FPDA defence chiefs discuss regional security

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen hosting a lunch for the defence chiefs of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member-nations yesterday. The military chiefs of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain were attending an FPDA confe
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen hosting a lunch for the defence chiefs of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member-nations yesterday. The military chiefs of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain were attending an FPDA conference which began on Monday and ends today. PHOTO: MINDEF

Counter-terrorism, maritime concerns, counter-piracy cited as shared key issues

Defence chiefs from five countries met yesterday to discuss ways to tackle new security threats in the region as they looked forward to the jubilee of their security pact in 2021.

The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) conference, which saw military chiefs of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain in attendance, began on Monday and ends today.

This year, the chiefs issued a directive which they said will guide the development of future FPDA activities in today's transformed security environment, citing counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime concerns as key common issues.

The Straits Times understands that the new directive does not include cyber defence elements.

Established in 1971 among the five countries, the FPDA is a regional security pact set up after Britain withdrew most of its military forces from east of the Suez Canal.

A standard directive is typically issued at every FPDA conference - held in Singapore and Malaysia in turns - and guides the development of future FPDA military exercises.

Singapore's Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, who chaired the conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel yesterday, said: "The FPDA continues to be a constructive arrangement, allowing the militaries from (the five countries) to work together and build professional relationships to address the security threats of the day."

He said that FPDA's military exercises have, over the years, incorporated more non-conventional elements, such as counter-terrorism and humanitarian and disaster relief, which this year's Exercise Bersama Lima at Butterworth Air Base in Penang is also focused on.

The defence chiefs will fly up to Penang to observe the exercise, which started on Oct 1 and ends tomorrow.

CONSTRUCTIVE ARRANGEMENT

The FPDA continues to be a constructive arrangement, allowing the militaries from (the five countries) to work together and build professional relationships to address the security threats of the day.

SINGAPORE'S CHIEF OF DEFENCE FORCE LIEUTENANT-GENERAL MELVYN ONG, on the regional security pact.

The exercise involves about 3,000 personnel, seven ships, 48 aircraft, one submarine, two dive teams and other support elements from the five FPDA members.

Malaysia's Chief of Defence Force, General Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, also reaffirmed the importance of the FPDA for regional security, saying: "The participating nations have been very encouraging in whatever we do.

"Many initiatives have been brought forward to make sure we stay relevant for the future."

The chiefs were also hosted to lunch by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday afternoon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'FPDA defence chiefs discuss regional security'. Print Edition | Subscribe