By Tariq Ismail

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The Foreign Affairs Bureau of Parti Pejuang is deeply concerned with the provocative strategic military trilateral pact between the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia (AUKUS).

The AUD 90 billion nuclear powered-submarine programme under the auspices of “help sustain peace and stability in the Indo Pacific Region” will raise the temperature in the deeply contested South China Sea and lead to an arms race.

In addition, it imposes nuclearisation on the Pacific and makes nuclear energy propagation for military purposes skim the line on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, blatantly laughing in the face of UN resolutions against it.

We implore and call upon the Minister of Defence YB Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to present to Parliament on Malaysia’s position in light of AUKUS.

The Minister of Defence, as a matter of urgency, must engage his Australian and British Counterparts and obtain the assurance that Malaysia’s and South East Asia’s sovereignty and security will not be threatened by AUKUS.

Furthermore, the Foreign Affairs Bureau urges the Foreign Affairs Minister YB Dato Saifuddin Abdullah to call upon ASEAN members and reaffirm to China, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia that the South China Sea is a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality.

The Foreign Affairs Bureau of Parti Pejuang would also like to suggest to both the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister the following:

A. In line with the underlying principles of UNCLOS and ZOPFAN, the policing of the South China Sea must be strictly by members of ASEAN and exceptions only after the collective agreement of ASEAN members. This is to reduce the need for any one nation to act unilaterally in the spirit of Freedom of Navigation and its operations by establishing a similar mechanism to “preserve for all States the legal balance of interests established in customary international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.”

B. In addition, while nuclear powered military vessels may be allowed to pass through the South China Sea (subject to agreed restrictions as per customary law), military exercises involving nuclear powered vessels should be strictly prohibited within waters of the South China Sea including in innocent waters,

C. Malaysia and ASEAN must draw a common security framework with ASEAN Plus members including the EU, China, Russia and India to preserve the sovereignty of South East Asia specifically and the Indo-Pacific region in general to counter-balance acts of aggressions from any party,

D. Engage with Australia with regards to its eventual foray into production of nuclear energy for military purposes which it must do to enable use of the submarines.

*Tariq Ismail Mustafa heads Pejuang's Foreign Affairs Bureau*