Continued security cooperation among ASEAN countries is crucial in ensuring the region's stability and progress, said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the 5th Putrajaya Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 16 Apr.
The Putrajaya Forum is a biennial defence and security conference organised by the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, which brings together defence ministers, officials and academics to discuss defence and security issues.
Dr Ng spoke at the first plenary session on the topic of "Regional Security Crescendos and its Implication on Stability", where he described how the next decade will be marked by security challenges such as instability on the Korean Peninsula as well as the East and South China Seas, and terrorism.
He stressed the continued relevance of ASEAN and highlighted the key role of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus as a platform for defence and security in the region.
"ASEAN will have to step up to address the security challenges in our region. It is to our intimate interest to do so. The ADMM-Plus, in particular, is the most important defence and security platform for this region and we must redouble efforts to build its resilience and enhance its relevance."
Elaborating on the "3Cs" that that Singapore will focus on as the 2018 ADMM Chair, Dr Ng said that Singapore aims to enhance Counter-Terrorism (CT) cooperation; strengthen regional capability against Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) threats; and establish practical Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) and code for unplanned encounters at sea and in the air.
First, he noted Singapore has proposed a "3Rs" CT framework of "Resilience, Response and Recovery" to better tie regional CT initiatives together and improve coordination and synergy among the various countries.
Dr Ng added that the establishment of a virtual ASEAN network of CBR defence experts will deepen professional links, increase their CBR knowledge and techniques, and provide a channel for mutual assistance in the event of a regional CBR attack or disaster.
On establishing practical CBMs, he noted that all 18 ADMM-Plus navies agreed to adopt the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, or CUES, at the 12th ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Maritime Security in November 2017.
Reiterating his message for regional cooperation, Dr Ng concluded: "If we can work together to avoid the perils, then this region can continue to enjoy stability and progress for another generation."
During his visit to Malaysia, Dr Ng also met with Malaysian Minister of Defence Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and reaffirmed the long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and Malaysia.
Both ministers agreed to strengthen their countries' defence ties through more military interactions at all levels, as well as enhance practical cooperation to combat regional threats through multilateral fora such as the Shangri-la Dialogue, ADMM and ADMM-Plus.