PETALING JAYA: One of the greatest challenges faced by countries in the Asia-Pacific region is their complex security dynamics, says Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
He said the region has the world’s fastest growing economies and the countries’ military expenditures and naval capabilities are rising as well.
“These facts reflect a bigger global security risk, especially when there is strong evidence of fierce competition over natural resources and overlapping claims on strategic hotspots.
“The competition in the South China Sea has undeniably fractured the status quo of regionalism and created new coalitions,” he said in his speech during the Shangri-La Dialogue titled “Asia’s Evolving Security Order and Its Challenges” in Singapore yesterday.
Mohamad noted that rivalry among the big powers will aggravate tensions in the South China Sea.
“As a result, there is a greater risk of naval ships and aircraft encounters which pose a possible clash that could spark major conflicts dragging Asean member states into them.
“One such issue is the South China Sea, which concerns the security and sustenance of many neighbouring nations,” he said.
Mohamad also called for tighter regional security operation to ensure countries remain safe and peaceful and in turn spur economic development.
“Within the defence sector, a stronger collaboration will increase our interoperability and capability in facing our common threats.
“For Malaysia, the nation’s well-being is founded on strong and friendly relations with other countries and its commitment to the multilateral system.
“Malaysia will continue with the principles of engagement and cooperation rather than isolationism and unilateral action,” he said.
He also warned that the uncertain relationship between the United States and China will remain as an explicit factor in shaping the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly that of South-East Asian countries.
He also warned of Non-Traditional Security risks and emerging trends impacting the Asian region.
“Maritime violence, terrorism and cybersecurity are main challenges that need to be addressed,” he said.