PETALING JAYA: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pix) told the 3rd US – Asean Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting to stop sending more troops to the South China Sea.
Hishammuddin said Malaysia’s position remains consistent; where everyone must adhere to the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) and ensure an expeditious establishment of an effective Code of Conduct (COC), which includes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Maritime security was also one of the key highlights of the meeting. I took this opportunity to convey my personal stand on the South China Sea which is that we must avoid any unexpected and unintended incidents at sea or over air at all costs.
“These waters are a thriving trade channel that is vital to many economies in Asean, the region and countries around the world and should remain free and open, safe and commercially pliable,” Hishammuddin said in a statement after the end of the 3rd US – Asean Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting which was held in Hawaii.
The dispute on the 3 million sq km of water has raised fears of military confrontation between the world’s superpowers, with China determined to cement control of the strategically vital waters despite a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague which ruled in July that China has no historic rights to resources in sea areas falling within the so-called “nine-dash-line”.
But Beijing ignored the ruling, and continued with its reclamation activities which resulted in the US military sending warships and planes close to a new island which was built by China.
Hishammuddin also emphasised on the need to step up the efforts on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and the integration of inter-states and inter-agencies in the Asean Militaries Ready Group (AMRG) as an effort in responding to security challenges in the region.
He said Malaysia views the meeting as a positive development in US-Asean relations as it reflects their attention and concern with regards to the region.