New cyber-security and information centre to be set up in S'pore for Asean defence exchanges

Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen attending the virtual 15th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting on June 15, 2021.
Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen attending the virtual 15th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting on June 15, 2021.PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - A new Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence will be set up in Singapore, to better allow exchanges among Asean defence establishments against the threats of cyber attacks, disinformation and misinformation.

The establishment of the centre was approved at the 15th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) held virtually on Tuesday (June 15), said the Ministry of Defence.

In its statement, Mindef said the centre will complement the Asean Cyber Defence Network in promoting regional exchanges, interactions and cooperation on cyber-security matters.

Singapore's proposal to host an ADMM-Plus conference on countering chemical, biological and radiological threats in 2022 was also approved at the ADMM.

"Since its inception in 2006, the ADMM has made significant progress in facilitating defence cooperation and dialogue, and has contributed to the region's peace and security," said Mindef.

The ADMM-Plus involves the 10 Asean states and eight dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

On Tuesday, the Asean officials adopted a declaration that reaffirmed the regional grouping's commitment to tackling prevailing and emerging transboundary security threats in the region.

These are, in particular, in the maritime security, counter-terrorism, chemical, biological and radiological, cyber-security and information domains, said Mindef.

The officials also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening regional cooperation for a swift and strong recovery from the Covid-19 situation.

They also met Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the 15th ADMM, at the Asean-China Defence Ministers' Informal Meeting.

The meeting reaffirmed the commitment to resume negotiations on the code of conduct for the South China Sea, and to work towards "an early and expeditious conclusion", said Mindef.

Asean and China had pledged last Tuesday at a special meeting between foreign ministers to exercise self-restraint to avoid actions that would complicate or escalate disputes in the South China Sea and committed to resuming negotiations.

China has made sweeping claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea, but faces competing claims by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

At the Asean-China meeting on Tuesday, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his counterparts said the maritime exercises with the People's Liberation Army Navy provided opportunities to practise the code for unplanned encounters at sea.

They also welcomed China's assistance to countries in the region to help them control the pandemic, said Mindef.

Dr Ng expressed strong support for China's continued engagement of Asean through ADMM-Plus, and looked forward to exploring new areas of Asean-China defence cooperation.

General Wei commemorated 30 years of Asean-China dialogue relations and reaffirmed China's commitment to strengthening Asean-China defence cooperation, said Mindef.

These are in areas such as think-tank exchanges, counter-terrorism, and in the humanitarian clearance of mines.

The Asean officials acknowledged the wide-ranging and strong cooperation with China in political-security, economic and people-to-people relations.

The 8th ADMM-Plus will take place virtually on Wednesday (June 16).

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.