Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ismail Sabri on South China Sea, Ukraine War, AUKUS, UN

China shouldn’t emulate Russia in South China Sea dispute, says PM

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says if the United Nations wants to be a body which represents all countries in the world, veto rights should be abolished. (Bernama pic)

TOKYO: China should not take any cues from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to attempt further advances in the disputed South China Sea, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob stressed in an exclusive interview.

“We hope China doesn’t take advantage of what is happening between Russia and Ukraine,” Ismail told Nikkei in his first interview with international media since he became prime minister last August.

“Not only China but all other major powers should not take advantage in the South China Sea.”

Although Ismail said Malaysia has not recently seen major intrusions in the waterway by the Chinese military, he stressed that the South China Sea must remain peaceful and that all parties should respect freedom of navigation.

Last October, the Malaysian foreign ministry summoned China’s ambassador in Kuala Lumpur over the presence of Chinese vessels, including a survey ship, in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone off the coast of its Bornean states.

At the time, the ministry said the ships not only failed to respect Malaysia’s sovereign rights and domestic laws but also breached the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The South China Sea is a critical channel for maritime trade, global shipping and fishing. Among Southeast Asian states, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines all have disputes over the channel with China, which claims most of it. International bodies insist the sea belongs to multiple claimants and that a code of conduct is needed to ensure peace and stability.

Philippine president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Thursday said he would fight for his country’s territorial rights in the South China Sea. This would be based on a 2016 decision by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which ruled that China’s historical claim to most of the South China Sea is without basis.

“We have a very important ruling in our favour and we will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights,” Marcos was quoted as saying. “It is not a claim. It is already our territorial right.”

Meanwhile, Ismail cautioned that Aukus – the trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US – risks escalating a regional arms race.

“That is worrying Malaysia,” he said, emphasising that his government rejects any alliances that share nuclear weapons or related technology.

“Although Aukus is not about nuclear power per se, but on nuclear-powered submarines, we are worried that some other major economies will take advantage of Aukus,” he said.

“For example, if China wants to help North Korea purchase nuclear-powered submarines, we can’t say no because Aukus has set a precedent.”

Earlier during a keynote speech at Nikkei’s Future of Asia conference, Ismail warned that supply chain problems as a result of the Ukraine war and US-China tensions are causing “negative ripple effects”. He urged countries to step up economic cooperation.

He stressed that the conflict in Europe is putting pressure on the global food supply, posing a threat, especially to developing nations. “While big companies and large powers are concerned about the supply of semiconductors,” he said, this is not the case “for the general people who are suffering” from rising costs and shortages of food and commodities “because of the lack of options”.

In the interview, he stressed that “the war in totality doesn’t benefit anyone or any country”.

“Although the war is in Ukraine, far from Malaysia, the victims are not only the Ukrainian people. Malaysia, which is not involved, is still affected economically,” he said.

At the same time, Ismail argued that war cannot be stopped by more war, while calling for reform at the United Nations.

“Supplying weapons to Ukraine to continue the war will not solve anything but (instead will) worsen the existing conditions,” he said. “This is not good for the world.”

UN should play a greater role, he continued. “But I assume UN’s powers are limited as long as the big powers have the veto rights to stop all efforts made to achieve a cease-fire and peace.

“We have been fighting for institutional reforms in the UN for a long time,” he said. “If they want to be a body which can represent all countries in the world, veto rights should be abolished.”


  1. Not Supplying weapons to Ukraine to defend itself will not solve anything, as it simply denies Ukraine the right to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Allowing the Barbaric Russian invasion to roll completely over Ukraine.
    Is Malaysia now promoting the principle that small countries have no right to ask for military aid to defend their independence In the face of Powerful neighbours ?
    Be careful, be very, very careful what you ask for...

    1. A small nation must & should know it's own relevancy in the world politics.
      Playing absolute neutrality is the only skill of survival in the complex geopolitical strategy.

  2. Yup, if Malaysia someday finds itself in a military conflict with a powerful neighbour , woe be Malaysia if the rest of the world says "Supplying weapons to Malaysia to continue its defence will not solve anything but (instead will) worsen the existing conditions..."

    1. Wakakakakaka…

      That's when Malaysia STUPID enough in someday finds itself in a military conflict with a powerful neighbour!

      When that time comes, m'sia deserve every consequences!

    2. Typical bullshit ideology.
      Anyone who lives in the real world knows that you may not be looking for trouble with anyone, but someone else may want a piece of your flesh.
      Easy to say Negotiate, but if the terms of the negotiation amount to total surrender, then it is an existential threat, and there is no choice but to defend yourself.

    3. Wakakakaka…

      "Typical bullshit ideology"


      Proved conclusively u know fart about laws of the jungle in real world geopolitics & strategy!

      Perhaps, it's revision time for yr f*cked bleeding-heartish chant in sounding yr hypocritical humanitarianism!

      Ooop… maybe in our fart filled world such typically bullshit ideology of real world DOESN'T exist.