KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) has called for a clear action plan to be drafted by Perikatan Nasional government today, after 16 Chinese military transport planes were recently detected nearly trespassing into the local airspace.
The coalition’s Security Committee said the incident raises concern and also called for PN to organise a bipartisan discourse between lawmakers, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM).
“The PH Security Committee suggests the defence minister organise a special bipartisan briefing session involving the government and Opposition to explain the subsequent steps and current requirements of the ATM to prevent other trespasses.
“The government must present a clear action plan for the sake of the country,” the committee said in a statement.
The Committee said it remains a worry that even during the global Covid-19 pandemic, conventional security threats are still a thorn in their side.
“Hence, it is gravely important for the government to implement the ATM modernisation programme based on the Defence White Paper 2019 immediately,” it added.
The Committee also agreed with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) that such conduct by the Chinese aircrafts is a threat to air traffic safety, challenges the country’s sovereignty and affects international relations.
It said it will be writing in to Ismail Sabri to suggest the meeting between MPs and the Army and Air Force Chiefs to face the national sovereignty issue together.
In a separate statement, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in lauding the RMAF’s swift action, called for the Foreign Ministry to demand answers.
“I will press the Foreign Affairs Minister to immediately carry out his duty by asking for an explanation from the People’s Republic of China relating to this incident,” Anwar said.
Earlier today, the RMAF said it was forced to scramble lightweight jets after 16 Chinese military planes were detected hovering nearby Malaysian airspace after conducting what seemed like “suspicious activities” over the South China Sea.
It had said the planes flew within 60 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak, and had not contacted regional air traffic controllers despite being instructed several times.
China’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur has since said the planes conducted routine flight training and “strictly abided by” international law without violating airspace of other countries.
Malaysia’s Defence and Foreign Ministries have yet to issue any statements regarding the act.
RMAF said the planes, comprising Ilyushin il-76 and Xian Y-20 strategic transporters, had travelled in an “in-trail” tactical formation at altitudes of between 23,000 and 27,000 feet.
The planes were detected flying over waters which have recently become the subject of dispute between Asian nations such Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, with China unilaterally claiming stake over the controversial areas.