Cambodia is not a claimant state to the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and, as such, it can afford to have its own stance towards the issue.
In stating this, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said: “Cambodia has to protect its own interest in some matters and its pro-China stance on the South China Sea dispute is understandable.
“We should not be judging Cambodia’s stance from afar although a united front on this dispute would be preferable. It depends on the claimants and how they manage to convince Cambodia to back their cause,” he said.
There are at least four claimant states to the disputed territories, which are reportedly rich in natural resources, especially oil and gas.
Dr Mahathir said that some claimants were much closer to the dispute because of their proximity and, as such, had much stronger views compared with Cambodia.
Although ASEAN generally operates on the principle, spirit and concept of consensus, when it comes to national interest, individualism will take over and this has to be accepted and understood by fellow members, the Malaysian premier pointed out.