamzah.

Hamzah added that Anwar should not make such "wild remarks" just because China has expressed its interest to invest in Malaysia.

"An MOU (memorandum of understanding) will remain as an MOU it is until it finally materialised in the country.

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"You cannot say just because the other side has invested a lot of money, they can discuss matters such as this. Investments and claimants are two different things," he remarked.

The Larut MP reiterated that the sovereignty of the country must be defended.

China has maintained claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Previously, the Prime Minister said Beijing had expressed concern over Petronas’ activities in an area of the South China Sea which was being claimed by China.

Anwar had initially voiced out Beijing's concerns over Malaysia's national oil company, Petronas, exploration project which allegedly encroached China's maritime borders.

However, on Tuesday, Anwar sang a different tune, telling the Dewan Rakyat that Putrajaya believed Petronas' exploration was well within Malaysian waters.

Nontheless, he also said that Putrajaya was open to hold negotiations with Beijing “if China feels this is their right”.