Malaysia’s position on AUKUS – A question of stagnation or pragmatism?
By Izzah Ibrahim
Over the almost two years since its historic announcement, the AUKUS agreement has elicited a broad range of regional responses. While some countries have welcomed the strategic alignment that AUKUS brings, others share concerns over increased regional instability, the emergence of antagonistic security blocs, and nuclear proliferation.
To guarantee the security that the pact promises, Australia and its fellow AUKUS partners will need to understand the region’s perspectives.
This series is designed to provide insight into regional responses to AUKUS, two years on. It will delve into the concerns, qualms, and avenues for opportunity in seven Indo-Pacific countries, through the eyes of regional authors.
The sixth report in this series by ISIS analyst Izzah Ibrahim explores Malaysia’s responses to the defence pact.
Malaysia has a complicated relationship with AUKUS. Despite its initial vocal objection to the pact and lasting concerns about its potential to exacerbate regional tensions, AUKUS has not caused a dramatic shift in relations. Instead, Malaysia has continued to work with Australia, the UK, and the US as important strategic partners.
While it may seem that Malaysia has not followed through on its condemnation, its response is complicated by a complex domestic political climate and an increasingly tense geopolitical environment.
Given Malaysia’s more pragmatic approach, its official opposition should not stop it from engaging in AUKUS’ future opportunities. In fact, the Southeast Asian nation could play a role in streamlining the region’s mixed responses into an ASEAN-favoured approach.