‘CoC a must to avoid South China Sea tiff’

National 2 minutes, 36 seconds


ASEAN must intensify consultations to establish the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea to avoid any confrontation among the claimant states of the disputed islands, Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman said.

Speaking to reporters after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting here yesterday, he said ASEAN must avoid any action that would be counter-productive and bring member states further apart, either among themselves or with China.

ASEAN member states need to handle the South China Sea issue constructively, as it has the potential to undermine all of ASEAN’s past and present efforts to ensure peace, security and stability, the Malaysian foreign minister said.

“ASEAN must establish the COC as soon as possible. ASEAN must work diligently towards the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety,” he added.

His comments came after Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario called for ASEAN to push for its “northern neighbour” to immediately stop massive reclamations in the disputed South China Sea islands.

“Is it not time for ASEAN to say to our northern neighbour that what it is doing is wrong and that the massive reclamations must be immediately stopped? On this important issue, is it not time for ASEAN to finally stand up for what is right?” he said.

In his speech during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, the Phiippine foreign secretary said the threats posed by the “massive reclamations” are real and cannot be ignored or denied.

“Their adverse implications are urgent and far-reaching, going beyond the region to encompass the global community.”

A recent report by IHS Jane's Defence Weekly said China has been making progress on building an airstrip in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines have overlapping claims of South China Sea, with China claiming almost the whole of South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia foreign minister said some members expressed concerns of radicalisation and violent extremism in the region.

He said Malaysia has proposed an informal ministerial meeting in May involving some of the ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, together with Australia and New Zealand to discuss ways to collectively and comprehensively deal with the threat.

He said Malaysia will convene a special ASEAN Ministerial meeting on Radicalisation and Extremism on October 2.

The minister further said the meeting also discussed the proposal for a common time zone for all ASEAN member states, but the proposal was put on hold as there were different views on the matter.

He said the meeting also discussed the proposals from Indonesia and Singapore on streamlining ASEAN meetings to reduce the number of ASEAN Summits from two to one per year.

However, he said Malaysia was of the view that holding two summits per year would remain relevant in the years to come, as it gives greater political impetus to ASEAN community building.

Representing Brunei during the meeting was Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng.

The Brunei Times