Malaysia’s defence ministry has denied a report claiming that China has offered Putrajaya a radar system and rocket launchers that will be based in Johor.
“As far as the Malaysian Mindef (Ministry of Defence) is concerned, we are unaware of any offers made by China to Malaysia,” Mr Hadi Fazli Rusli, press secretary to Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, told TODAY on Thursday.
Treasury Secretary General Mohammad Irwan Serigar Abdullah similarly denied knowledge of the supposed deal when he was asked about it by a Reuters reporter.
“This is the first time I’m hearing it,” he was quoted saying by the wire agency on Thursday.
The remarks by the Malaysian officials came a day after The Malaysian Insight news website reported that a high-level delegation headed by President Xi Jinping’s special envoy had made the offer on Wednesday (Aug 9). The delegation was in Malaysia for the launch of the a major railway project.
“Up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) will be offered to Malaysia in a purchase programme with a loan period of 50 years,” The Malaysian Insight quoted an unidentified source saying. “The MLRS, which has a top range of 220km, will be located in Johor with a radar system.”
The report gave no further details on the size of the loan, the cost of the ordnance or the type of radar system being offered.
Malaysia had previously signed a deal to buy four Littoral Mission Ships from China — its most significant purchase with Beijing to date.
“The view from Beijing is that Malaysia is critical to peace and stability in the region,” a regional diplomat told The Malaysian Insight.
The AR3 multiple launch rocket system is an artillery rocket system developed by China’s Norinco specially for export. The military-today.com website describes the AR3, unveiled in 2011, as the most powerful MLRS in the world that launches conventional and guided missiles.
News of the possible deal came as China and Malaysia broke ground on the US$13 billion (S$17.7 billion) East Coast Rail Link project linking peninsular Malaysia’s east and west, the largest such project in the country and a major part of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure push.
Sino-Malaysian ties have been on the upsurge recently. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has defended his country’s strategic pivot towards China, saying that closer bilateral ties with Beijing as an inevitability as China is a major economic power. (todayonline)