KUALA LUMPUR: Contradictory statements on the encroachment or otherwise of Chinese vessels in Malaysian waters is very puzzling.
The Diplomat reports that it could simply be a further illustration of Malaysia’s policy of playing it safe when it comes to the South China Sea dispute.
The report said Shahidan Kassim, minister in the prime minister’s department, had said last week that around 100 Chinese registered boats and vessels had been detected in the Luconia Shoals, but on Monday Defence Minister Hushammuddin Hussein denied there was any encroachment.
Hishammuddin was quoted in news reports as saying that he was told by Royal Malaysian Navy Chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Badaruddin that Chinese vessels did not encroach into Malaysian waters and that he felt “truly relieved”.
Hishammuddin had, a day earlier, said the issue “can be resolved bilaterally” if the sightings were confirmed. He was reported by the Straits Times as saying: “I don’t think we want to send warships if it is true at all, to chase fishing boats away.”