Forum: Rules-based international order still the best way to deal with joint issues despite flaws

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's emphasis on the importance of multilateralism and cooperation (Vivian calls for multilateralism to be strengthened at UN meeting, Sept 26) comes at a volatile time in geopolitics, as many man-made crises plague the world.

Despite a shift to multilateralism to deal with cross-border issues like climate change and Covid-19, the world was forced to confront the reality that war and conflict remain very real after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Even in South-east Asia, the ongoing situation in Myanmar sparked by the February 2021 military coup has yet to be resolved, due to Asean's strong adherence to the principle of non-interference.

The United States-China relationship is on a precarious balancing beam, in which a miscalculation could mean devastation on both sides, but inaction would also not ease tensions. The visit by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan was a wake-up call for the region. The shift towards disrupting the status quo on sensitive issues raised the urgency of cooperation and diplomacy as highlighted by Dr Balakrishnan.

Many things are easier said than done, and the rules-based international order does have its flaws. Yet, it remains the most suitable mechanism to provide nations with a platform to deal with collective issues on the environment as well as to express concern on their sovereignty and security.

Going back to Dr Balakrishnan's words, a lot of work is required to secure Singapore's security in a changing world order beset by uncertainty, and only when nations are on the same page can they come together to realise such goals.

Yen Zhi Yi

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