Malaysia remains concerned over South China Sea issue

Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan says Malaysia will continue to work with Asean member states to intensify negotiations with China on the realisation of the Code of Conduct for South China Sea. – EPA pic, June 3, 2023.

THE South China Sea issue remains a concern for Malaysia to this day, Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan said.

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 South China Sea.

Mohamad said this at a press conference held after “Breakfast Talk: Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA)” hosted by his Singaporean counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen on the sidelines of the 20th Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, today.

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.

FPDA is a series of bilateral defence relationships between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

“Malaysia views the need for FPDA to maintain regional peace and stability through defence cooperation against pressing challenges on non-traditional security threats,” said Mohamad.

He said Malaysia is proposing 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.

Mohamad said 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.

Mohamad said Malaysia will strengthen its position in FPDA, among others, having strategic communications with the other four members, and regular meetings between defence ministers of member countries to discuss current and future global security dynamics.

He said although FPDA and its members enjoy close relationship 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 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, Singapore Defence Ministry said during the breakfast, the ministers reaffirmed their nations’ commitment to the FPDA and acknowledged the significant progress that the FPDA 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. – Bernama, June 3, 2023.

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