Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Zaqy Mohamad delivered the keynote address this morning at the 9th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) Sherpa Meeting, ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue planned later this year. Addressing an audience of senior defence officials, military officers and academics, Mr Zaqy spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the multilateral system. He highlighted that experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that no country can tackle and overcome this global health crisis alone, and emphasised the importance of all countries working together to address public health crises and other transnational security threats. Amidst these common challenges, Mr Zaqy said that multilateral dialogue and cooperation have become even more salient today than before – defence establishments can play a role to strengthen existing multilateral frameworks, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus, and work out protocols with national authorities for the gradual and safe resumption of defence and military interactions.
The SLD Sherpa Meeting strengthens the SLD by providing an inter-sessional platform for delegates to engage in frank discussions on current defence and security issues. This year's SLD Sherpa Meeting is held from 18 to 19 January in a hybrid format, with 26 country delegations and the European Union. Singapore-based delegates are attending the meeting at the Fullerton Hotel, and the international delegates are attending the dialogue virtually. Widely recognised as Asia-Pacific's foremost defence and security summit, the SLD brings together defence ministers, senior officials and security experts to exchange views on key issues that shape the defence and security landscape of the region.
Participants that attend the SLD Sherpa Meeting physically are required to abide by strict health and safety measures put in place for COVID-19. These include daily pre-event Antigen Rapid Testing to ensure that all physical attendees are free from infection. Stringent precautionary measures such as safe distancing, mask-wearing, temperature-taking, cohorting and regular disinfection of common areas are enforced. Plexi-glass dividers are also deployed at the conference and meal areas.