Photogenic ministers and a hungry one add a dash of humour to liven up annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit

(Clockwise from left) France's Minister of the Armed Services Sylvie Goulard, Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne and Japan's Minister of Defence Tomomi Inada, speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday (June 3).
(Clockwise from left) France's Minister of the Armed Services Sylvie Goulard, Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne and Japan's Minister of Defence Tomomi Inada, speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday (June 3). PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Defence ministers, scholars and executives discussed terrorism, the North Korea issue, and regional territorial tensions at the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday (June 3).

But a few ministers delivered some light-hearted moments all the same - all in good humour.

HUNGRY HISHAM


Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein speaking at a discussion on challenges facing the Asia-Pacific at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday (June 3).  PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI 

It is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is fasting just like millions of Muslims around the world.

But he is also one of the headline speakers at the Shangri-La Dialogue, and he was peppered with questions by his audience of hundreds of defence and security scholars, officials and industry executives on Saturday morning.

"You guys forget that I'm fasting," said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, a 55-year-old grandfather of two. The audience chuckled.

"But God says in times of need we can break fast," he said, holding up a small bottle of water in front of him. "This bottle of water looks very tempting!"

WOMEN POWER


Japan's Minister of Defence Tomomi Inada speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Japan's Defence Minister Tomomi Inada kicked off her speech with an observation that probably had not escaped her mostly male audience at the Shangri-La Hotel ballroom: All three panellists of the second plenary session of this year's Shangri-La Dialogue are women.

Besides Ms Inada, Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and France's Minister of the Armed Services Sylvie Goulard also took to the stage to speak on upholding the rules-based regional order.

"We share the same interests and we are all good looking," Ms Inada said, to laughter.

Ms Goulard demonstrated her own Gallic sense of humour when it was her turn to speak. After delivering the opening lines in fluent English, she told the audience she would switch to French for her speech proper.

Because, she quipped, "you'd be disappointed if I didn't".

 

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