Sarcasm diplomacy

Former Foreign Minister Dato Seri Panglima Anifah Aman, lashed a sarcastic comment to Foreign Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Hussein on the latter’s respond on the seemingly indecisive and lame statement about Malaysia’s position on the ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ issue brewing in the South China Sea.

Press Statement

Response to the Press Statement by the
Minister of Foreign Affairs on 16 July 2020

I refer to the Press Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, YB Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on 16 July 2020.

I would like to thank the Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to my statement.

While I appreciate the Minister’s clarification, West Capella was not mentioned at any point during his Press Conference or in the many news reports following the Press Conference.

Therefore it was unbecoming on the part of the Minister to state that I misunderstood what he had said when he himself should be blamed for not being clear and transparent in his statement.

And if Malaysia’s position on the South China Sea has not changed, what prevents the Minister from openly and categorically register our displeasure on the activities of the Chinese survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its flotilla in Malaysia’s maritime areas in April and May; and why the Ministry has not responded or replied to the note verbale from the People’s Republic of China objecting Malaysia Partial Submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Otherwise Malaysia’s consistent and principled position of not recognising China’s claims over Malaysia’s maritime areas in the South China Sea would be jeopardised.

Malaysia is an independent sovereign country that is a friend to all, and enemy to none. China is one of our closest partners and through my experience, I have had my fair share engaging with China’s Foreign Minister, and raised our concerns on matters relating to the peace, security and stability in the South China Sea, although I must say that it was not always smooth. Indeed, it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemy, but a great deal more to stand up to one of your closest friends as China is indeed one of our closest friends.

Having said that I must congratulate the current Foreign Minister for being able to strengthen bilateral relations within 100 days by just phone and video calls. A job that I as a Foreign Minister for over 9 years did through travelling, meetings, negotiations, lobbying other Foreign Ministers, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Royals to strengthen relations on various aspects. I salute the new Foreign Minister for being able to do what I was not able to in just 100 days via telephone and video calls only.


17 July 2020


Anifah who was the Foreign Minister for nine years under Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, is outrightly telling off Foreign Minister Hishammuddin through this media banter.

Foreign Minister Hishammuddin is pussy-footing on a very serious matter which is challenging Malaysia’s sovereignty, right of maritime passage, exclusive economic zone and source of food, with his diplomatic statement.

The Star story:

M’sia all for peaceful solution on South China Sea matters, says Hisham

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia reiterates its stand in calling for a peaceful resolution to matters related to the South China Sea, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic).

He said this must be done based on universally recognised principles of international law.

Hishammuddin also said Malaysia maintained its position that all parties must work together to ensure peace, security and stability in the South China Sea.

“Malaysia will also continue to play an active role in ensuring that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace and trade, ” he said in a statement on Thursday (July 16).

The minister said that as a claimant state, Malaysia always maintained a consistent stand and commitment in the issue of the South China Sea.

“We are firm in our commitment to safeguard our sovereignty, sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea. Malaysia’s national interests remain paramount, ” he said.

He was commenting on a statement by the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling China’s claims across most of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful”.

On another matter, Hishammuddin said his earlier comments on China’s military encroaching into Sabah and Sarawak waters in the South China Sea was in reference to activities at West Capella which had been managed during his first 100 days in the ministry.

He said the vessels, comprising a Chinese survey vessel, the accompanying Chinese Coast Guard and fishing militia, were present in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from April to May, and left after diplomatic efforts.

“Regarding the statement by the former foreign minister, our position on the South China Sea has not changed from the time he led Wisma Putra.

“In fact, if he knew the context of my statement regarding West Capella activities as clarified, I am certain he would not have misunderstood and reacted the way he did, ” he added.

West Capella is a Malaysian-contracted drillship in the South China Sea.

Former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was reported to have criticised Hishammuddin’s claim that there had been no further encroachment in South China Sea, saying that the minister was either “in denial or ignorant of the facts”.

He said Hishammuddin must be more assertive in defending Malaysia’s sovereignty against continued China’s encroachment.

He was asked to comment on the recent Auditor-General’s Report that China’s military encroached into Sabah and Sarawak waters 89 times from 2016 to 2019.


The South China Morning Post story:

Will South China Sea’s rival claimants be emboldened by US policy shift?

Washington’s policy shift on the South China Sea could embolden Southeast Asian claimant states to take on China with legal action, observers say, after the US rejected most of Beijing’s claims in the strategic waterway as “unlawful” this week.

While avoiding being seen to be taking sides, some of China’s neighbours said in a statement after the US remarks that Beijing should follow international law in relation to the South China Sea.

Tensions over the resource-rich region have been rising, with both Southeast Asian nations and the United States saying China was to blame because of its infrastructure and military build-up there. The US, which is not a claimant state, has meanwhile stepped up its military presence, sending warships and aircraft to the disputed waters to keep tabs on China’s activities.

The situation escalated on Monday, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the US formally opposed Chinese claims to waters within the so-called nine-dash line that encompasses almost all of the South China Sea – in line with a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal at The Hague.

David Stilwell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, on Tuesday said the US could sanction Chinese officials and companies that pursued “illegal” claims in the South China Sea.

Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in the US, said Pompeo’s statement signalled that Washington would reinforce its support of the tribunal ruling and would “likely encourage other countries to more actively support the ruling as well”.

By rejecting China’s maritime claims, the US was serving the “interests of those who want the [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] to be the basis for determining maritime rights in the South China Sea”, according to retired US Navy Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt.

“What Washington wants is for [China] to just follow accepted international law, which includes UNCLOS,” said McDevitt, a senior fellow with CNA Strategic Studies.

That UN convention was the basis for the case filed by the Philippines with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2012.

It challenged the legality of China’s claims to waters based on the “nine-dash line” that appears on official Chinese maps and encircles much of the South China Sea. The tribunal invalidated those claims in 2016, ruling in favour of the Philippines, but China has refused to recognise the decision.

Four years on, Vietnam is mulling legal action to assert its maritime claim. Its deputy foreign minister Le Hoai Trung said Hanoi would prefer to negotiate, but other measures such as mediation, arbitration and litigation would not be ruled out. In May, Hanoi nominated four arbitrators and four conciliators, a sign it could soon file a complaint.

After the remarks from Pompeo and Stilwell, Vietnam’s foreign ministry released a statement of its own. It did not name the US, but said “respecting the legal order at the sea and implementing [the UN convention] in full and with good faith” was critical.The under-the-radar South China Sea projects Beijing uses to cement its claims

Manila-based academic Richard Heydarian said the US statement had “major operational implications”, especially for US allies like the Philippines, as it offered clarification of America’s commitment in the South China Sea.

“In the event that China engages in a provocative or aggressive unilateral action against Filipino vessels or troops in the area, then you can make the legal argument that the Pentagon has to intervene on the Philippines’ behalf,” he said.

Heydarian said Vietnam could launch a legal challenge against China’s claim after Hanoi’s new leadership is confirmed next year. “Vietnam is ready for it. It’s just a matter of the political decision by the Vietnamese leadership,” he said.


Many opined that Malaysia should have a tough stand against China imperialous tendency to control South China through the unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’.

Malaysia should utilitise her International and regional influence for a multi lateral talks as a solution agreeable between claimants of the unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’, in accordance to the UNCLOS 1982.

Published in: on July 17, 2020 at 18:30  Leave a Comment  

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