SINGAPORE: The South China Sea issue remains a concern for Malaysia to this day, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
Malaysia, he said, will continue to work with Asean member states to intensify negotiations with China on the realisation of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.
He said this at a press conference held after the “Breakfast Talk: Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA)” event hosted by his Singaporean counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen on the sidelines of the 20th Shangri-la Dialogue here yesterday.
Mohamad said Malaysia continues to aspire to become a trusted partner and to connect with FPDA members to ensure peace and prosperity of the region.
The FPDA is a series of bilateral defence relationships between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
“Malaysia sees the need for the FPDA to maintain regional peace and stability through defence cooperation against pressing challenges on non-traditional security threats,” he added.
Mohamad said Malaysia is also proposing the FPDA as a pathway for greater strategic and defence cooperation in training and capacity building.
“Malaysia will work closely with FPDA members to pursue other cooperation in strengthening the defence industry, advancing shared technology, and conducting joint exercises,” he said.
He added that Malaysia looked forward to working with the four member nations to reaffirm commitments to collaborate in the conventional and non-conventional security domain and defence cooperation.
“Malaysia remains committed to the FPDA and will do the necessary to manifest such commitment,” said the minister, Bernama reported.
Mohamad said Malaysia will strengthen its position in the FPDA, among others, by having strategic communications with the other four members, and regular meetings between the defence ministers of member countries to discuss current and future global security dynamics.
He stressed that although the FPDA and its members enjoy close relationships with each other, “Malaysia will not be taking sides and insists on the position of a non-aligned state.”
Also present at the press conference were Dr Ng, Australia Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, New Zealand Defence Minister Andrew Little, and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace.
Separately, the Singapore Defence Ministry said during the breakfast, the ministers reaffirmed their nations’ commitment to the FPDA and acknowledged the significant progress that it has made since its inception.
“They discussed the importance of the FPDA as a constructive and peaceful arrangement, which has served as an anchor for regional security and stability,” it said in a statement.
The ministry said the ministers also agreed that the FPDA provided a valuable platform for member nations’ militaries to strengthen interoperability and enhance cooperation through regular exercises such as Exercise Bersama Shield and Exercise Bersama Lima.
The ministers further exchanged views on ways to enhance the FPDA’s relevance by strengthening the operational value of the exercises in conventional areas, and growing collaboration in non-conventional domains in the face of contemporary security challenges, it said.
Formed in 1971, the FPDA continues to play a key role in promoting regional cooperation and contributes constructively to the regional security architecture through the conduct of regular exercises, dialogues, and platforms for professional interactions, it added.