KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's defence ministry has denied a report that China has offered Malaysia advanced rocket launchers and a radar system to be based in Johor - the state closest to Singapore.
Deputy Defence Minister Johari Baharum told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Aug 10) that no such offer had been made.
"No such thing. No such discussion. So you ask the Malaysian Insight, ask them," he said when asked if the defence ministry is aware of such a deal which was first reported by the Malaysian Insight, a KL-based news website.
Malaysia's defence minister's office has also issued a denial to Channel NewsAsia. They said their ministry is unaware of any such deal.
According to the Malaysian Insight report, a high-level delegation led by President Xi Jinping's special envoy had reportedly made the offer on Wednesday (Aug 9), while in Malaysia for the launch of a railway project financed by China.
The news portal, quoting China-based sources, said up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple launch rocket system would be shipped to Malaysia in a purchase programme with a loan period of 50 years.
The report said the rocket system with a top range of 220km would be located in Johor along with a radar system.
But at the groundbreaking event of the East Coast Ral Link project on Wednesday, Malaysia's Treasury secretary-general said he was not aware of any such deal.
Speaking to reporters at the event, Irwan Serigar said: "This is the first time I'm hearing of this, from you."
In May, the Malaysian Insight reported that the Chinese president had raised concerns about the presence of Islamic State in the region, during Prime Minister Najib's visit to Beijing.
It was then that he reportedly offered to install air defence and radar systems as a joint initiative to combat terrorism and gather intelligence.
But defence analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to have questioned the accuracy of the report and the rationale behind placing rocket launchers in Johor, given there is already one at the Gemas Military camp north of the state's capital.
Dzirhan Mahadzir from Jane's Defence Weekly's Malaysia correspondent questioned the accuracy of the report quoting China based sources.
He said it is "very unlikely" Malaysia would position the rocket launch system in Johor as there are already two such units in Gemas where there is a military facility.
"As for radar system, there is already one in Bukit Ibam, Pahang and another in Bukit Lunchu Johor, why is there a need for another radar system?" he added.
Malaysia and Singapore have their own defence cooperation as well.
Both are in the Five Power Defence Arrangement - one of the world's oldest military partnerships - along with UK, Australia and New Zealand.