Dirgahayu, TLDM

In the current flavour of the 26th ASEAN Summit now in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi where Malaysia is chairing, the world should be reminded that the Royal Malaysian Navy celebrates its 81st anniversary today.

It was formed as Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve and it has grown so far ever since. RMN is now a formidable and respectable naval force in region, especially after acquiring submarine force capability and assets since 2009.

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Malaysia is a maritime nation. 30% of the nation’s food resource and over 90% of the trade requires safe passageway in the open seas.

Coupled with the fact that the world’s second most busiest maritime passageway, the Straits of Melaka and South China Sea are part of the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined under United Nation Conference Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), arisen the requirement for a strong naval and maritime force.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

It is imperative that a seemingly formidable naval and maritime force exist to police and serve the security and defense requirements and obligation, to maintain the safe passageway as well as sovereignty and the defence of the realm.

In the complexity of modern day hybrid of economic, political and even military projection of power and eventually control and dominance, Malaysia too must keep herself abreast with all these developments. Needless to say, makes the necessary preparations and upgrade existing capability and role and positioning.

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China should back off from its aggressive maneuvers in South China Sea and stick to commitment of the Document of Conduct (DOC)  signed with ASEAN in November 2002, which agreed to resolve issues which include multiple claims on disputed territories via multilateral discourses based on United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) dated 1982.

The fact is that many are watching all the military manoeuvres by PLAN and tough diplomatic warnings, China is out to set ‘De Facto Control’ in the South China Sea.

The Wall Street Journal story:

China Set to Consolidate ‘De Facto Control’ of South China Sea, Philippine Official Says

By JASON NG and BEN OTTO

April 26, 2015 6:39 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines cautioned Sunday that China will likely continue reclamation work in the South China Sea and called on Southeast Asian nations to confront the issue before their much-larger neighbor extends its influence over the contested waters.

Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea. In recent months, China has been expanding two islands it controls and began construction of seven new islets in the sea under its reclamation program.

China is “poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario told his counterparts during a meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The implications, he said, are “urgent and far-reaching, going beyond the region to encompass the global community.”

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Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei—all members of Asean—lay claim to part of the sea. Asean members and China signed a nonbinding pact in 2002 to refrain from actions in the disputed region such as building on islets. That pact was to lead to a legally binding code of conduct in the region, which remains pending.

The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of breaking the deal through its recent activities, while China says it is entitled to undertake construction projects within its own sovereign territory. Manila has long led the charge against China in the disputed waters, last year warning Asean members that Chinese reclamation threatened to militarize the region and filing a complaint at the United Nations.

Mr. Del Rosario warned that if China successfully completes its reclamation work before signing the binding code—“which is likely to happen”—any eventual agreement would have the effect of “legitimizing China’s reclamation.”

“Asean should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity,” Mr. Del Rosario stressed. “Asean must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

Chinese officials didn’t immediately comment publicly on Mr. Del Rosario’s remarks.

Write to Jason Ng at jason.ng@wsj.com and Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

**********************

It is a very important ingredient to maintain sovereignty, safe passageway for maritime and economic purposes, serve the extension of foreign and other policy and above all, maintain neutrality.

The progression of China’s attitude of territorial expansion and imperialism, especially in the unsubstantiated claims of the Nine-Dash-Line is a growingly thorny and worrying issue to ASEAN nations. One of hand China wants to be ‘friendly’ with ASEAN but the aggressiveness and  actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy points the other way.

The Code of Conduct

The signatories of the Document  of Conduct

Despite being signatory to the Declaration of Conduct in November 2002 with ASEAN, China has demonstrated her unwillingness to progress further to ensure that Conduct of Conduct (COC) is complied but intead stubbornness to adhere.

Almost a year ago, ASEAN through its Secretary General made the call that “China should exit the ‘Disputed Waters’ , which will conducive to restore confidence in the talks to resolve the multiple0claims by others”.

It is necessary that the desire which has since been translated into wrongful (as per defined by UNCLOS) occupation should be impeded from further progression.

Associated Press story:

Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China’s land reclamation in South China Sea

Published April 26, 2015 Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Philippines on Sunday urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take “de facto control” of the area.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers that if China’s construction of artificial islands on reefs claimed by other countries is allowed to be completed, then Beijing will impose its claim over more than 85 percent of the sea.

Rosario urged the grouping to “stand up” to China by urging it to halt its reclamation work.

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

ASEAN has maintained a cautious stand in the dispute to avoid angering China, a key trading partner.

Rosario said the reclamation threatened to militarize the region, infringe on rights of other states and damage the marine environment.

He warned that China, which has been dragging its foot on ASEAN’s push for a binding code of conduct governing behavior in the sea, will aim to complete its reclamation activities before it agrees to conclude the code.

If this happens, he said that the code will legitimize China’s reclamation.

“The threats posed by these massive reclamations are real and cannot be ignored or denied,” he said. “ASEAN should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity. ASEAN must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

The Philippines filed a case with an international arbitration tribunal in 2013 challenging China’s claim.

Beijing has defended the reclamation, saying it is Chinese territory and the structures are for public service use and to support Chinese fishermen.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Friday that ASEAN leaders are expected to raise concerns over Chinese land reclamation at their two-day summit starting Monday and will seek to speed up plans for the code of conduct with China.

*****************

Atolls and reefs within the Nine-Dash-Line that China illegally occupy or for lack of better words, invaded, have since witness the rapid reclamation exercise and construction for bigger permanent facilities such as an airstrip.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly story:

China starts work on Mischief Reef land reclamation

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

James Hardy, London and Sean O’Connor, Indianapolis, IN – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
11 March 2015

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)
China has begun to create land on Mischief Reef in Beijing’s latest move to firm up its South China Sea claims.

IHS Maritime identified the dredger as Tian Kai , a trailing suction hopper dredger operated by CCCC Tianjin Dredging Co Ltd that was in the area from 14 January to 16 February.

The Airbus imagery shows Tian Kai dredging a channel close to one of China’s existing platforms in the reef, and depositing the spoil on the reef to create a landmass.

China’s existing presence on Mischief Reef consisted of two small concrete platforms that included buildings and shelters for fishermen.

Other data from IHS Maritime suggests that China is deploying its latest China Coast Guard (CCG) offshore patrol vessels to monitor potential outside interest in the dredging activities. AISLive data showed that Haijing 3307 , a 3000-tonne OPV fitted with water cannon and capable of embarking a helicopter, patrolled an area to the southeast of Mischief Reef from 5 to 24 January and again from 12 to 27 February.

Chinese media have also released satellite images suggesting China is beginning to create a landmass at Subi Reef, which is about 25 km southwest of the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island: Manila’s only Spratly island to have an airstrip. China’s presence on Subi Reef previously consisted of a concrete platform that included buildings, a helipad, and geodesic dome probably fitted with communications equipment.

Meanwhile, Beijing has reacted strongly to comments by the Vietnamese head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in which he rejected China’s ‘dashed-line claim’ to the South China Sea.

ASEAN secretary general Le Luong Minh told Philippine reporters in Jakarta on 4 March that all ASEAN claimants opposed the dotted line concept because it did not accord with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and because the dotted line covered “90% of the South China Sea”.

“There is no way it can be accepted by any party to UNCLOS,” Le said.

Le described China’s land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands as potentially dangerous as they were changing “the status quo”.

“The expansion and illegal [occupation] of islands affect the status quo and [they are] complicating the situation,” he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded on 11 March by saying that ASEAN was not a party to the South China Sea dispute and that Le “has many times made partisan statements that do not accord with the facts nor suit his position” as ASEAN secretary general.

“This is a serious deviation from the neutral position ASEAN and its secretary general ought to have on the relevant issue, and damages the image of ASEAN as a regional international organisation,” Hong added.

*************

It is considerably unlikely that China would bow to diplomatic pressure and response positively, despite the steady growth of trade between the ambitious neo-pesudo Super Power and ASEAN. A good example is that being a signatory of DOC, China refuse to resolve the Scarborough Shoals issues with the Philippines at the International Court of Justice.

The only way to check on PLAN for further illegal intrusion and possession on atolls and reefs especially in disputed multiple-claims territory such as the Spratlys and most of South China Sea under the unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line is to have a formidable naval force.

Hence, the Royal Malaysian Navy must be expanded in its role and capability in the soonest and shortest time to ensure that it serves the obligation to provide defence of Malaysia’s EEZ on top of its new role as the ‘extension of Malaysia’s foreign policy’.

Published in: on April 27, 2015 at 01:30  Comments (14)  

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  1. China’s actions show its adoption of the maxim of ‘ Occupation is 99% ownership’. Who dares bell the cat, especially a cat made in China where the colour is not important as long as it is a mouse catcher. ASEAN Code of Conduct ( COC) on South China Sea (SCS) is a good move and a way forward at conflict resolution but will China honour the COC? Maybe. After it has de facto occupation of the geographical features in the SCS. By then would China care what others say? And with its excellent air and naval powers, who dares look at the cat straight in the eye? The US? It will be a battle of hegemony and influence in. our own backyard.

  2. I waited hours before writing this comment, to ensure that my emotions against China’s attitude won’t spill rude and vulgar words against them here.

    Saying that ASEAN was not a party to the South China Sea dispute and that Le ‘has many times made partisan statements that do not accord with the facts nor suit his position’ as ASEAN secretary general, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman is behaving like the DAP. No doubt, it’s the same Cina Bukit mentality.

    Instead of trying to justify their stand (if at all justifiable) or making atonement for their unilateral action, they criticize others. These are the kind who don’t respect laws. Yet they are one of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. What the ….

    It’s utter nonsense to say “This is a serious deviation from the neutral position ASEAN .. and damages the image of ASEAN as a regional international organisation,” As if their act in the Soith China Seas is not a serious deviation from the norms of international behaviour. It’s bullying.

    As if their action doesn’t damage the image of China. But they won’t bother one bit – they have a historically damaged image since the time they called themselves “the Middle Kingdom” and said all others outside were barbaric and uncivilized. It took History Professor Wang Gung Wu, formerly of University Malaya and now in Singapore, to say in his essays on the Ming Dynasty that the Chinese realized it was not so only when they came into contact with others – who, especially as proven under the communist Mao Zedong until the 1960s, were much more civilized than them.

  3. I support the call for for a strong naval and maritime force for Malaysia. We must acquire capability to the extent of holding on our own in the event of an armed conflict until international help arrives.

    No doubt, the US has assets stationed in the Clarke Air Base and Subic Naval Base in the Philippines that they abandoned decades ago but they brought back to their standards a few years ago, and their aircraft carriers presumably ply the South and East China Seas in line with their defence agreements with Japan and the Philippines. But we must have a formidable naval and maritime force of our own as we have vast seas to patrol and defend.

    But with China’s misbehaviour and evil intentions in the South China Sea, there must be concerted action among countries in the region. ASEAN must be persuaded to take a common and united stand on the matter. I don’t understand why and how such a stand would allegedly hamper trade with China much and welcome arguments on that here.

    We are living in unnerving times these days, so many hotspots around the world. Our traditional military link, UK, has been scaling down their military strength, and their retired generals, air force and naval chiefs (the ones who can speak up) have been exasperated over the matter. British deployment of their naval assets worldwide may not enable a quick response to any flare up in the South China Seas. This certainly speaks for Malaysia having its own formidable naval and maritime strength to ward off the “invaders” before help arrives.

  4. “(On one) hand China wants to be ‘friendly’ with ASEAN but the aggressiveness and actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy points the other way.”

    Looks like they are still like communist Mao Zedong in their ways. Cakap tak serupa bikin. Had the so-called Cultural Revolution, encouraged everybody to speak up in freedom etc, but actually it was a means by Mao Zedong to flush out his enemies and have the “Red Guards” dragged them out on the streets, humiliated, taunted etc.

    Maybe communication failure between the political masters and the PLA. Maybe crude tactic to hoodwink the public. Both are terribly dangerous and that attitude and behaviour must be damned and condemned.

  5. Is this what “containment of China” is all about? Is this why China should be contained? If so, I’m all for it.

    And why shouldn’t they be contained. One way or another. When they behave like that.

    Did they just draw the dotted line? And now try to enforce it? Which is clearly against their commitment to the Document of Conduct (DOC) signed with ASEAN in November 2002.

    As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, big shame on them if they don’t try to resolve issues on multiple claims to disputed territories based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) dated 1982.

    They must behave in a civilized manner now. The days of communist Mao Zedong have long gone. They must start being a responsible lot.

    • China was introverted before. For long periods in their history, they were fighting one another. Among the clans and sub-clans. Among the various states and principalities. The North invading the South. Expansion westwards to the highlands and the Muslim areas, and then Tibet.

      But they also were invaded, conquered and ruled by foreigners. The Mongols under Genghis Khan ruled them for 80 years. The Manchus ruled them for several hundred years until the 20th Century.

      But those were in the days of savagery and worldwide Imperialism. No more for a long time already. Conquest or occupation of territories not belonging to them must stop.

      How to stop them? United Nations. Individual nations and political groupings like Asean must make noise. Shout against them. Keep doing so until they cease doing so.

    • In 2002 ASEAN and China signed non-binding agreement to solve disputes peacefully. But work on a legally binding Code of Conduct been going on many years after that.

      Philippines and Vietnam been calling for faster work on completing the Code. Any signs of deliberately delay the work to fit their plans?

      United States and other countries backing the Code. Any effect?

  6. Selamat hari jadi TLDM.

    I agree that we should have a strong, modern navy. It is not just about prestige, but a necessity; an imperative.

    To the less initiated, I would like to emphasize that, not since Sukarno’s “Ganyang Malaysia” have we ever face more severe threat to our territorial integrity than today. Simply put, if the Chinese have their way, we will lose about a quarter of our territory! Yet not much has been really made known to public, as if we can simply sweep this under the proverbial carpet. In comparison, we are so concerned about a bunch of rag tag fighters taking over a small kampung named Tanduo in Lahad Datu.

    Much had been said about Chinese claims over most of South China Sea and how it is according to them, “indisputable based on historical facts and maps”.

    Check out the following link to The Philippine’s Institute of Maritime and Ocean Affairs.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18010607/catalogue_historical_truth_liesLOW.pdf

    They took the pain to researched and published all these maps going back to 1136 AD where a stone etched map from Fuchang, China made during the Song Dynasty. The map titled ‘Hua Yi Tu’ or ‘Map of China and the Barbarian Countries’ was published in the 1900s and is now in the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xi’an, China. (Yup – they call everybody else “barbarian”).

    This and another 71 maps, including 15 maps from China itself consistently show Hainan Island as the southernmost territory of China. On the other hand the sometimes 10 dash line, sometime 11 dash line and more recently 9 dash line is only based on some Chinese idiot’s sketch in 1947. It is only officially lodged (vaguely and not in compliance with UNCLOS or international standard and norm) to the UN in 2009!!

    The Chinese “Historical Facts” is just a Giant Historical Lies!! Yet they have no qualm pushing their way and pretending like they are in the right.

    What are we, and our government doing about it?

    • I’m afraid our government leader has been busy placating those of them who came here in large numbers since the 19th Century. Examples – financial aid to Chinese schools, scholarships to them who have been the richest community in this country for many decades and who have so many millionaires donating money for scholarships etc that UTAR refused a RM30 million donation from a Chinese engineer multi-millionaire 1-2 years ago.

      Despite those, was given the Chinese tsunami at PRU13. Still trying to placate them. Sent his son to study in Beijing. Won’t do anything to offend them and the Motherland. Tun Dr Mahathir wants him out but until that happens, we cannot expect anything but mere grinning or pretending not seeing the show of force in the Spratlys.

      But we need to keep on shouting. At both our leader to take action as well as to those menacing in our backyard.

    • Whatever maps and claims they may have, they must go by the United Nations rules and conduct of international behaviour. They must not act like international thugs and gangsters.

      They are a Member of the Permanent Five of the Security Council, for goodness sake. They have been in the habit of gangsterism since the days of communist Mao Zedong. Exporting revolutions like the bloody communist terrorist Chin Peng tried to take from them decades ago.

      The United Nations Security Council seat was at first allotted to Taiwan, where the nationalist forces went after the communists came into power on the mainland. Then the communist Chinese demanded that they be represented at UN, not Taiwan. By that time they have already been recognized as having nuclear weapons, having tested nuclear bombs at Lop Nor. And they got the seat and became big-headed.

      We must whack them verbally and endlessly, and continuously tell them to be a responsible Member of the Permanent Five at the Security Council. And get our government leader to do so, too.

      Throughout the history of mankind, nations go to war to protect and defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Small we may be but make alliances with the other Big Powers if need be.

      • “whack them verbally and endlessly….”.

        But not militarily?

        Now what was that about “being all bark and no bite”?

        Seriously, what can you hope for when the Asean position post the Langkawi Summit is more “jaw jaw” and “make nice nice” with China?

        Do you get the impression that Indonesia and Thailand aren’t mightily bothered about this issue?

        If China comes “bearing gifts”, why should they complain?

        The US, for all it’s vaunted military muscle, isn’t in a position to spread the moolah around, Obama’s pivot to Asia notwithstanding.

        Maybe a Republican President and administration in the US might shake things up a tad more.

      • Whack militarily? Would you like to provide your backside for the purpose?

        You enjoy being sarcastic or even making fun of the predicament faced by small counties in the face of the bullying by a big country like China, do you?

        If you are a Malaysian, you must be what they call Cina Bukit, a term used for the DAP supremo since his Malacca days. If you are a Singaporean, ditto. Sure you’d be scared even to write unsavoury comments in Singapore blogs as you would be traced and dealt with. The news portals there are licensed.

        Your comments have mostly been unfavourable and not constructive to this country, Malaysia. You will continue to be whacked each time you come in like that. That we certainly can do. Also non militarily.

      • China has risen and it has become bold in exerting its claims in the South China Sea. It is embarking on the policy of occupying those geographical features it claims because occupation is 99% ownership. China will never want to use the UN conventions on the law of the sea and it has consistently said it would want to resolve the issue on a bilateral basis with claimant States. So, it’d be interesting to observe how it would navigate the COC. China has built immense naval power mixing the Mahan and Corbett approaches to ensure its control of strategic points in the South China Sea as a trading route and military positions. Philippines can make all the noise in the world but that’s all it can do against a regional major power like China. The US be it a Democrat or Republican US, will be very careful of its actions against China because of other strategic interest namely economics. China remains the biggest holder of US govt bonds. The US will use more words than action . It will be a fight for hegemonic power between the US and China in the Asia Pacific region. There may not be open conventional conflict because both will not want such occurrence. There will be sabre rattling and strong diplomatic words exchanges. That would probably all. The US left the region for more than 10 years busy with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When it came back, China has risen with a strong economy, modernised military and a naval power set to reach the blue water category. So , it will take a very crafty diplomacy on the part of ASEAN in addressing SCS issue vis a vis China.

      • @Anti-Idiot 20:15

        “Sarcastic”? “Making fun”?

        Then, why don’t you answer my question about whether Thailand and Indonesia have been “mightily bothered” by this issue?

        After all, they aren’t exactly pipsqueak inconsequential states, are they?

        If you are a student of realpolitik (which, among other things, includes where power really lies), then pray enlighten us as to what Malaysia should be doing to address this issue.

        Are you advocating military measures? A trade boycott? A freeze in diplomatic relations and a recall of Ambassadors on both sides? Siding with the Philippines and Vietnam to fashion a more “pugnacious” approach to China? Offering the US increased access to military facilities in Malaysia, especially on the east coast of the peninsula and in East Malaysia?

        Come on, let us have the specifics.

        Instead of just mouthing off….


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