By Aini Raudhah Roslam – Strategic Analysis and Security Student UKM
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 Oct. 2011 - A Conference on “South China Sea Disputes: The Road to Peace, Stability and Development” ended in embarrassment for the organisers here yesterday when one of the participants disputed the announcement of a Kuala Lumpur Declaration being made by the conference.
One of the participants a UKM doctorate student, DatukRuhanie Ahmad, a former member of parliament protested the concluding remarks by the Director of The Centre for Asian Strategic Studies (CASS), India, A.M. Mahapatrathat participants at the conference are “of the opinion that the military build-up by China can pose substantial threat to the region.”
Datuk Ruhanie accused Mahapatra of being unethical and being disrespectful of the participants. “This is not about whether we agree or disagree; this is about principles and ethics,”Datuk Ruhanie said before storming out of the conference.
The one day conference was organised by CASSin association with the Institute of ASEAN Studies and Global Affairs (INSPAG), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Malaysia.
The conference was organised with the aim of gathering the best insights from scholars and experts in the field of strategic studies specialising in the South China Sea issue especially on the overlapping territorial claims over the Spratly and Paracel Islands by China and four Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia.
The prolonged issue had become one of the core issues in Sino-Malaysian relations and thus attracted participants from various backgrounds related to the field of diplomacy and international relations.
A total of 12 panelists from Malaysia, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam were invited to share their knowledge and insights with participants. They comprised of academicians, foreign ministry officials as well as naval personnel.
Two academicians from UKM, Prof Dr KS Nathan, Director of Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) was the moderator for the morning session whileDrKuik Cheng Chwee, alecturer at the School of History, Politics and International Studies (PPSPS) of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSSK) was one of the speakers in the afternoon session.
The one day conference was opened by deputy defence minister, Datuk Dr. Abdul Latiff bin Ahmad.