Cyber security among key aspects in future planning of FPDA, says Hishammuddin

KUALA LUMPUR: A focus on cyber security, joint exercises and 5th generation assets are among key aspects that should be included in the future planning of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The Defence Minister said nations are facing a new global landscape with their own set of challenges post Covid-19 pandemic.

"I believe the stock-take conducted by FPDA member nations is not only based on our successes in the last 50 years but hopefully outlined the way forward for the next five decades," he told a press conference after attending the 11th FPDA Defence Ministers' meeting (FDMM) and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the FPDA on Thursday (Oct 21).

He added that the challenges faced today should be viewed upon as opportunities.

"It is an opportunity for FPDA member nations to forge closer ties, to be more resilient, more proactive as well as agile and flexible in tune with the changing landscape as it unfolds,” said Hishammuddin.

He added that cyber security remains a key priority that has to be introduced in future planning of the FPDA along with current 5th generation assets as well as joint exercises that have been successful in the past.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia has successfully hosted the 11th FPDA Defence Ministers’ Meeting with the Minister of Defence Singapore, Dr Ng Eng Hen; Minister for Defence Australia, Peter Dutton; Minister of Defence New Zealand, Peeni Henare, and Minister for Armed Forces United Kingdom, James Heappey, which was held virtually.

"The convening of the meeting is an affirmation of continued commitment by all five nations to the FPDA.

"During the meeting, all leaders expressed satisfaction with the outcomes which included an exchange of views on emerging security challenges in the context of regional defence cooperation, discussion on FPDA exercises and activities, a 10-year plan for exercises from 2022 to 2031, and the adoption of the 50th FPDA Anniversary Stock-Take," he said.

Guided by the 3R principles of Remit, Relevant and Reassurance, the 50th FPDA Stock-Take provides future direction on the FPDA’s strategic priorities, organisational processes and structure, and activity plans, Hishammuddin said.

"Today, the Defence Ministers agreed for the FPDA to focus on continuing high-end warfighting serials with the introduction of 5th generation assets; enhancing the mission of counter-terrorism and maritime security of non-traditional domains; introducing cyber security progressively into FPDA exercises; and continuing the observership programme as a way to enhance transparency and reassurance with regional partners.

"The meeting also commended partner-nations’ commitment for the successful conduct of the exercises, namely Bersama Shield in April 2021, Suman Warrior in July 2021, and Bersama Gold in October 2021. The recently concluded Bersama Gold 2021 held this month was exclusively designed to mark the 50th FPDA Anniversary, and is also the first contactless FPDA Field Training Exercise (FTX) executed in a Covid-19 safe environment," he added.

“The continuation of the exercise during a pandemic is proof that the FPDA remains resilient and is able to adapt and overcome any challenges," said Hishammuddin.

Hishammuddin also said that Malaysia is committed to supporting the arrangements, and looks forward to the FPDA resuming full activities and exercises once the Covid-19 pandemic finally stabilises.

"To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the FPDA, Malaysia is honoured to host the 50th FPDA Anniversary celebration which marks another historical milestone for the Arrangements, with a launching of the 50th FPDA Video, and memorabilia consisting of a 50th Anniversary book, coin, and stamps, ending with a commemorative FlyPast at the Subang Air Base portraying FPDA’s unity and cohesion over the last 50 years," he said.

Hishammuddin said FPDA Defence Ministers also had the opportunity to call upon Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"The joint courtesy call was the first ever done in the history of the FPDA. To reaffirm the partner nations’ commitment towards the Arrangement, the FPDA Defence Ministers also signed the 11th FDMM Joint Declaration to symbolise and commemorate our enduring partnership within a constructive regional security architecture," he said.

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