M'sia should consider strengthening its military and coastal guard to protect the nation's sovereignty
SHAH ALAM - Malaysia should consider strengthening its military and coast guard capabilities to protect our sovereignty, says experts.
Speaking to Sinar Daily, International Defence and Safety expert Professor Dr Adam Leong said Malaysia must fortify its naval, coast guard and air capabilities.
"Apart from using diplomatic channels and measures and subscribing to international law and United Nations for collective security, Malaysia should also consider strengthening its military and coast guard capabilities.
"The government should also give priority on asset acquisition for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) to strengthen, and modernise capabilities to patrol and protect our EEZs especially off Sarawak and Sabah waters," he said.
Adam further said funds should also be allocated to the Malaysian Army to build shore-based anti-ship warfare systems and coastal artillery.
"These capability-building efforts should start immediately as it takes anywhere between three to eight years to procure, build and test before new assets are ready for operations.
"The capability building and modernisation efforts are to support out deterrence strategy. Deterrence only works if the adversary chooses to be deterred," he added.
By building the capabilities to protect the maritime zone, Adam said it will demonstrate the nation's willpower to defend core national interests.
"It will also send strong signals that Malaysia will safeguard our national interests, whatever the costs," he reasoned.
On Monday, the Chinese Natural Resources Ministry issued the "China Standard Map Edition 2023”, which also covers the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) maritime areas of Malaysia near Sabah and Sarawak, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as several areas in India.
The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said Malaysia does not recognise China's claims in the South China Sea, and that the map holds no binding authority over Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir on Thursday said the government will send a protest note to China over the latter’s claims.
Commenting further, Associate Professor Dr Roy Anthony Rogers from Universiti Malaya said besides bilateral efforts Malaysia can voice it's concern through multilateral efforts such Asean Plus Three which China is a member of and the United Nations.
"Malaysia has made our stand clear that we will protect our sovereignty through Diplomatic negotiations based on the International Law and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 which both countries (Malaysia and China are signatories).
"Malaysia-China has established diplomatic relations for almost five decades (next year will be the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China relations)
"I believe the differences should be resolved through a peaceful manner. At the same time China also needs to cherish bilateral relations between KL and Beijing," he said.
When asked on whether Malaysian military should strengthen themselves, Roy said it is always good to negotiate based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
"The armed forces are always on alert and ready to defend the country.
"However, any armed conflict or military alliances with other major powers will further escalate tension in the region.
"Therefore the best option is still through peaceful negotiation based on the UNCLOS 1982," he said.