KUALA LUMPUR: Next year's Defence Services Asia (DSA) and National Security Asia (NATSEC) 2022 exhibitions will be both an in-person and online affair.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein lauded the organisers for using the "careful and safe approach" by making the exhibitions a hybrid one, which he calls a "historic first".
"Undeniably, we are living in unprecedented times and uncertainty is the new normal brought forward by the Covid-19 pandemic nearly two years ago.
"We have seen the pandemic bring governments down to their knees regardless of their status, size, wealth, security agencies and militaries.
"Even today, new variants of the virus are emerging such as the Omicron variant of concern (VOC) that have again forced nations into a heightened state of alert just as we thought we could reopen safely.
"We had to re-evaluate and I believe the same for the Home Ministry, our priorities especially on how we approach defence and security assets, looking at the constraints that we face post Covid-19," he said.
"These challenges were the reason why DSA should proceed next year, within the new normal, as it would strengthen military and diplomatic relations," he added.
"In my experience, there can be no substitute for face-to-face meetings as there is only so much you can achieve with virtual conferencing.
"The only way forward is to come to terms with the reality that the virus is here to stay and we must learn to live with it," he said when launching the events with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
In his opening speech, Hamzah said that it was not easy to organise an international event during the pandemic.
"However I am confident we can put on another great event next year. The show must go on.
"During a pandemic such as Covid 19, global instability increases and gives rise to many complex security threats such as amplified risk factors for radicalisation and violent extremism, cyberattacks and border security issues.
"In today's global village, we simply cannot afford to deal with these challenges within our own silos, and modern security challenges demand strategic cooperation at the global level," he said.
The DSA and NATSEC 2022 are scheduled to be held at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MiTEC) from March 28 to 31, after a hiatus for its 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"For the first time ever since the inception of the series, DSA and NATSEC will be presented as a hybrid event.
"In keeping with the new norms, advancement of technological and connectivity, DSA 2022 and NATSEC Asia 2022 will be complemented by a virtual platform as a value-added component to help participants access the contents before, during and after the show.
"Over 1,170 companies from the global defence and security sector from more than 54 countries and regions are expected, as well as 37 international pavilions, some 350 VIP delegations from over 45 countries and 40,000 visitors from 50 countries/regions.
"To-date, 70% of the space booking at DSA 2022 and NATSEC Asia 2022 has been confirmed," DSA said in a statement.