Minister of Defence Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s planned visit to the Layang Layang atolls tomorrow with Malaysian media for some ‘rest and recreation’ at the resort island had to be cancelled last minute. It was believed that Ambassador to the Peoples’ Republic of China handed a protest note to Wisma Putra for this visit.
Zahid’s visit was planned to expose Malaysian media on the beauty of one of regional’s most prized sport diving spot, along visitation to the Malaysian armed forces detachment stationed on the island. The island is part of Malaysian sovereignty.
It was believed that China was “Uneasy” with Defence Minister’s visit to the islands.
The visit, although organised by ATM and would be flown into the airstrip on TUDM’s C130Hs, is not military in nature. There is no military exercise will be conducted by any of ATM’s services in commemoration with this visit. Nor there will not be any armed military assets maneuvre planned in the area. Therefore, the protest from China should be considered as ‘diplomatically unbecoming’ to stop a Malaysian Cabinet Minister making a recreational trip to islands which are and had always been part of Malaysian sovereignty.
In short, this should be considered as a ‘diplomatic bully’.
Imagine, what would China’s reaction be had ATM do a major military exercise in the same area involving frigates, submarines, air superiority fighters and as a finale, half a battalion of armed paratroopers being dropped on the islands.