John Howard Should Remember That ASEAN Waters Are Not Australian Waters To Establish A Maritime Surveillance Zone Of 1,000 Nautical Miles Security Net Allowing Unauthorised Unilateral Actions

Opening Speech
by Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Australian Prime Minister John Howard should be reminded that ASEAN waters are not Australian waters where Australia is free to establish a maritime surveillance zone of 1,000 nautical miles. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had expressed concern that such security net may result in unauthorized unilateral actions. This 1,000 nautical mile security net would stretch beyond Indonesia and to allow Australian navy unimpeded and free access could violate ASEAN countriesí sovereignty. 

John Howardís intention is clearly to allow Australian naval ships to inspect ships bound for Australia. The logic is debatable as at that distance of 1,000 nautical miles it is hard to establish any shipís final destination, which implies that practically any ship in ASEAN waters can be boarded and checked by Australian naval ships. 

Allowing Australian naval forces freedom to police ASEAN waters without the consent or consultation with ASEAN nations sets a dangerous precedent.  Not only is such policing repugnant to the nationís sovereignty but also contrary to ASEANís goal as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).  

DAP therefore strongly opposes Australiaís proposal of a security net right inside ASEAN waters. DAP expresses support for all actions by the Malaysian government to ensure that full consent and consultation from ASEAN countries are obtained first.


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General