PETALING JAYA – Former Malaysian premier Muhyiddin Yassin has slammed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s readiness to negotiate with China on state energy company Petronas’ exploration in the South China Sea, saying it undermines Malaysia’s territorial sovereignty.
“Petronas’ exploration activities are legally in Malaysian waters which should be defended and there is no question of negotiation and the Prime Minister’s statement indicates indirect recognition of China’s claim,” said Muhyiddin.
Giving Malaysian MPs an update on his recent trip to China, Datuk Seri Anwar said he told Beijing that an exploration project by Petronas in the South China Sea was within Malaysian waters, in a reference to an overlapping claim in the area by Beijing. But, Mr Anwar said, if China feels this is its right, Malaysia is open to negotiations.
Muhyiddin on Friday said it was a “careless” statement from a prime minister, and while China was a global power, there should be no compromise on Malaysia’s sovereignty.
“The country’s territorial sovereignty and national security should be protected at all times,” said Muhyiddin, who is chairman of the opposition Perikatan Nasional pact.
“Anwar’s statement sounded weak, irresponsible and was tantamount to surrendering Malaysia’s dignity and sovereignty to a foreign power.”
Muhyiddin added that Mr Anwar’s repeated statements on China claiming its military presence is in international waters further erode Malaysia’s territorial sovereignty.
“Asean members have yet to reach any consensus on the conflicting claims in the South China Sea and any overlapping claims must be in accordance with the group’s consensus and South China Sea Code of Conduct,” said Muhyiddin.
China claims its territory via a “nine-dash line” on its maps, which cuts into the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration, however, ruled in 2016 that the nine-dash line, which stretches as far as 1,500km off China’s coastline, has no legal basis.
Source : TheStraitsTimes