The relationship between Malaysian and Philippine has established since Independence Day of both country. Since than, both country has established diplomatic relations. The relations through out the past four decades could be categorized into three state; crisis, deteriorated and good. The categories of relations between both countries were influenced by many factors such as leadership, regional conflict and stability. For instance, once the concept of Federation of Malaysia was proposed on 27 May 1961 with the incorporation of North Borneo, the relations between both countries was in deteriorated state. The Philippines had protested the idea of "greater Malaya" and interpreted it as an expansion of new a form of neo-colonism.

Among the issues, the Sabah issue is consider most complicated and to some extend had given great impact on the Malaysia-Philippine relations especially in the 60s compared to other issues. The Sabah issue was at its highest peak between 1962 to 1968. Since then the Sabah issue had been festering from time to time mainly due to the Philippines refusal to drop its official claim over Sabah. The relationship became more complicated in 1980s with the Philippines allegation that Malaysia supported the Muslim separatist movements or rebellion in the Southern Provinces. Various efforts had been taken by both countries to assist in peaceful settlement of those issues. The Foreign Minister of Malaysia, and Philippine had met and discussed the matter (Sabah issue), May 1963 (Tokyo), and July 1963 (Manila). However not much promising result was achieved except that a declaration of Manila Accord on 5 August 1963 was made and Summit Meeting in Tokyo in June 1964.

Other than that, both governments have established bilateral security relation as tool to improve the relationship and to search for better solution towards the problem. To discuss the topic of enhancing bilateral security relation, the paper will discuss five main topics. They are the history of relationship from 1960 till 2010, the aim of foreign policy and challenges, bilateral security relation, and the suggestion on how to enhancing the current bilateral security relation. 


Malaysia and Philippine had established diplomatic relations since October 1959. President Garcia together with Tunku Abdul Rahman had formed the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) in 1961. With the incorporation of North Borneo into Malaysia became reality, the relations between Malaysia and Philippine deteriorated particularly between 1962 to 1969. This issue had led to the Manila Summit in July 1963. After the Manila Summit, the Philippines still stressed for its claims even though the United Nation Secretary General, U Thant had made his assessment that the people of North Borneo had joined the new Federation of their own free will and accord.

In 1964, President Johnson asked Robert Kennedy to mediate the disputes between both nations . However, there was not much progress in improving the relations in that year. On 10 February 1964, President Macapagal met Tunku Abdul Rahman in Phnom Penh to discuss future relations and Sabah issue. Even though the talk was a failure, the relations between both countries tended to improve with the establishment of consular relation with each other on 18 May 1964. In 1965, the relations have changed drastically positive. Factors that caused the changes are Macapagal lost the power, the emergence of President Marcos and the establishment of ASEAN in 1967 to promote regional cooperation among its members.

President Marcos initial step is to resume diplomatic ties with Malaysia. So on 3 June 1966, Philippine-Malaysia diplomatic relations was re-established. To foster further the relations, both countries agreed to abide by the Manila Accord for peaceful settlement of Sabah claim. Later, both countries decided to reactivate and revitalize ASA. The re-established relationship played major roles in improving relationship especially in economic development in both countries. On 1 September 1967, the Philippines and Malaysia signed the Anti-Smuggling Agreement in Kuala Lumpur. At leader level, in December 1967 Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak visited Philippine and suggested that ASA should be enlarged with the incorporation of Indonesia and Singapore as its members. Therefore, in 1967 ASEAN was established.

In January 1968, President Marcos made an official visit to Malaysia. The aim of Marcos visit to Malaysia is to confirm the end of Philippine claim over Sabah and discussed anti smuggling cooperation. However, a month after that, Malaysia-Philippine relations erupted and entered a new phase with the revelation of the Corregidor Affair. Both countries had engaged in trouble encounter and exchange of words over that affair. In April 1968, Malaysia-Philippine relations reached into crisis. The Philippines intention to sabotage Sabah worried Malaysia. As the crisis became serious, the Philippines had signaled its intention to go to war over Sabah. There were nearly skirmishing between both security forces in 1968. However, the Philippine President insisted that those issues should go through "peace settlement". He had instructed the Philippine ambassador to the United States to press for "possible of settling the Sabah issue ". Malaysia had shown positive response to the Philippines proposal. Malaysian Prime Minister pointed out that, "the two countries ought to settle their differences quickly and work together against their common enemy-communism ". Therefore, a talk on the subject was held in Bangkok in June-July 1968, but sadly, the talks failed to come out with any common consensus.

At the end of 1968, the relation between both countries was at its lowest ebbs. The possibility for both countries engaged in war was great. It was reported that large and heavy military forces had been placed in areas near Sabah. However, the diplomatic relations between both countries was resumed on 16 December 1969 during the ASEAN Foreign Minister Meeting held at Cameron Highland. The issue of Philippine claim over Sabah continued to sour the relations between Malaysia and Philippine throughout 1970s. However, relations in the 70s were much better as compared with that in the 60s. This was mainly due to the changes in political environment in the region.

The relations became better in 1977. During ASEAN Head of Government Met in Kuala Lumpur in 1977, President Marcos announced that he would initiate action to drop Philippine claim over Sabah. Since then the issue of the claim did not re-surface again. In 1981, the Sabah State government urged the Federal Government to cease diplomatic relations with the Philippines due to accusation involvement in Moro. However, the Federal Government did not pursue the matter further, since both countries had good regional cooperation and diplomatic ties. The positive movement was stop by sudden, when President Marcos was toppled by "people power” in 1986.

President Aquino, the new President in 1986 had tried to resolve the Sabah issue in 1987 when she urged Congress to drop the claim. However, her attempt failed. Since then the status quo of the claim remains unchanged. Bilateral relations had improved considerably with the state visit by President Ramos to Malaysia in the early 1993. It was the first state visit by a Philippine President since 1968. This visit also marked the birth of Philippine Joint Commission. The Commission is a committee consisting of both governmental officials to deal and discuss bilateral problem and cooperation particularly economic co-operation. The relations between both countries improved further in 1994 when Malaysia Prime Minister led a trade delegation to Philippine. Besides improving the relations, both countries signed a defence pact for join training, exchange of expert and cross border patrol agreement.

Up to 1997, the relations could be considered as constructive even though the Sabah issue is still unresolved. The issue had been left dormant for the time being. Could both countries go to war for Sabah issue? According to Mahathir, "not think the Philippine is going to war with us over Sabah" . Malaysia-Philippine relations however had declined in the post Ramos period. This was mainly due to President Estrada’s comments and critiques over the sacking of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1998. This had caused the delay of the quarterly meeting on common border issues . In the early 2001, President Estrada was ousted by people revolution over allegation of corruption. Vice President Macapagal Arroyo took the Presidency and both country start the new dimension of relationship.

In 2007, during the burial ceremonial of the Malaysia first lady, Datin Sri Endon Mahmood, President Macapagal Arroyo had pay a respect visit. The lady had witness the ceremonial and head down until it completed. It gives most significance impact in the both relationship positively. On 3 Feb 2010, again the International Monitoring Team which lead by Malaysian Army General had given a responsibilities due to southern Philippines problems. Both events had pictured that relationship between Malaysia and Philippine futurely positive and in great understanding and respect.


To study bilateral security relation for both country, the paper have to look on Foreign policy first because defence policy and bilateral security relations is under foreign policy. The paper will look on foreign policy aim and means to achieving the aims. Malaysia foreign policy formulated just after independent in 1957 by the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putera Al- Haj. The historically factors such as colonisation and the important outcome which occurred during the period has given very significance impact towards Malaysia foreign policy. They have three important outcomes that is the confrontation with Indonesia in 1963, the argument about Sabah belonging with Philippines in the same year and the separation of Singapore in 1965. The government bodies have decided the aim of Malaysia foreign policy. They are to be known as an independence state with own government and sovereignty. Second is to gain the security for the people and willing to defend the nation from any aggressor and lastly is to have good relationship with the neighboring country in order to upgrade the mutual understanding.

After 52 years of independence, Malaysia still faces problems with the neighbours, some of them have been solve accordingly, and there are few unsolved and critical but manage it. Because of the Malaysia intention to have good relationship with her neighbors that become one of the aims of foreign policy, Malaysia has to undergone some major changes in her policy formulation and implementation, particularly in dealing with ASEAN countries. Base on the ASEAN spirit and positive concept such as Prosper Thy Neighbor, Malaysia manage to settle differences, misunderstanding, and problem with her neighbors diplomatically. In the case of Philippine, both countries enjoy a healthy bilateral relations based on mutual respect in the spirit of good neighborliness. The warm and cordial relations was sustained through constant exchanges of visits at all level from the Prime Minister to people to people contacts between both countries. The leadership of both countries has also taken efforts to picture and enhance good relationship. For example is a funeral visit by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the first lady burial ceremony in Putrajaya. She has been there until the end of the ceremony. Aroyo sympathy and head down, it give a great significant impact on both country relationships.

Other than that is government-to-government decision such giving a trust to International Monitoring Team in Mindanao, which lead by Malaysia Army General. How ever, there are some problems that remained unsolved and both countries are not willing to withdraw their claims especially on Sabah and the immigrant’s issues. These unresolved problems it assumed will prolonge and become more complicated as goes along. However, with spirit of ASEAN, and good leadership, both countries are willing to have a good relation without discussing the issues now. Therefore, under defence policy, both countries have established an agreement to have bilateral security relations in order to avoid worst-case scenario.


Philippine foreign policy in the 21st century has two primary goals. First is the pursuit of national security through mobilization of resources for economic and social development . Second is the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW), whose regular remittances keep the Philippine economy afloat.

By looking at the Philippine foreign policy goals, we can assume what is their focus. To have a good relationship with the neighbors is not on of the aims or goals. Therefore, to suit both intentions is quite difficult because each country look at different matters. However, the term of relations with the neigbours appear in the overall framework of the contemporary Philippine foreign policy. There are is to pursuit “development diplomacy,” as a concept that refers to a state’s overall efforts to employ external relations to improve both its domestic economic welfare and its position in the world. In policy terms, the strategy involves using the foreign ministry and diplomatic posts to achieve national development objectives, and, ultimately, economic security. Development diplomacy revolves around eight major tasks that range from trade promotion to active economic intelligence abroad. The basic building block of development diplomacy is the Philippines’ bilateral relations with over 170 states. Within this framework, the government seeks to open and nurture market access for its exports, attract foreign investors and tourists and secure financing in the form of ODA grants and loans.


As mention earlier, Malaysia and Philippine had established diplomatic relations since October 1959. Even both countries do have unresolved issues but they are managed accordingly. On spirit of ASEAN and the aim of both foreign policies, the relationship continued in many ways and one of that is bilateral security relation as a tool or mechanism to strengthening the relationship. The scope of bilateral relation has over the years expanded into other areas. Relation in term of cooperation in the fields of culture, education, tourism, science and technology has yielded...

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