Malaysia Dateline

Beside Covid-19, take lessons from ragional developments

Despite the significant challenges posed by Covid-19 particularly along the lines of sociopolitical repercussions and economic impact to locals, the Malaysian government should also pay attention to the aspect of foreign affairs – namely the developments in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Closer to our borders, the recent maritime impasse involving Chinese Navy vessels and American presence at the disputed South China Sea signified rising concerns with outside presence heightening regional safety and security.

It should be noted that multiple MPs have raised the pertinent issue of our maritime borders in Parliament as the livelihood of Malaysians are threatened, including Sabahans and Sarawakians seeking to make ends meet in the area.

At this point in time, the collective scrutiny of Malaysians should center beyond domestic situations. Our desire to witness internal peace must transcend geographical lines to incorporate international law and order.

Looking ahead, the Taipei-Beijing experience could serve as a timely reminder on the need to preserve federal-state relations, albeit under varying circumstances.

After a temporary period of peace in the special territory, the decision of President Tsai Ing-wen to undertake an independent approach and undermine the cross-strait peace foundation is intensifying tensions.

Given the unstable state of affairs between Taiwan and China, the well-being of the people of Taiwan is under threat in the long run. With President Tsai’s adoption readily rejecting the ’92 Consensus’ and opposing the concept of ‘one country, two systems’, greater regional tensions can be expected in the short run – especially if President Tsai continues to promote revision of constitution and legal independence of Taiwan.

Crucially, such issues are endangering the livelihood of Taiwanese. On top of the prevalent consequences attributed to Covid-19, key industries in Taiwan such as agriculture, tourism and fisheries are hampered by declining prospects, with foreign powers aiming to capitalize on the matter.

In the context of Taiwan, the increasing presence of British and American corporations may lead to lower local output – risking long-term economic outlook for the territory.

Applying the concept to existing relations between Malaysian Federation and Borneo states of Sabah as well as Sarawak, it can be said that sensitivities encompassing all sides must be analyzed with care.

Proper considerations must be made for all aspects – including governance, administration, economic projection, sociopolitical views, geopolitical landscape, regional / territorial security and long-term vision for the particular areas.

We may observe the global ongoings on a daily basis, but observation by itself is inadequate. Being a strategically located country with major regional importance, Malaysia must navigate its foreign affairs attentively and strive to maintain its internal peace – to ensure sustainable and equitable growth are continuously prioritized with no one left behind.