Singapore, Britain sign MOU to boost cooperation in cybersecurity

British National Security advisor Sir Nigel Kim Darroch (left) and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore David Koh (right) exchange documents after signing the MOU.
British National Security advisor Sir Nigel Kim Darroch (left) and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore David Koh (right) exchange documents after signing the MOU.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Britain on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cyber security which will boost cooperation in areas ranging from cyber research, incident responses and talent development.

Under the MOU on Cyber Security Cooperation, both countries pledged to double their joint spending in research and development from S$2.5 million to S$5.1 million.

They will also step up collaboration in enhancing cyber security incident responses, talent development and awareness building, and the sharing of best practices on systems protection as well as security products and services.

The MOU was signed by Singapore's Cyber Security Agency (CSA) Chief Executive David Koh and Britain's National Security Adviser, Sir Nigel Kim Darroch. It built on the agreements made during Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to Britain last year.

The signing took place on the second and final day of British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Singapore. Mr Cameron and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the signing of the MOU. 

Mr Lee expressed the country's interest to deepen cooperation with Britain on this area. "The UK has well-known expertise in this field and we hope to share our experiences in this increasingly important area," he said.

At a joint press conference after the signing, the two leaders spoke about their discussion following their meeting at the Istana. 

Mr Cameron said both countries also agreed to step up collaboration in the fight against maritime piracy and terrorism.

The British leader said his country would provide assistance to the Singapore navy as it works with partners in the region to tackle the threat of maritime piracy.

"With 15 per cent of UK shipping passing through the Malacca and Singapore Straits, it is in our national interest to work with Singapore on this," Mr Cameron told reporters.

He said this cooperation comes alongside Britain's commitment announced earlier this month to continue to spend 2 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product on defence for the next five years. As part of that commitment, Britain will be building new war ships and submarines for the Royal Navy, including the two largest aircraft carriers the Navy has ever put to sea, he added.

Both countries also agreed to explore ways to work together in the global fight against terrorism and share experiences on countering the rise of extremist ideologies spread by groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Mr Cameron said he would discuss with Mr Lee how Britain and Singapore can work together to "protect ourselves from the threat of ISIS and to counter the extremist ideology that is doing so much harm to our young people".

Mr Lee noted that both Singapore and Britain could share their experiences with each other, particularly in terms of dealing with individuals who have been radicalised.

"Terrorism is very much on both of our minds. We both have nationals who have become radicalised and are involved in ISIS and we both have issues on how to manage this, both as a security issue and as part of the wider issue of integration," Mr Lee said.

"We have some experience in Singapore in that area in the form of the Religious Rehabilitation Group. I think Britain has already been working on these areas and I'm sure that we'll be exchanging notes on those and learning from each other's experiences," he added.

Mr Cameron's visit comes at a time of key milestones for Singapore as it celebrates its 50th year of independence and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

As part of the National Day celebrations, Singapore will be receiving Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, as the Queen's representative next month.

Following their talks, Mr Cameron was hosted to lunch at the Istana by Mr Lee. The British leader earlier attended an official welcome ceremony and called on the Singapore President.

After Singapore, Mr Cameron will head to Vietnam - the third stop of his tour of South-east Asia before concluding his visit in Kuala Lumpur.

idayus@sph.com.sg