CANBERRA: It’s crucial for Malaysia and Australia to work together, pooling their political and diplomatic resources, to uphold consistency in international law and promote fair play and mutual respect among nations, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Malaysian Prime Minister said Putrajaya and Canberra’s respective capabilities and attributes present numerous possibilities.

“Malaysia and Australia have high stakes in upholding the sanctity of international law,” said Anwar, who is also Finance Minister.

It is only by adhering to universally recognised sources of international law, whether it is the UN Charter or United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that the sharp edges of inter-state interactions can be kept within certain limits, he added.

“Nor should we be selective in our application of international law.”

“Unfortunately, the gut-wrenching tragedy that continues to unfold in the Gaza Strip has laid bare the self-serving nature of the much-vaunted rules-based order,” he lamented during his lecture at the 2024 Gareth Evans Oration entitled ‘Navigating Geopolitical Currents: Malaysia and Australia’s Pivotal Role in Asia Pacific’ at the Australian National University (ANU) here today.

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He said the differing responses by the West to human suffering defy reasoning.

“Why, for example, has the West been so vociferous, vehement and unequivocal in the condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine while remaining utterly silent on the relentless bloodletting inflicted on the innocent men, women and children of Gaza? Sure, there are some exceptions, but there are few and far between.”

He said the fact is much of the Western world has given the Israeli Occupation Forces a carte blanche in their murderous rampage on the Palestinians.

“When South Africa took Israel to the International Court of Justice under the Genocide Convention, some countries decried it as counterproductive. But what could be more consistent with any reasonable conception of a rules-based order than an appeal to those very rules before a panel of 17 judges?

He said as countries strive to build a more peaceful and economically vibrant region, “I believe it’s a fool’s errand to think that the ‘liberal international order’ and the inconsistencies in the application of principles, rules and norms will go unnoticed.”

“Nor should we descend into cynicism and declare that no country can ever be fully consistent in international affairs.”

Malaysia and Australia may not see the region and the world in identical terms, but the ultimate aims of both countries are the same, he said, adding that the specifics of strategies may diverge but both nations can still pursue parallel policies in promoting regional cooperation and integration.

“Ultimately, our shared objective should be to foster a region that is resilient to power shifts while preserving every country’s autonomy, regardless of size. We must invest in institutions that will enable us to adapt to change peacefully, without denying any nation of their rightful place in the global community,” said Anwar. - Bernama

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