Malaysia should be able to protect its own sovereignty against all aggressions, including disputed claims in the South China Sea.
Acting deputy chief of mission of the US embassy, Edgard D. Kagan, said it was of utmost importance for Malaysia to resolve its own issues.
“Malaysia should have self confidence in facing any sort of threat,” he said, with reference to disputed claims in the South China Sea.
“No one can defend Malaysia’s interests better than Malaysians. It is inappropriate for another country to say that it is up to us (United States) to defend them.”
Kagan told The Borneo Post at a leading hotel here yesterday that while the South China Sea was mired in several complicated issues, the US was not a claimant to those disputes.
“We don’t take a position on the sovereignty of the South China Sea. It has to be worked out by the claimants themselves.
“What we do take a position on is that it should be done peacefully, and countries should not use force to try and settle these things. We feel very strongly about that.”
While Kagan made it clear that the US will not interfere with the disputes, he did mention there was a push to preserve freedom of navigation. The US does have a strong interest in free navigation through the South China Sea because so much of world trade passes through it.
Kagan reassured that the US would continue to ‘provide support to our friends in Malaysia as well as in the region’.
“We are not unhappy with countries that have good relationship with China because we will be happy to see that as well. But at the same time, we do not want these countries to feel bullied, pushing them to do things they do not want to do.”
On another matter, Kagan said in the US, there were many university graduates who were willing to teach English in Sarawak.
There are now 11 American teachers’ assistants working in the rural areas in the state.
“We are pleasantly surprised how popular this programme is among Americans. We get lots of applications from American university graduates who are interested to come over, and those who are already here seemingly love it here, too.
“To me that is a huge success. The value of it is not just in the teaching of English. The real value lies in the fact that these Americans are in touch with the people in the rural areas, and in my view, there is no better way for people to know about the US than this programme.”
He reiterated that the long term benefit of the programme was not just for Malaysia but for the US as well.
“These people will go back, and they will have voices for international engagements. They will become the voice for US-Malaysia relations.”
Source : Peter Sibon & Rachel Lau@The Borneo Post Online