KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah conceded today that Malaysia needs more naval assets to face the “giants” involved in disputes over the South China Sea.
He said Malaysia has placed boats to safeguard its waters but they are “fewer and smaller in size” compared to those of other nations.
“Our warships are a lot smaller than those from China’s Coast Guard,” he told Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Bera-BN) in the Dewan Rakyat.
Ismail Sabri had said China was being aggressive and their “presence can be felt in the East Coast”.
“As the trade war between the US and China escalates, will the US keep quiet over the Chinese presence in the South China Sea? Are we prepared if there is any conflict?” he asked.
Saifuddin said Putrajaya has asked China and the US not to increase their warships in the region.
“Last year, Chinese and US warships were as near as 50km (from Malaysian territorial waters). This is not a small matter,” he said.
He said Malaysia wants to carry out closer monitoring “but we are limited due to the assets we have in the region”.
Replying to an additional question by Ronald Kiandee (PH-Beluran) on Asean’s stand on militarisation in the South China Sea, Saifuddin said: “We want to make sure there is peace in the region, respect for international law and for any conflict settled in peace.”