KLUANG, Malaysia - Spying activities on Malaysia by its allies is a serious matter, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
This is because it can cause relations between Malaysia and these countries, long established based on trust and sincerity, to be tense.
"I believe if this (spying) is not fully explained, our long-established good relations can be adversely affected. Therefore, we need a full explanation on the extent of the spying activities and for what purpose.
"Tensions can be avoided if the allies involved uphold the trust and sincerity in their relations with Malaysia," he said.
Hishammuddin said this to reporters after attending a Deepavali open house hosted by Johor Unity and Human Resources Committee chairman R.Vidyanathan here on Sunday.
The spying issue arose following media reports on the claim made by intelligence informant Edward Snowden that the United States had 90 electronic surveillance facilities throughout the world, including at its embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
In light of this, Hishammuddin wanted a detailed explanation on the matter as such activities could threaten Malaysia's security and its other interests.
The US ambassador to Malaysia, Joseph Y. Yun, was reported to have explained on the spying claim to Wisma Putra.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Yun had stated that all surveillance activities by the United States throughout the world were specifically for security, to detect threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
On his trip to China last month, Hishammuddin said it was aimed at enhancing cooperation in the area of defence, especially through joint exercises, exchange programmes involving navy and other military officers, establishing cooperation between the defence industries of both countries, and efforts to combat terrorism and transnational crime.
Meanwhile in Yan, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said they would arrest any foreign diplomat found to be involved in spying activities.
"We will not hesitate because spying is a threat to the country's sovereignty. In the 1980s, we have arrested foreign diplomats involved in spying activities.
"We will do the same again if there is proof of such activities," he told newsmen after a briefing on the Sungai Limau by-election at the Yan police headquarters on Sunday.