Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’

Malaysia: PM confident Saudi Arabia understands Malaysia-Qatar ties

October 17, 2017

| October 16, 2017

Najib Razak says although Malaysia enjoys special relationship with Saudi Arabia, it has good cooperation with all countries.

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PUTRAJAYA: Bilateral relations between Malaysia and Qatar, specifically in the trade sector, is strong despite the Middle Eastern nation facing a crisis with other Gulf countries.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said this was so as relations between the two countries had been well established for the past 43 years.

He said Malaysia was known as a country that enjoyed good cooperation with all others, as well as with Muslim nations, as it practiced the principle of ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderation).

Najib said although Malaysia had a special relationship with Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani’s visit to Malaysia has not raised any problem.

Najib said he was confident the Saudi government understood Malaysia’s stand.

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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, right, speaks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, and Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V, after inspecting an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

“We will continue to maintain the relationship (with Saudi Arabia) at its best, but this does not prevent us from having ties, especially economic relations, with Qatar,” he said in a press conference after meeting Sheikh Tamim Hamad at Seri Perdana here, today.

Also present were Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Minister with Special Functions in the Prime Minister’s Department Hishammuddin Hussein.

On June 5, five Gulf nations, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Yemen announced the decision to break ties with Qatar, on grounds that the country supported terrorism.

Asked whether the Emir of Qatar wanted Malaysia as mediator between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Najib said, “It may be beyond Malaysia’s capacity to become a mediator or offer itself as a mediator.

“But they (Qatar) know Malaysia is a country that they can rely on to play a positive part in the conflict’s resolution, in matters of principle.”

Najib said during the meeting, the two leaders also discussed cooperation on anti-terrorism and security.

He said the Emir of Qatar was serious about fighting terrorism, and hoped for continued cooperation with Malaysia to address the issue.

“The Rohingya issue was also discussed, in which Qatar is aware that Malaysia is at the forefront of helping the Rohingyas, as well as in the construction of a ‘field hospital’ at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“I also raised Qatar’s promise to contribute US$50 million (for the Rohingya) during the Deputy Prime Minister’s (Zahid Hamidi) visit to Qatar. The mechanism on how the donation can be channelled, will now be determined,” he said.


Malaysia rolls out red carpet for Qatar’s emir

October 16, 2017

Malaysia on Monday rolled out the red carpet for Qatar’s emir, who is on his first trip to Southeast Asia four months after a diplomatic crisis erupted between his nation and four Arab countries.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur late Sunday, was given a 21-gun salute at a state welcoming ceremony in Parliament attended by Malaysia’s king, Prime Minister Najib Razak and Cabinet ministers.

Sheikh Tamim later held talks with Najib, after which they witnessed the signing of agreements on training for diplomats, higher education, and legal and judicial cooperation.

The emir was to meet Malaysia’s king, followed by a state banquet at the palace before leaving late Monday.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar on June 5 due to its close ties with Iran and alleged support for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. They also launched an economic boycott, stopping Qatar Airways flights from using their airspace, closing off the small country’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia and blocking its ships from using their ports.

The emir’s visit to Malaysia comes eight months after Saudi Arabian King Salman visited, the first trip to the Southeast Asian country by a Saudi king in more than a decade.

The Gulf crisis puts predominantly Muslim Malaysia in a tight spot because it is close to both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Najib in July backed Kuwait’s effort to mediate the crisis and called for a swift solution.

“We pray that all differences among our Arab brothers will be settled amicably and that the unity and harmony of the (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries can be restored,” Najib said in a statement.

The emir, who will also travel to Singapore and Indonesia, is on his second trip abroad since the diplomatic crisis erupted. He traveled to Turkey, Germany, France and the United States in September.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it was the first visit by a ruling Qatari emir since Shekih Tamim’s father visited Malaysia in 2009. It said the visit provided an opportunity for the leaders to discuss bilateral issues and exchange views on issues of common interest.

Qatar is Malaysia’s 40th largest trading partner, with total trade of $566 million in 2016.

Philippine troops kill two militant leaders allied to IS group

October 16, 2017


© Ferdinandh Cabrera, AFP | Smoke billows from houses after aerial bombings by Philippine air force planes on Islamist militant positions in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on September 17.


Latest update : 2017-10-16

Philippine troops killed two leaders of a militant alliance in an operation in southern Marawi City on Monday, the defence minister said, a big boost to a military battling to contain the spread of Islamic State’s radical ideology.

Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia, and Omarkhayam Maute, one of two Middle East-educated brothers at the helm of the militant alliance, were killed in an operation based on information from a recently rescued hostage.

“Following their operational plan, they (troops) were able to go this morning… they were killed,” Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.

“We were able to get a testimony from a hostage. She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building. That’s the building that we assaulted early this morning.”

Their deaths will be a major win for the military, which has been criticised for its slow progress in retaking Marawi, the country’s only Muslim majority city, and the ease at which rebels laid siege to it on May 23.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been displaced by the fighting, which the authorities say has killed 813 rebels, 47 civilians and 162 military. Child soldiers and teenagers are among the militant fighters.

The rebel occupation of the heart of Marawi has been the biggest internal security crisis in the Catholic-majority Philippines for years, compounding fears that Islamic State’s ideology and its advanced recruitment methods are more prevalent on the island of Mindanao than was previously imagined.

Another leader, Abdullah Maute, the group’s military commanders, was reported by the army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death. Lorenzana said the military was trying to locate another rebel commander, Malaysian operative Mahmud Ahmad.

The leaders have been central to the rebels regrouping,re-arming and recruiting after previous clashes over the past two years with the Maute group, a well-funded, family-led extremist group that emerged from relative obscurity.

The Dawla Islamiya rebel alliance is comprised of fighters from the Maute group from Hapilon’s radical faction of Abu Sayyaf, and aided by foreigners from countries that include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and some Middle East states.

Experts say foreigners have been instrumental in recruiting for the movement, preying on disenfranchised youth.

End is near

Lorenzana said the battle for Marawi could be over imminently, adding that 17 hostages were rescued on Monday. He said it was premature to discuss lifting martial law in Mindanao, which is in place until the end of the year.

“The indication here is that the Marawi incident is close to the end. We may announce the termination of hostilities in the couple of days.”

Lorenzana said he and President Rodrigo Duterte postponed a trip to Marawi on Monday when troops informed them an operation to kill Maute and Hapilon was in place.

The insurgents have surprised the military by their organisation, combat capability and their endurance of more than 130 days of ground offensives and air strikes from fighter jets, bombers and attack helicopters.

Philippine troops have been supported by U.S. and Australian technical support, including use of surveillance planes.

Rommel Banlaoi, head of the Philippine Institute for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said Monday’s operation was a “tremendous setback” to the pro-Islamic state groups in the region, but warned the battle against extremism was far from over.

“The death of the two leaders shall not make our law enforcement complacent,” he told news channel ANC.

“We have seen many times in the past, the death of key leaders will not prevent the terrorist organisations from wreaking havoc.”

Banlaoi said retaliatory attacks can be expected from deputies of the militant leadership, who would assume control of the networks. He said intelligence should be strengthened, and efforts made to tackle recruitment.


Qatar’s emir visiting Malaysia

October 15, 2017

The emir planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations [Getty Images]

The emir planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations [Getty Images]

From Al Jazeera

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is in Malaysia for a two-day state visit, accompanied by a business delegation and cabinet members.

The emir, who arrived on Sunday, planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of energy, the economy and investment.

Here is an overview of Qatari-Malaysian economic and political relations.

World Cup

  • In preparation for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Qatar is undertaking many construction projects, including a rail network, eight stadiums and the new city of Lusail.
  • Qatar’s need for wood in the context of this construction boom has presented a strategic opportunity for timber-exporting Malaysia. Since the Saudi-led blockade was imposed on Qatar in June, Malaysia has replaced Saudi Arabia as a steel supplier to Qatar.
  • Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Hamidi, who visited Qatar in February, has expressed hopes that Malaysian companies would be able to participate in World Cup development projects.
  • There are 15 Malaysian companies operating in Qatar in the contracting, infrastructure and hospitality sectors.

Bilateral trade 

  • Qatar and Malaysia formed a $2bn joint investment fund in 2011.
  • In 2016, total trade between the two countries amounted to $566m, according to Malaysian local media figures. Today, the trade volume amounts to nearly $1.1bn, according to the Qatar News Agency.
  • Malaysian exports to Qatar include machinery, wood products, electrical equipment and metal products. Malaysia exports timber to 218 countries around the world, identifying the timber industry as key to its 2020 development plan.
  • Malaysian imports from Qatar mainly include petroleum, chemicals, aluminium products, light machinery and equipment.

Diplomatic relations

  • The emir’s visit comes after Malaysia received Saudi Arabia’s King Salman at the end of February. Malaysia has friendly relations with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
  • Commenting on the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and three of its neighbours in the Gulf, the Malaysian prime minister said: “We pray that with the grace of Allah the Almighty, all differences among our Arab brothers will be settled amicably and that the unity and harmony of the GCC countries can be restored.”
  • The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1974 through the Qatari embassy in Indonesia. A Qatari embassy in Kuala Lumpur was established in 2004.
  • Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Malaysia in 2009, while the Malaysian king visited Qatar in 2010.


South China Sea: US warship sails near islands China claims

October 11, 2017

Published: 7:50 pm, Wednesday, 11 October 2017

A US Navy destroyer has sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

A US Navy destroyer has sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea, even as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

The operation on Tuesday was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

But it was not as provocative as previous ones carried out since Trump took office in January.

Three US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out normal manoeuvring operations that challenged ‘excessive maritime claims’ near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.

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USS Chafee

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had lodged ‘stern representations’ with the United States, and reiterated that the Paracels were Chinese territory.

‘China immediately sent naval vessels and military jets to investigate and identify, as well as warn to the vessel and ask it to leave,’ she told a daily news briefing on Wednesday.

‘China will continue to take resolute measures to protect Chinese sovereign territory and maritime interests. China urges the US to conscientiously respect China’s sovereign territory and security interests, conscientiously respect the efforts regional countries have made to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea, and stop these wrong actions.’

Next month, Trump makes his first visit to Asia as president, including a stop in China, which he has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea. China is North Korea’s neighbor and biggest trading partner.

Unlike in August, when a US Navy destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, officials said the destroyer on Tuesday sailed close to but not within that range of the islands.

Twelve nautical miles mark internationally recognised territorial limits. Sailing within that range is meant to show the United States does not recognise territorial claims.

The Pentagon did not comment directly on the operation, but said the United States carried out regular freedom-of-navigation operations and would continue to do so.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $US5 trillion ($A6.4 trillion) in shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


Islamic Terrorism: Malaysian militant Joraimee killed in Marawi, Philippines

October 10, 2017

By  – @inquirerdotnet

 / 07:06 PM October 10, 2017

Malaysian militant Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee

PETALING JAYA – Police have confirmed that Malaysian militant Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee was killed in Marawi City in the Philippines.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun confirmed with The Star that Muhammad Joraimee, also known as Abu Nur, was dead.

“Yes, he was killed on Sept 28, 2017 in southern Philippines,” he said via a WhatsApp message on Tuesday.

However, Fuzi did not reveal whether Mohammad Joraimee’s body was confirmed using DNA analysis as had been reported by a news portal.

The Star reported on Oct 1 that the 42-year-old Joraimee was believed to be among 15 persons killed in aerial bombings as Filipino troops regained control of Bato Mosque, which was used as the Islamic State (IS) command centre in Marawi City, Mindanao.

The former Selayang Municipal Council contract worker had become the most trusted lieutenant of Universiti Malaya professor-turned-militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad while hiding in the jungle with the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Basilan, southern Philippines.

Joraimee and Dr Mahmud were among the key planners of the May 23 Marawi attack with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers – Abdullah and Omarkhayam – for the creation of a caliphate in South-East Asia.

Joraimee is the third Malaysian known to have been killed in the Marawi city siege which is entering its fourth month.

Intelligence sources identified the two Malaysians killed in May as Abdurahman Asmawi from Kelantan and Dr Kamsa Yahya from Kedah.


Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

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Malaysian police arrest 8 suspected militants, including foreigners — Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State ties alleged

October 7, 2017


KUALA LUMPUR: Eight suspected militants, including those with alleged links to Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State, have been arrested in anti-terror raids, Malaysian police revealed on Saturday (Oct 7).

The arrests were made in the states of Sabah, Selangor and Perak, between Sep 27 and Oct 6.

In the first series of arrests in Sabah, two Malaysians, two Filipinos and one Filipino with Malaysian permanent residency are accused of helping Abu Sayyaf members infiltrate Malaysia through the Sabah.

The raid is a follow-up to the arrests of Abu Sayyaf sympathisers on Sep 14, when seven Filipinos were arrested, said Inspector-General of Police Mohamed Fuzi Harun.

Police arresting the suspects at Sandakan, Sabah. (Photo: Malaysian Police)

In a separate raid on Oct 1, an Albanian man was arrested in Selangor for allegedly communicating with Islamic State (IS) militants overseas. The 35-year-old is a guest lecturer at a local public university, added Malaysia’s top cop in a statement.

As for the remaining two suspects, they were previously arrested for terror links in 2013.

One of them, a 53-year-old man, had allegedly tried to recruit inmates from Tapah prison in Perak for an unnamed terror group.

A former Internal Security Act detainee, he had also planned to launch attacks at places of worship belonging to Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

His aim was to incite religious conflict, said the Inspector-General of Police, adding that the suspect also allegedly withheld information about a Tandzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia (TAQM) militant, who is on the run.

The last suspect is a 37-year-old who is believed to have recruited two Malaysians to join TAQM.

Source: CNA/ad

Two Women Plead Not Guilty to Killing North Korean Leader’s Half-Brother

October 2, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a banned nerve agent pleaded not guilty at the start of a high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court on Monday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the United Nations, at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb. 13.

Both women wore bullet-proof vests as they were led into the court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital. They face the death penalty if convicted.

The two women nodded their heads when the charge was read out to them at the Shah Alam court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

Siti was dressed in a black floral suit, while Huong wore a white long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans.

The prosecution said in its charge sheet their actions showed “intent to kill the victim” by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim.

Defense lawyers demanded that the prosecution immediately name four other suspects who have also been charged in the case but who are still at large. The prosecution said their identities would be revealed during the trial.

The women had told their lawyers they did not know they were participating in a deadly attack and believed they were carrying out a prank for a reality TV show.

They had carried out several practice runs at shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the attack on Kim Jong Nam, the prosecution said.

“The prank practice carried out by the first and second accused with the supervision of the four who are still at large was preparation to see through their common intention to kill the victim,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said that Kim Jong Un’s regime was behind the murder. North Korea denies the allegation.

The trial is expected to run until Nov. 30 and the prosecution is expected to call up to 40 witnesses.

The prosecution also said in its opening statement that expert testimony would be presented to prove that VX was the cause of death.

(The story fixes typographical error to “vests”, paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Tavleen Tarrant; Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Edting by Praveen Menon and Paul Tait)

A success story in resolving sea boundary disputes

September 28, 2017

By Tommy Koh
The Straits Times

Timor-Leste and Australia chart the way through conciliation in a first under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

We live in a very troubled world. There are conflicts and disputes between and among states in every region of the world. One category of disputes which is hard to resolve is disputes between states over their land and sea boundaries. The recent tension between China and India is a reminder that their land boundaries have not yet been resolved. In the South China Sea, there are disputes between China and several Asean countries on their competing sovereignty and maritime claims.

Viewed against this background, the announcement by the conciliation commission in Copenhagen on Sept 1, that there had been a breakthrough in the conciliation proceedings on maritime boundaries between Timor-Leste and Australia, was happy news. I wish to explain in this column the facts of the case, the nature of the conciliation proceedings, the elements of the package deal agreed upon by the two parties and some lessons learnt.

There is a lot of confusion in the media and in the minds of the public about the peaceful settlement of disputes. The United Nations Charter refers to the following modalities for the peaceful settlement of disputes: negotiation, fact-finding, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement.

When a country becomes a party of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), it can make a declaration that its preferred mode of dispute settlement is arbitration or the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. If it fails to make a choice, it is deemed to have chosen arbitration. Dispute settlement under Unclos is compulsory. This is why Malaysia was able to institute arbitral proceedings against Singapore in 2003 without our consent. Malaysia did not need Singapore’s consent because our consent was given when we became a party of the convention.

Australia and Timor-Leste are neighbouring states, separated by the Timor Sea at a distance of approximately 300 nautical miles. Timor-Leste (East Timor) was a Portuguese colony from the 16th century until 1975. On Nov 28, 1975, a political party, Fretilin, declared the territory’s independence. Nine days later, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. In 1976, Indonesia declared East Timor as its 27th province. In 1999, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence. From 1999 to 2002, it was administered by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (Untaet). It became independent on May 20, 2002.

There are several issues in the dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia. The first main issue concerns boundaries: the boundaries of the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and their continental shelves. Timor-Leste had, from 2003, requested that Australia negotiate those boundaries but to no avail. The second main issue concerns the development arrangements in a field called Greater Sunrise which, in Timor-Leste’s view, belonged to Timor-Leste and not Australia.


While dispute settlement under Unclos is compulsory, states can make a declaration to exclude from Unclos arbitral or judicial proceedings certain categories of disputes, including maritime boundary disputes. However, these disputes are subject to compulsory conciliation. On March 22, 2002, about two months before Timor-Leste became independent, Australia made a declaration, excluding from Unclos arbitral and judicial proceedings disputes concerning its EEZ boundaries and continental shelf boundaries. Timor-Leste is therefore unable to initiate arbitral or judicial proceedings against Australia on their sea boundaries.

…there was the political will on both sides to find a just and durable compromise. Both sides were willing to give and take. Without the requisite political will, the case would not have succeeded. We must congratulate the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia for setting a good example for the world.

On April 11 last year, Timor-Leste surprised Australia by notifying Canberra that it was initiating compulsory conciliation proceedings against Australia. Timor-Leste also informed Australia that it was appointing Judge Abdul Koroma and Judge Rudiger Wolfrum as its conciliators. On May 2 the same year, Australia informed Timor-Leste that it had appointed Dr Rosalie Balkin and Professor Donald McRae as its conciliators. The four conciliators, with the consent of the two countries, chose Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen as the commission’s fifth conciliator and chairman.

Australia objected to the commission’s competence. In response, the commission held a special hearing on competence from Aug 29 to 31 last year. The following month, on Sept 19, the commission unanimously decided that it had competence. It also decided that it would aim to conclude its work within 12 months from Sept 19, as prescribed by Article 7 of Annex V of Unclos.

This is the first occasion in which Annex V of Unclos has been invoked. It may therefore be useful for us to find out more about conciliation under Unclos. My first point is that under Unclos, we have voluntary conciliation and compulsory conciliation. My second point is that the conciliation commission is not a court of law. It is not the commission’s job to rule on the legal rights of the two parties. The function of the commission is to “hear the parties, examine their claims and objectives, and make proposals to the parties with a view to reaching an amicable settlement”.


At their meeting in Copenhagen on Aug 30 this year, the two parties accepted a package deal proposed by the commission. The package agreement addresses their maritime boundary in the Timor Sea, the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field, the establishment of a special regime for Greater Sunrise, the development of the oil and gas resource, and the sharing of the resulting revenue.

It is the intention of the commission and the two parties to embody the agreement in a legally binding treaty. The two parties will meet at The Hague next month to sign an agreement on the text of the treaty. The treaty itself will be signed subsequently, possibly at the UN, and witnessed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

What lessons can we learn from this case? There are several. First, countries which have disputes about their sea boundaries, or have competing claims about territorial sovereignty, should seriously consider using conciliation to solve their disputes. Unlike arbitration and judicial settlement, conciliation is non-adversarial and the outcome is consensual and win-win.

Second, you should choose your conciliators wisely. In this case, we have five excellent conciliators. The chairman of the commission, Ambassador Taksoe-Jensen, drove the process with energy, determination and fairness. The Unclos deadline for the commission to produce a report within 12 months helped to put pressure on everyone.

Third, the two countries were very well represented. Timor-Leste’s chief negotiator is Mr Xanana Gusmao, the father of the nation. Its agent, Minister Agio Pereira, is cool, wise and solid. Its legal team includes two top legal minds, Professor Vaughan Lowe and Sir Michael Wood. The same is true on the Australian side. Mr Gary Quinlan, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, made an important contribution. Sir Daniel Bethlehem and Professor Chester Brown are a good match for Prof Lowe and Sir Michael.

Finally, and perhaps, the most important factor, is that there was the political will on both sides to find a just and durable compromise. Both sides were willing to give and take. Without the requisite political will, the case would not have succeeded. We must congratulate the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia for setting a good example for the world.

• The author, an ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, served as president of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1981 and 1982, and is currently the chairman of the board of governors of the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline ‘A success story in resolving sea boundary disputes’

Malaysia’s Disavows ASEAN Statement on Myanmar, Revealing Cracks in ASEAN Facade

September 25, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Dissent surfaced again in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Malaysia disavowed a statement issued by the bloc’s chairman, the Philippines, as misrepresenting “the reality” of an exodus of 430,000 ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar.

The grouping of 10 nations in one of the world’s fastest growing regions has long struggled to reconcile conflicting interests in tackling issues such as China’s claims over the South China Sea and the crisis facing the Muslim Rohingya.

“The Philippines, as chair, tolerates the public manifestation of dissenting voices,” the Philippine foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

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Rohingya Muslims, who recently crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to receive food aid near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. AFP photo

The move showed a “new level of maturity” in pushing ASEAN’s principle of consensus when dealing with issues affecting national interests, it added.

Malaysia had made its position clear “in several ASEAN meetings” in New York, the ministry said, adding that it had to also take into account the views of other members, however.

On Sunday, Malaysia “disassociated itself” from the ASEAN chairman’s statement on the grounds that it misrepresented the “reality of the situation” and did not identify the Rohingya as one of the affected communities.

Myanmar objects to the term Rohingya, saying the Muslims of its western state of Rakhine state are not a distinct ethnic group, but illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Senior diplomats and foreign ministers of ASEAN nations discussed the contents of the statement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York before it was published, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Malaysian government sources said.

No consensus was reached by the ASEAN foreign ministers, however, said two Malaysian government officials aware of the discussions.

The chairman’s statement released by the Philippines did not reflect Malaysia’s concerns, said one of the officials, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Malaysia has objected once before to a similar statement on the crisis in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, but Sunday’s response was unexpected, as the grouping has an overriding policy of non-interference in domestic matters.

Myanmar must halt “atrocities which have unleashed a full-scale humanitarian crisis,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman urged on Sunday.

“Viable and long-term solutions to the root causes to the conflict must be found,” he said in a statement.

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Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman


Malaysia’s dissent, however, only reflects strained ties in ASEAN, said Shahriman Lockman, a senior analyst with the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in the country’s capital.

“What’s truly exceptional here is not Malaysia’s move to dissociate itself from the statement,” he told Reuters. “It’s the failure of the Philippines to attempt to reflect the views of all ASEAN member states.”

In the statement, the foreign ministers condemned the attacks on Myanmar’s security forces and “all acts of violence which resulted in loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people”.

More than 400 people have died and 430,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine, where an Aug. 25 attack on military and police outposts by Rohingya militants provoked a military offensive the United Nations calls “ethic cleansing”.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Praveen Menon in Kuala Lumpur, Manuel Mogato in the Philippines; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)