Foreign relations and military
Main articles: Foreign relations of Malaysia and Malaysian Armed Forces
Najib Razak with Vladimir Putin.
A founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the country participates in many international organisations such as the United Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Developing 8 Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). It has chaired ASEAN, the OIC, and the NAM in the past. A former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Kuala Lumpur was the site of the first East Asia Summit in 2005.
Malaysia’s foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. The government attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the region. Historically the government has tried to portray Malaysia as a progressive Islamic nation while strengthening relations with other Islamic states. A strong tenet of Malaysia’s policy is national sovereignty and the right of a country to control its domestic affairs.
The policy towards territorial disputes by the government is one of pragmatism, with the government solving disputes in a number of ways, such as bringing the case to the International Court of Justice. The Spratly Islands are disputed by many states in the area, and a large portion of the South China Seais claimed by China. Unlike its neighbours of Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia historically avoided conflicts with China. However, after the enroachment of Chinese ships in Malaysian territorial waters, Malaysia has become active in condemning China. Brunei and Malaysia in 2009 announced an end to claims of each other’s land, and committed to resolve issues related to their maritime borders. The Philippines has a dormant claim to the eastern part of Sabah. Singapore’s land reclamation has caused tensions, and minor maritime and land border disputes exist with Indonesia.
Examples of the Malaysian Armed Forces weaponry assets. Clockwise from top right: Scorpène class submarine, PT-91M MBT tank,Malaysian Army paratrooper with M4, and Su-30MKM fighter aircraft.
Malaysia has never recognised Israel and has no diplomatic ties with it, and has called for the International Criminal Court to take action against Israel over their Gaza flotilla raid. Malaysia has stated it will only establish an official relations with Israel once a peace agreement with the State of Palestine been reached and called for both parties to find a quick resolution.Malaysian peacekeeping forces have contributed to many UN peacekeeping missions, such as in Congo, Iran–Iraq, Namibia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,Somalia, East Timor and Lebanon.
The Malaysian Armed Forces have three branches, the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Malaysian Army, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. There is no conscription, and the required age for voluntary military service is 18. The military uses 1.5% of the country’s GDP, and employs 1.23% of Malaysia’s manpower.
The Five Power Defence Arrangements is a regional security initiative which has been in place for almost 40 years. It involves joint military exercises held among Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Joint exercises and war games also been held with Brunei,China, Indonesia and the United States. Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have agreed to host joint security force exercises to secure their maritime border and tackle issues such as illegal immigration,piracy and smuggling. There are fears that extremist militants activities in the Muslim areas of the southern Philippines and southern Thailand would spill over into Malaysia.