Saturday, April 07, 2018

Naval crisy rendang?

In Malaysiakini's GE14: What will China do?, regular columnist Denis Ignatius stated that (extracts):

Malaysia has also given China access to its naval bases, including the submarine base at Sepanggar. Favourable access to ports along the crucial Malacca Straits has always been a strategic objective of China as it seeks to project its naval power into the Indian Ocean and beyond.

I think Denis might have gone too far in his allegations about China using Malaysian naval bases.

News media The Diplomat in its article on same subject but titled Why Did China's Navy Gain Use of a Malaysia Port Near the South China Sea? dated Nov 2015 stated 'The recent move needs to be put in proper perspective.'

Prashant Parameswaran the author of article wrote:

Few specifics have been made publicly available about the pact itself. But Malaysian media reports indicate that an agreement was made by the two sides to give China stopover access to the port of Kota Kinabalu to strengthen defense ties between both countries.

First, it is important to stress that this kind of port access is a pretty routine affair. In general, allowing a ship to dock at a port for a break to load or unload, obtain supplies, or undergo repairs is a fairly standard process.

The idea of Chinese ships at Kota Kinabalu is also not new. Back in August 2013, the Zhenghe, a PLAN training vessel, had already docked at the harbor in Kota Kinabalu to begin a five-day goodwill visit to the country. So, if anything, the agreement represents the formalization of access rather than some sort of groundbreaking entry.

Second, such port access is not equivalent to basing rights, contrary to what some reports have suggested.

An access agreement would allow the Chinese navy to dock for a break in Kota Kinabalu for the various reasons cited above – nothing more. Equating this as part of some Chinese ‘basing strategy’ is rather dubious.

In addition to being out of step with Malaysian foreign policy which avoids too close of an alignment with any major power, it would also be a tad bit strange to allow a foreign country who has outstanding disputes with Malaysia to have a base there since Kota Kinabalu also houses Malaysia’s regional naval headquarters and the country’s submarine base (See: “Malaysia Eyes Submarine Base Expansion Near South China Sea”).

Third, this port access is not something that has only been given to China. As Abdul Aziz, the then-Malaysian naval chief, emphasized to Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama, a number of other countries including the United States and France have already previously docked in the Malaysian port.

In fact, before conducting the recent U.S. freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s controversial man-made islands in the South China Sea on October 27, the USS Lassen had docked in Kota Kinabalu for a regular port visit on October 19 after a routine South China Sea patrol.

How, then, should we read Malaysia’s granting of port access to China? According to Abdul Aziz himself, the move was part of a broader effort to enhance defense relations between the two countries’ navies to “overcome problems and issues relating to overlapping border claims.” He was no doubt referring to the South China Sea disputes, in which both China and Malaysia are claimants.

His comments are consistent with Malaysia’s broader approach to China and the South China Sea, which I have explored in detail previously (See: “Malaysia’s South China Sea Approach: Playing it Safe”).

Despite bolder and more frequent Chinese incursions into its waters and some adjustments, Malaysia is determined to manage the South China Sea dispute while keeping its overall relationship with China intact, including in the defense realm (See: “How is Malaysia Responding to China’s South China Sea Intrusion?”).

Just last year, Malaysia and China carried out their first ever joint military exercise (See: “Malaysia, China Begin First Joint Military Exercise”). That was expanded significantly this year (See: “China, Malaysia to Hold First Ever Joint Live Troop Exercise”).

In that vein, the aim of granting port access to countries including China, a Malaysian official familiar with the matter told The Diplomat, is meant to function more as a confidence-building measure amid outstanding disputes. Abdul Aziz himself spelled out how this might work, noting that allowing Beijing such access would also provide an opportunity to learn from Chinese methods of operation and about Chinese submarines that could be docking there.

This, he said, was in line with the government’s aspiration to adopt the best solution to secure peace and security in the South China Sea. While one might not be convinced about the wisdom of such an approach, it is nonetheless one Malaysia has chosen to adopt.

As for Denis Ignatius' allegations about China's access to Malaysian ports along the Malacca Straits, let's review what was written in Singapore's The Starits Times. An extract of its article Malacca harbour plan raises questions about China's strategic aims published on 14 Nov 2016 follows:

An artist's impression of the Melaka Gateway joint venture, which is part of a wider port alliance between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to increase bilateral trade and boost shipping and logistics along China's Maritime Silk Road.PHOTO: MELAKA GATEWAY

A RM43 billion (S$14 billion) harbour being developed in Malacca aims to overtake Singapore as the largest port in the region, but questions are being raised about the need for the added capacity and whether China's eager participation has to do with good business or its crucial strategic interests in the Malacca Strait.

For China, not only does most of its trade pass through the Malacca Strait, but so does up to 80 per cent of its energy needs. This prompted then President Hu Jintao to make the "Malacca Dilemma" a key strategic issue as far back as 2003.

"There is the strategic element of the Malacca Strait. It always starts with an economic presence, which can develop into a naval one, because China will be obliged to ensure the safe passage of its commercial ships," said Dr Johan Saravanamuttu of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, who studies the Malaysia-China relationship.

The Melaka Gateway joint venture is part of a wider port alliance between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to increase bilateral trade and boost shipping and logistics along China's much-vaunted Maritime Silk Road.

Chinese firm Guangxi Beibu International Port Group already owns 40 per cent of Kuantan port, which faces the disputed waters of the South China Sea, and 49 per cent of the Kuantan Industrial Park in Pahang, the home state of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Malaysian authorities are talking up the game-changing Melaka Gateway deal between little-known KAJ Developments and energy giant PowerChina International, which will form a joint venture and spend RM30 billion to reclaim three islands off Malacca's coast. The entire Gateway development will be completed in 2025 but the deep-sea port is expected to be ready by 2019. The Malaysian government hopes to attract the bulk of 100,000 vessels, most of them Chinese, that ply the Malacca Strait annually.

Some industry players have expressed concern about the cannibalising of existing ports along the strait, especially in the light of Singapore's own port expansion.

I believe in matters raised by the article we have to factor in Singapore's own interests as it sees the development of such a port as its future competitor - note last paragraph above which pointed out ... especially in the light of Singapore's own port expansion.

But let's get down to brass tacks. Porting at a civilian port like KK or the futuristic Melaka port is hardly giving China access to RMN naval bases.

Malaysia has long already provided such access to other navies eg. visit by USN aircraft carriers to Port Klang like USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) aircraft carrier in Oct 2010 and USS George Washington (CVN 73) in Oct 2012, and on the other side of the 'pond' in KK by guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) on 21 Feb 2018, just more than a month ago.

USS Abraham Lincoln 

USS George Washington 

USS Wayne E. Meyer

Now, did those visits by USN naval war ships constitute Malaysia giving the USA access to our naval basesPerhaps Denis Ignatius can provide his opinion on our strategic-military allegiance vis-a-vis the USA, China and maybe even Japan and Russia? And please don't omit our relationship with the Austrian (not Australian) navy.

Perhaps he can also reveal his source of reliable information on such an important strategic-military-national security-international-political issue as giving China access to our naval bases, otherwise I would have to treat it as speculative scare-mongering or in today's parlance, another 'crispy rendang' (or if you like, GST-ed kerang and kembong), wakakaka.

hoe liao man 


  1. Heck, even Russian warships have made stops in our ports before. What nonsense this Denis is talking about?

    If he gets this paranoid seeing foreign warships making port in KK once in a while, he will definitely get a heart attack seeing them every so often stopping by at Penang Port. They love to dock there.

  2. Paying tribute like the old days during the Malaccan Sultanate?

  3. Malaysia's defence relationship with the USA goes back to 1957. Back when we were in deep security trouble fro communists. It is a long and close one though there is no formal treaty.
    Generations of Malaysian officers have trained with American Army , Air Force and Navy. And many arms purchases with the US.

    So the port access agreement with the US Navy is long-standing and not unusual.

    The port access agreement with the PLA Navy IS unusual. Not that long ago China , in defence matters, was kept at arms length.
    It is part of the Najib Administration's "pivot" to China after the Malaysian Official 1 Kleptocracy case.

    Malacca has not been an important port for more than 300 years, and I am doubtful the port project's commercial viability.

    China is not looking at the Malacca port project on normal commercial terms, it is a strategic foothold, and that is why I am very uncomfortable about the long term implications.

    1. Malaysian military uses arms from various countries, not just the USA.

      Malaysia uses a plethora of armaments from around the world such as (just some examples):

      Sukhoi 30MKM and MIG-29 from Russia. Then Malaysians were divided into two groups on purchases of military planes from Russia: those who supported the then-PM on his "wise lateral thinking" on alternative sourcing of arms from the Eastern Bloc, and those who kept their mouth wisely shut for fear of being ‘Lalang-rised’

      F-18, F5E II, C130H and BBJ1 plus various light aircraft types from USA,

      Aermacchi MB-339 and Laksamana class corvettes from Italy,

      Alouette IIIs, Scorpene submarines, Euro EC helicopters and Dassault Falcon 900 from France,

      CN-235 from Spain/Indonesia,

      Hawk advanced trainers and Lekiu class frigates from Britain,

      PC-7 from Switzerland,

      Rifles from Germany and Belgium,

      Airbus A400M from EU consortium,

      Armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) from Turkey, Poland, Britain, Germany, South Korea, Belgium, etc,

      Artillery from Brazil, USA, South Africa, Italy, etc,

      ... and the list goes on and on.

      So who have we sold our country’s defence to?

    2. Wakakakaka……

      "So who have we sold our country’s defence to?"

      To the one who r willing to line the pockets of pinklips!

      Especially, the French!

      U ada baca sejarah pembelian tentera AUDM!

      Or yr uncles didn't enlighten u betul2 ke?

  4. Foreign military vessels paying a stopover at any port of any country IS nothing special.

    DON'T read too much into them.

    But providing 'other' facilities to the US warships, like the RedDot at the Changi naval base, r going beyond normal maritime protocol visits. Ditto with the old Changi airbase for the US airforces!

    This is the 'ultimate betrayals' that rattle the mood of the Chinese, especially with the closing of the US military facilities in Subic Bay & Clark Air Base in the Philippines in 1991.

    By closely cooperating with the US in military operations, the young Lee is considered a 白眼狼 (someone who forget how to repay kindness), unlike his more farsighted father, in the eyes of the Chinese leadership.

    The Strait of Malacca IS currently very vital to the energy supply of Chinese.

    During a war conflict, the US, with the help of the RedDot, can easily cutoff the energy supply chain of the Chinese.

    Thus, knowing the thinkings of LHL, (nobody could ever realise that these r the actual facts that cause the current Lee siblings feud, despite the superficial house heirloom usage), the Chinese has to establish alternative routes that can bypassing S'pore.

    The oil and natural gas pipelines linking Myanmar's deep-water port of Kyaukphyu (Sittwe) in the Bay of Bengal with Kunming in Yunnan province of China is one.

    Similarly the Isthmus of Kra canal in Thailand is another consideration.

    However, with the successful extraction of the 可燃冰(methane hydrate) in the South China Sea by the Chinese O&G exploration team, the Chinese military vitality of the Malacca Strait has changed. It becomes a lesser consideration than the strengthening of those islets/shoals within the Nine Dotted Lines as military outposts for her Navy & Airforces

    South China Sea will be a new flashing point after the N/S Korea peninsula.

    Let just hope that those leaders, around the region, can be moronic(pinklips???), farsighted(duterte!!), cunning(LHL?!?), Smart(tiw, wakakakaka) to be pawns of the in fighting powers!

    1. This I agree with you.

      Singapore's wellbeing depended on the movement of commerce and energy thru the Straits and they will do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, at all cost to protect that interest.
      Why do you think they actively supported the Yellow movements in Thailand (who were opposing Kra Canal), and Malaysia (who were opposing ECRL)?

      These 2 these projects were coincidentally, would be funded by the Chinese and EITHER of them would spell the end of Singapore's trade supremacy in this region.

      With Thaksin no longer in power, its left Najib to fight against Singapore's hegemony.

    2. najib is the smart n farsighted one bec he know when to kiss ccp ass.

    3. How does inviting the People's Liberation Army Navy to use Malaysia's TLDM Naval Base ( checked out as true fact ) amount to fighting Singapore hegemony ?

    4. Wakakakaka……

      Now u turn Jibby ass-licker!

      "najib is the smart n farsighted one bec he know when to kiss ccp ass."

      He tried hard with the current POTUS' ass, but was cold shouldered (as proved in the 2017 Asean Summit in Manila, Philippines).

      A twitter bird chirpes quite recently about pinklips official invitation to President Xijinpeng to visit M'sia was turned down. Xi just doesn't want to be used by pinklips in a move similar to his old man's China play in helping him to entice the Cinapeks' votes in ge14¡

      Pinklips is looking forward to a retirement in khazaKazak if not in bamboo villa.

    5. @Monsterball.
      None. I was replying to CK on Singapore's vital role in the flow of commerce and energy to & fro China, and what they will do to ensure their hegemony in that role continues. Regime change is one of them.

      As for usage of TLDM naval base, the news you shared mentioned of submarines berthing and logically they would use naval docks in view of security and to prevent snooping on their vessels. Docked subs are normally surfaced and much intel about its capability can be gathered by viewing it from a open-to-all civilian dockside, especially by a foreign spook with spook-grade hi res camera. Even when in Singapore, US subs always berth at secluded docks with the highest security. This is normal.

  5. France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Turkey, South Korea...the pattern is they are all members of the Western Alliance.

    While Malaysia correctly stayed out of military treaty relationships with the West, there is no doubt ( in the past ) where it's security interests lie.

    Russia makes some of best fighter aircraft in the World....

    Defence links with the PLA ARE unusual and out of past patterns.

    1. wakakaka, are you what CK called a "wordsmith"? wakakaka again

    2. Wakakakaka?………

      What "Defence links with the PLA ARE unusual and out of past patterns." U talking about?

      R the PLA planes, utilising the bolihland's airbases in ANY significant manner vis-a-vis the US with the Changi airbase?

      An espionage fiction writer, more likely than wordsmith who plays with word usage.

    3. United States does not claim any Malaysian soil or seas. I have no qualms about USAF aircraft flying out of Changi.

      China claims Malaysian soil and sea. China is not an enemy, but the PLA is NOT a friend.

    4. China claimed Malaysian soil?? When and where?

      Singularly the USA invades far more countries than China and also occupies them for oil, minerals and strategic locations


      China claims all seas and land within the Nine-Dash line.

      That includes James Shoal, Luconia Reefs and Pulau Layang-Layang.

    6. not just China but many others, eg. Philippines, Vietnam

    7. Among the claimants, Only China has the military might to actually make it a reality, which makes the PLA a credible threat.

    8. U need to polish up yr espionage fiction writing skill!

      Allowing military vessels, warships & submarines to dock at a port IS totally difference from what the Singies allow the Yanks to used her military facilities.

      Based on yr 'territory claimant story', so u allow US to start a war with the Chinese at yr doorstep?

      Yr paranoid is in the same class as that of that lyt-ised wumao le!

    9. It is a PROVEN FACT that Malaysia has allowed the PLA Navy to use Malaysia TLDM military facilities.

  6. Ktemoc, you owe Ambassador (Rtd.) Denis Ignatious an apology for accusing him of publishing fake news.

    Official TLDM tweeter account..

    PLA Navy Attack Submarine and Submarine tender berths at TLDM Naval Base in Sabah (NOT Civilian port such as Port Klang or Penang) .

    US Navy e.g. Aircraft carriers and destroyers so far only make civilian port visits in Malaysia.

    1. Is Ktemoc going to man-up and admit his entire post is a sneering fake news ?

  7. Singapore has a close warfare and defence relationship with the US. US Naval combat ships have been deployed in Singapore. China is taking the opportunity to strengthen its position (economic and maritime) through its One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative in this region. But why not? It is a check and balance situation.

    1. You know what happen to sukarno when he tried to do the same thing