LETTER | Ongoing debate and disputes over the territorial waters of the South China Sea (SCS) may now have escalated to the point where Malaysia is set to lose out on its oil and gas assets in the region.
As one of the main economic contributors to the country, Malaysia cannot afford to lose these assets and there is a need for a “wake-up call” for Malaysia to aggressively act now and defend its oil and gas assets at the SCS region rather than taking a “soft diplomatic” approach over the situation.
There is a huge fear that Malaysia is starting to take a similar “cautious” approach that has been implemented by our neighbours in Indonesia to ensure that China’s trade relationship with Malaysia continues to prosper and the country’s belief that legally Malaysia will have a strong challenge against the Nine Dash Line claims from the Chinese government.
This has already been proven far from the truth as, despite the Chinese not having any substantial claims using that argument, they continue to pursue military activities within the region and secure their claims over areas within the SCS region.
Some may even suggest that China has now claimed an upper hand in the region not only by having a superior military presence in the SCS but also by taking bullying tactics of constant harassment and military pressure to scare off other countries from acting out against them.
What choice does Malaysia have now to ensure that our assets are protected? For one, we must not stop and continue to strongly fight against the legality of the Nine Dash Line claims from the Chinese government.
Reports have already indicated that there are efforts from the Chinese government to hide any pieces of evidence that may suggest against the legality of the Nine Dash Line claims, including documentation and maps that may suggest this.
This among many others are strong case points to prove to the international community thus securing Malaysia's legal position in this matter.
China must be made to understand that legally, their claims hold no ground and thus ensure that the Malaysian oil and gas fields contained within the Nine-Dash Line are deliberately made ambiguous to justify claims from the Chinese government on vast natural resources of the SCS.
If Malaysia is not careful, the country will fall victim to having its biggest natural resources taken by a bullish superpower that seeks to expand its claim for natural resources. While in reality, Malaysia is no match for the might of China, as a nation Malaysia cannot just fold over to the demands of China.
Malaysia, along with its leaders, must remain vocal in voicing out China’s illegal act of claiming what they deem to be their right over the SCS and continue to hold Malaysia’s legal right over the territorial waters of the SCS.
Malaysia must not be left red-faced of having been taken for a ride, especially over its oil and gas assets.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.