Amidst the nation’s euphoria and exuberance after a whole week of GE15 drama, Malaysia has now decided on its newly appointed Government, and all eyes are on PM10, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to solve many of the nation’s current woes. From a stagnating economy bogged down by a lacklustre market, rising cost of living and inflation, a burgeoning underemployment on the rise, an ageing population not ready for retirement, as well as an underlying geopolitical conflict as its territorial waters are under currently dispute and is encroached on a daily basis by its biggest trading partner.
As Malaysia went into elections and did our responsibility to vote for our leader, the G20 Summit was recently concluded in neighbouring Indonesia. Major world leaders including US President Joe Biden, China’s President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several other global leaders were recently at the Bali Summit last week1, and the discussions that took place were nothing less than controversial. Among the highlights include China’s and Indonesia’s alleged pact to ‘strengthen strategic coordination in SouthEast Asia’2, and Jakarta’s plan to to turn the country into a global maritime hub.
What does this mean for Malaysia? It means that our claims and rights over the South China Sea are at a high risk of being denied. Add up the daily encroachments by Chinese patrol vessels, the ‘open secret’ of a fortified Chinese military base in Spratly Islands3, fully equipped with radar, missiles, and aircraft hangars, and the occasional ‘rocket debris’ landings in Sarawak and Sabah, this all sums up to be a battlefield for any upcoming geopolitical conflict. And the worst part is, Malaysia is left behind in all aspects pertaining to the waters; diplomatically we are left powerless, our military assets are among the oldest and outdated in the region, and the best part is Malaysia does not even have a solid plan on how to mitigate the risk, if anything happens. Despite countless reminders and calls from all levels of the Navy to the Government, little has been done to prepare for such a situation if it arises.
As a fellow Malaysian and former Navy officer, I am deeply concerned about the current state of affairs in our national security. I hope and pray that with the new leadership and Government of the day, the necessary policies and actions can be taken swiftly to address the time bomb.
It’s nothing less of a daunting task for our new PM to balance the current state of the nation with a potential foreign conflict waiting to knock on our door. The key to going through these waters are superior diplomacy, balanced with strategic military spending and firm defence policies and negotiations to ensure Malaysia is not on the losing end. All the best Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and may the force be with you.
Retired Major Colonel,
Royal Malaysian Navy Lumut, Perak