Keen on joint patrols

Singapore, as part of its commitment to more collaboration in the fight against terrorism, is keen to support joint patrols in the Sulu Sea, which have been proposed by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"If Singapore is invited to join - they have made indications that they would like Singapore to join - Singapore will support. It is to our interest," said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in his media interview on Tuesday, ahead of Singapore Armed Forces Day, adding that Singapore will step up on efforts to share information and resources against terror in the region.

Defence ministers of the three countries had agreed to work together on marine patrols on the sidelines of of the 10th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting in Laos in May.

This is in response to heightened threats in the Sulu Sea, south-west of the Philippines, where militants loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have kidnapped sailors.

Dr Ng added that he has offered the use of the navy's Information Fusion Centre as a resource to these patrols.

Such collaborations are necessary as the problem of terrorism is too big to handle alone. "The problem is too big, too diverse. You can have provocateurs from many, many countries and you need the cooperation from the international community," Dr Ng said.

He also spoke on territorial tensions in the South China Sea, ahead of an expected July 12 ruling by an international tribunal on a dispute between the Philippines and China.

He stressed that any problems could affect the South China Sea's role as an international waterway and urged Asean and China to build trust between each other. He said Singapore was ready to help facilitate exchanges between Asean and the Chinese military.

Lester Hio

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Keen on joint patrols'. Print Edition | Subscribe