KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — China’s latest intrusion into Malaysian airspace should have been met with the strongest diplomatic response, said a security veteran’s group that criticised the federal government for its delayed response yesterday.
Commenting on the reported intrusion of 16 People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) into the Malaysian Maritime Zone (MMZ), Patriot said this was only the latest in a long line of China’s intentional violation of Malaysia’s sovereign territory.
Patriot said the federal government appeared not to view the incident with the appropriate gravity as an official response was only issued after the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) publicised the intrusion on its own.
“Otherwise, a senior minister of the National Security Council or the foreign minister should have already issued a statement within hours of the incident to register our strongest protest.
“Along with the strong statement of protest, a marching order for China’s Ambassador should have been issued,” Patriot said in a statement.
Aside from the clear military threat, Patriot also noted that the 16 Chinese air force planes had flown between 23,000 and 27,000 feet, typically the altitude used for civil and commercial flights.
The group representing retired security personnel said this could have endangered any civilian aircraft in the vicinity, particularly those flying between KLIA and Kota Kinabalu as these would have intersected the flight path used.
“China has disregarded our nation’s sovereignty. It has intruded our airspace. Issuing the strongest protest and demanding an official apology is in order. Nothing less,” Patriot said.
The group said it should not matter that the country depended on China for some Covid-19 vaccines or that the East Asian nation was one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners, as the intrusion was both a violation of Malaysia’s sovereignty and national pride.
Yesterday, RMAF chief Gen Tan Sri Ackbal Abdul Samad confirmed that 16 PLAAF aircraft had flown close to the national airspace over the MMZ on May 31.
The air force marshal said the RMAF Air Defence Radar from the Air Defence Centre in Sarawak was able to detect the flight.
The RMAF had scrambled its own jets to intercept the aircraft, which were visually identified as PLAAF military transporters.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said last night that Malaysian would issue a diplomatic note to China regarding the intrusion.