Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his newly minted counterpart from Malaysia Mohamad Sabu agreed yesterday to strengthen bilateral defence ties.
During their first official meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the pair affirmed the warm and longstanding defence relations between their countries, Singapore's Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The ministers noted the good progress made in bilateral defence relations, such as the recent conduct of a new exercise between the two countries' air forces.
In addition, Dr Ng and Mr Mohamad affirmed both countries' cooperation in various regional multilateral platforms, such as the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus, and the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).
They also discussed regional challenges such as the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state, according to the statement.
It noted that Singapore and Malaysia's defence establishments interact regularly across a wide range of activities.
"These regular interactions strengthen mutual understanding and professional ties among the personnel of both defence establishments, and underscore the warm and longstanding defence ties between both countries," it said.
Underscoring the friendly ties, Dr Ng, in recounting the meeting with Mr Mohamad, noted with a chuckle that their discussion had also involved talk about Singapore's best fish briyani.
"That reflects the warmth among Singaporeans and Malaysians in general," he told reporters.
Dr Ng said he was assured that Malaysia understood how crucial the FPDA is for the security of Malaysia and Singapore. And Malaysia, now steered by a new government, wants to maintain, if not improve, defence ties.
He has invited Mr Mohamad to visit Singapore Armed Forces units here, and has also been invited to visit Malaysia. "So, it was a very good start, very warm start, and I think we will get along," said Dr Ng.