Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines to expand trilateral cooperation to bolster national security, says Hisham

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are set to expand their trilateral cooperation to bolster national security, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The Senior Minister (Security) said that the decision was made following meetings with his counterparts earlier in the day.

“Firstly, to expand the TCA (trilateral cooperation agreement) beyond its current defence sphere by effectively encompassing a multi-agency approach which should involve other relevant agencies and ministries.

“Secondly, to expedite the deployment of a permanent trilateral maritime officer. Third, to enhance intelligence exchange among the three countries to ensure future surveillance operations are more productive and accurate to curtail crime-terror nexus activities in the region.

“And finally, to enhance the strategic engagement and commitment among the three countries through continuous improvement of structure, communication and coordination of the TCA,” said the Defence Minister.

Hishammuddin was speaking at a press conference at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) and National Security Asia (Natsec) 2022 exhibition on Monday (March 28).

Also present were his counterparts Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and Secretary of National Defence of the Republic of the Philippines Delfin N. Lorenzana.

Hishammuddin said future plans for the TCA would include more joint cooperation with the country’s respective ground forces.

“This will be spearheaded by the respective chiefs of defence forces of our countries. At the moment the TCA is pretty lopsided with the navies and air forces,” he said.

Meetings between the ministers will also be institutionalised, with at least one meeting annually.

“The next one will be in the next few months and will most likely be in the Philippines,” he said.

“I would like to emphasise that the TCA has been, and is, crucial in acting as a deterrent against crime-terror acts in the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas. For example, proof of its success is the zero incident of kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR) reported in the year 2021.

“We have shown the world that strong regional security cooperation is the way forward,” he said.

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