DOC has no “teeth”, Foreign Minister says

Kuala Lumpur:  The Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea will be discussed by ASEAN Ministers in its meeting in Singapore next week following China’s increasing “militarisation” in the region.

Foreign Minister, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) said, even though the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) was signed in 2002 by China and ASEAN, it looks like it has no “teeth”.

He said, following the incidents involving China with Vietnam and the Philippines and the assertiveness of the Chinese in South China Sea, many ASEAN nations felt that DOC is not capable to maintain peace and security in the region any more.

“Due to that incidents the ASEAN nations felt that one instrument such as COC should be established,” he said replying to the question from Kepala Batas MP, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican.    

He said, he is very confident that the COC has been studied and scrutinised by all parties concerned.

“If COC does not work then we will find other methods and means,” he said in Dewan Rakyat today.

He was responding to many questions from many MPs on the statement made by Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that he does not want Chinese warships to be present in the South China Sea.         

“The construction of military bases and the deployment of military assets on its man-made islands in South China Sea have created discomfort among ASEAN countries,”Saifuddin said in response to questions on Malaysia’s stance towards China’s moves to protect the nation’s sovereignty.

Besides that China has also built many artificial islands near Spratly Islands and equipped them among others with airstrips and missile stations.

China also deploys large coastal guard ships resembling warships in the strategic locations in South China Sea that has added uneasiness in the region, said Saifuddin.

In response whether Malaysia would file an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to claim ownership of Layang-Layang Island near Spratly Islands, Saifuddin said, Malaysia’s focus now is to strengthen ways to “control China’s behaviour” in the South China Sea area through COC which will be formed the soonest possible. -Malaysia World News