KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said that Malaysia's foreign policy is clear and consistent and continues to pursue an independent, principled and pragmatic foreign policy.
"The conduct of Malaysia's foreign policy will continue to be guided by the principles of respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non–interference in the affairs of other nations, peaceful settlement of disputes, peaceful co–existence and mutual benefit in relations," he said in a statement, today.
Anifah was rebutting several claims made by the Supreme Council Member, and the head of Policy and Strategy Bureau of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Rais Hussin, in an article entitled 'All The Glitters is Not Gold in US-Malaysia Relationship', published by a news portal last Friday.
Anifah's first point was in responding to Rais's claim that 'Malaysia has entered the orbit of Chinese influence both commercially and militarily and that on any given week, many illegal Chinese fishing vessels cruise along the coasts of West and East Malaysia'.
The Foreign Minister said as a small nation that relied heavily on international trade and as threats to peace and security became more complex, Malaysia had to have relations and work together with all countries in the world.
He also said that the increased economic and investment activities between Malaysia and China were the result of globalisation and the law of supply and demand.
"Likewise, increased activities in the sphere of security would include closer military cooperation, and were not a sign that Malaysia has entered the orbit of Chinese influence," he explained, adding that Malaysia has similar relations with many other countries including United States, Britain, Russia, France, Australia and Singapore.
He also pointed out that the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Malaysian Armed Forces conducted routine patrol and surveillance of maritime areas, and would arrest any fishing vessels that carried out illegal fishing.
Also, he mentioned that Chinese fishing vessels had been spotted only sporadically and not on a weekly basis.
Anifah's second point related to Rais's allegation that Anifah had allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Kota Kinabalu, with the most recent berthing taking place just before the meeting of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with President Donald Trump in the White House.
Rais also suggested that 'Malaysia was now a quasi-alliance of China that was willing to listen to Beijing at every turn' and questioned 'how the US-Malaysia relationship could serve as a building block of a stronger international maritime order'.
Anifah said it was true that Chinese warship and submarine made a port call at Kota Kinabalu early this month and that was not the first time that Chinese military vessels made a port call at Kota Kinabalu, and would not be the last.
He also said that military vessels from numerous countries including the US, Australia, Japan, France and others had made port calls to various Malaysian ports including at Kota Kinabalu and would continue to do so.
Therefore, he added, it was clearly a fallacy to equate the recent docking as a sign of Malaysia's quasi-alliance with China.
"Military vessels undertake port calls at foreign countries to replenish supply, provide shore leave to the crew, as well as to undertake minor maintenance, which also contributed to local economies," he explained.
Commenting on Rais's view that 'Malaysia did nothing monumental despite being the Chairman during Asean and East Asian Summit 2015' and 'couldn't contain the situation in the South China Sea and North Korea', and 'yet, 2015 was the year when China's militarisation on the South China Sea began in earnest'.
Anifah replied that Malaysia's Chairmanship of Asean in 2015 was well-regarded by many countries and its constructive approach on those issues was well-received.
He stated that Malaysia had done admirably in advancing discourse on these issues, taking into account that Asean worked on the principle of consensus, and as Chairman, Malaysia was merely a facilitator.