KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, as Chair of Asean, has proposed the setting up of an Asean Peacekeeping Force to deal with security issues in the region said Defence Minister Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (pic).
"We have taken the initiative to propose the setting up of an Asean Peacekeeping Force under the auspice of the United Nations.
"The proposal had received positive reactions from Asean member states," he said when answering a question by Senator Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam (BN-Malacca) at Dewan Negara today.
He said the details of the regional peacekeeping force and its scope will be ironed out between Defense Ministers Plus (ADMM-Plus) and presented to Asean chair in Laos next year.
He said the peacekeeping force would only become a reality after receiving the backing of Asean members and approval from UN.
"This will send a clear message that Asean is united in achieving peace for the region while also addressing the threat of trans-border terrorists activities in a unified manner," he said.
At present, several Asean nations such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei are already working together to monitor the maritime routes at the Straits of Malacca and Sulu Sea.
Hishammuddin said the proposal comes in light of the agreement for greater cooperation between ASEAN militaries for humanitarian and disaster relief efforts under a Joint Declaration on the ASEAN Ready Group which was signed in Langkawi last month.
Earlier, Hishammuddin told lawmakers that the Islamic State was a new phenomenon and threat to the region.
He cited the example where several terrorists groups in Southern Philippines had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Later, at a press conference at Parliament lobby, Hishammuddin said steps have been taken to create awareness among armed forces personnel over the danger posed by IS.
However, he acknowledge that IS is relying heavily on social media to attract followers and it would be impossible to monitor every personnel.
On April 5, anti-terror units arrested 17 people, including two who recently returned from Syria, for allegedly plotting terror attacks here. Those detained included two army personnel.
On March 30, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported to have that police had so far detained 95 individuals suspected of being involved in IS, including 13 foreigners who were deported from Malaysia.