KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is firmly committed to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) despite the emergence of the new Australia-United Kingdom-United States (Aukus) security pact, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
"Our position will not change despite our position in FPDA which has shown that we will continue with the advantages that we have when facing the geopolitical super powers in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” said the Defence Minister.
Hishammuddin added that Malaysia will make sure that the relations that have been formed over the last 50 years under the FPDA will continue to be defended.
He said this in response to a supplementary question from Wong Hon Wai (PH-Bukit Bendera) during Minister's Question Time.
Wong had asked the ministry to clarify what was the link between FPDA and Aukus since two of its current members, Australia and the United Kingdom, are also part of the Aukus alliance.
Aukus is a trilateral security agreement involving Australia, the UK and the US which was announced on Sept 15 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Wong also asked if Malaysia was an ally of Aukus or a subset of Aukus.
Hishammuddin said that Malaysia had made its views on Aukus clear, adding that facing geopolitical powers is a complex matter
"The advantage that we have is our relationship with 10 Asean countries and our respective ties with the FPDA (members),” he said.
"Our strong bilateral ties with certain countries also puts Malaysia in a position, that not only can balance the major powers in the region, but at the same time, remain respected by the two polar powers in the South China Sea," added Hishammuddin.
To the initial question, the Defence Minister said that the FPDA was established in 1971 and is the second oldest multilateral defence pact in the world.
It involves five countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
"The main goal behind the establishment of the FPDA was to defend the security of Malaysia and Singapore. Each member state is determined to consult with each other on the steps to be taken in the event of an external threat to Malaysia and Singapore," said Hishammuddin.
He added that since its inception, FPDA member states have forged close military cooperation through various exercises for the purpose of enhancing the capabilities of respective countries.
He also said that these exercises also ensure interoperability between armies of current members to face various threats.
Hishammuddin said that moving forward, all FPDA member countries voiced a commitment to focus on each other for develop three important elements.
He said these elements are fostering relationships between member states to meet its strategic commitments, increasing the capacity of member states in line with current security requirements as well as strengthening coordination between the respective armed forces.
"As such, the FPDA is still relevant and is still able to play a role in helping the country meet the security challenges in the future," said Hishammuddin.