KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Thailand agree that it is crucial for both countries to maintain and enhance close defence relations at all levels to avoid the exploitation of common borders by acts of terror and violent extremists.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that in talks with Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon at the Defence Ministry on Thursday (May 26), they had deliberated over issues of common interest, which further strengthened the existing defence cooperation between Malaysia and Thailand.
"We agreed that it was crucial for us to maintain and enhance our close defence relations at all levels to avoid the exploitation of our common borders by acts of terror
and violent extremists," the Senior Minister said in a statement Thursday.
Hishammuddin added that the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Thai Army have also agreed to build two new Coordinated Border Posts (CBP) to combat transnational crime and smuggling.
"The new posts are expected to be completed in 2022.
"Military-to-military cooperation between the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Thai Armed Forces will be increased in the areas of training, courses and joint exercises," he said.
He said Gen Prawit was highly supportive of Malaysia's proposal to elevate defence cooperation in the Melaka
Straits Patrol (MSP) to a Quadrilateral Ministerial Meeting with the participation of the Defence Ministers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
"This would be a valuable opportunity for the leaders to exchange views while providing guidance towards the future operationalisation of MSP.
"We look forward to Thailand hosting the inaugural MSP
Quadrilateral Ministerial Meeting," Hishammuddin said.
According to him, they also discussed food security and the impact of supply chain disruptions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We also agreed for our relevant agencies and ministries to enhance cooperation and continuously strengthen Malaysia and Thailand's food security to remain stable under all circumstances,” he said.
Hishammuddin said the discussion also touched, among others, on the development of several key infrastructure projects at the border area, namely the road alignment linking the Bukit Kayu Hitam (BKH) - Sadao Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) complexes; International Friendship Bridges; and the construction and maintenance of a single barrier at the Bukit Kayu Hitam/Dannok common border.
Recognising the important contribution defence industries have on delivering military readiness, Hishammuddin said he has instructed Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Muez Abd Aziz to lead a delegation to Thailand
to increase cooperation and synergy, therefore boosting regional defence production capabilities.
"Outcomes of the issues discussed that require inter-ministerial and/or inter-agency cooperation will be conveyed in the next Cabinet meeting," he said.
Earlier Thursday, Gen Prawit and his delegation arrived at the Wisma Pertahanan for their first courtesy call since the Covid-19 pandemic began.