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Safeguarding the Shared Maritime Domain Between Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia

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Picture by CSIS Indonesia

The online focus group discussion (FGD) analysed common maritime security challenges surrounding the shared maritime domain between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam located at in the southern end of the South China Sea. It was organized by CSIS Indonesia.

Speakers discussed the conditions that led to the assertion in the South China Sea, which led to tensions in the region, and the sentiments they expressed.

Ms. Sumathy Permal brought up the concern of having to deal with potentially grave maritime security challenges amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. She viewed some behaviors as alarming, specifically in the conduct of seismic surveys, the militia movement, the presence of the warships and the Coast Guards, as well as intrusion into Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Malaysia called for calm and commitment to peace and requested all claimants to respect the ongoing ASEAN processes while reiterating its sovereignty as guided by UNCLOS.

Dr. Do Thanh Hai discussed on the sinking of Vietnamese ships by China and the incident increased difficulties and strategic burden of keeping order and balance in the South China Sea. He posited that there is the risk of possible stand-offs between vessels while resources are poured into mitigating the impact of the pandemic.

Mr. Aristyo R. Darmawan expressed that Indonesia should anticipate and better prepare for challenges in its own maritime entitlements, especially its EEZ near the northern Natuna Islands.

The key takeaway from the discussion, it is crucial to find a balance between persistently and sufficiently responding, defending, and reaffirming the lawful rights at sea according to the 1982 UNCLOS. MIMA would like to thank CSIS Indonesia for this fruitful discussion.

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