PUTRAJAYA: Regional states must ensure effective co-operation among themselves to secure stability and security in the area, including by allowing issues be resolved amicably in the manner that has been agreed by the countries involved, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
The Prime Minister - in sharing six “effective principles” which he believed would help strengthen regional defence and security co-operation with participants in the inaugural Putrajaya Forum - said it was important for countries to agree on a mechanism to resolve issues, be it through negotiations or dialogues.
“You can expect to face problems, which may not be deliberate in nature but are problems which by and large are legacy that has been unresolved over the years.
“But what is important is to agree upon a certain way and choose a mechanism to solve these problems. If you choose negotiation, you must have a spirit of compromise and give and take to find solution,” Najib said in his opening address at the forum themed “Emerging Regional Security Architecture” on Thursday.
Najib added that resolving issues through international mechanisms like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) would allow problems to be solved “in an elegant manner” between countries in this region.
“I would like to see Asean as a model on how we resolve problems between us,” the Prime Minister said, adding that another principle was that there should be various form of security architecture which could help form strong co-operation among Asean nations, such as bilateral arrangments between littoral states.
Citing the country’s experience as an example, Najib said Malaysia and its neighbours Thailand and Indonesia had formed border committees to look into border security issues and had co-operated with other littoral states on the issue of maritime security.
“It is also extremely important for multi-state engagement such as the newly established Asean Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) to fully recognise the role of each member state, be it rich or poor, big or small. In addition, the role of extra-regional stakeholders who have significant interests in the region cannot be ignored.
“We must also recognise that every member country are different in terms of history, culture and economic position. As such, the arrangements need to be flexible and take into account the different capabilities and policies of each country. Stakeholders must be allowed to contribute in accordance with their capacity,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said confidence building measures need to be placed to foster a deeper dialogue and understanding between partners because in absence of such understanding, benign action by one state could easily be misinterpreted in a very hostile manner by neighbours, leading to reluctance to co-operate or worse, to outright conflict.
“Institutional relationship should not be the only form of relationship formed in order to strengthen co-operation in security. Those on the ground should also get to know their counterpart in order to understand his thinking, so that when anything occurs, one will be able to relate to the situation and respond in a way that will not lead to greater tension,” he said.
Najib, who when served as Defence Minister had played a crucial role in the establishment of the ADMM-Plus, said that it should be the primary platform for which a more peaceful, harmonious and secure environment for Asean could be forged, especially in addressing transnational and non-traditional security challenges in the region.
The Putrajaya Forum is a defence and security forum aimed to promote solutions on regional defence and security issues through sharing of knowledge, perspectives and discussions. The three-day event is attended by 250 participants from Asean+B member countries, including the United States, India, China, Japan, Korea and Australia.
Did you find this article insightful?