S'pore eyeing more SAF training opportunities in New Zealand: Eng Hen

Singapore is exploring the possibility of more training opportunities for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in New Zealand and is also looking to deepen its relationship with the country, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

He was speaking to the media alongside his counterpart Gerry Brownlee, after both held the inaugural Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers' Meeting.

Earlier, both ministers observed Exercise Thunder Warrior, an artillery live-firing exercise at the Waiouru Training Area.

The exercise marks its 20th anniversary this year.

It is being held from Jan 6 to Jan 26, and involves about 500 personnel from the Singapore Artillery.

Dr Ng said it was important to strengthen relations with "like- minded" countries during this "period of uncertainty".

He noted that New Zealand and Singapore already cooperate in platforms such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

"Whether it is the US' new President, Brexit, rising powers like China and India in this part of the world, the status quo has been changed," said Dr Ng, according to a transcript from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

"When status quo has been changed, it can be very unsettling so we have to guide this region and even globally to a period where we can continue to have peace and stability in our region," he added.

During the meeting, the two ministers agreed to explore further defence cooperation through new platforms, such as annual Air Force staff talks, and the establishment of one operational working group and one working group for education and training.

Mr Brownlee said the Royal New Zealand Navy will use Singapore as a port while travelling through the Strait of Malacca.

Meanwhile, Dr Ng said a naval task group will come to Singapore for Exercise Bersama Shield- a multilateral exercise between members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The exercise will take place in April.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore eyeing more SAF training opportunities in New Zealand: Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe