MANILA - Malaysia promised to play a big role in defusing tensions over the disputed seas in the region when it takes over the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chairmanship next year.
Malaysia’s The Star quoted Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying: “The South China Sea disputes and the intercession of outside interests makes maintaining the security and stability of the region more complex.”
“These possible causes of conflict require more than the diplomatic efforts of our governments to diffuse (sic) tensions,” he added.
The Philippines earlier urged the ASEAN to do its part in defusing tension over the West Philippine Sea, which is being claimed by 5 others, including China.
Among the members of ASEAN, the Philippines is the only one that has brought the dispute against China before an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Philippines and other ASEAN members have also called for a legally binding Code of Conduct that will govern travel and maritime security in the West Philippine Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea.
“It is a known fact that since the formation of Asean in 1967, there has not been any open conflicts among its member countries,” the Malaysian deputy minister said.
“The Asean way of resolving problems and crises through consensus and with mutual respect has gone a long way towards avoiding unnecessary conflicts and tensions,” he added.