Singapore and Germany discuss defence collaboration to tackle disinformation

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen met with German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on the sidelines of the 56th Munich Security Conference. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen met German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Sunday (Feb 16) to explore new areas of defence collaboration, including in cyber security and the tackling of disinformation.

The two ministers' first meeting took place on the sidelines of the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany.

The annual three-day high-level security conference brings together more than 500 heads of government, defence and foreign ministers, parliamentarians, military leaders, and security experts from around the world.

During the meeting, Dr Ng thanked Germany for supporting the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) continued armour training in Oberlausitz, as well as the SAF's submarine programme and crew training in Kiel.

They also reaffirmed "warm and growing" bilateral defence relations, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Dr Ng is on a four-day visit to Munich from last Friday to Monday.

In addition to Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, he also met Australia's Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and India's Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar separately.

In both meetings, he and his counterpart reaffirmed bilateral defence relationships between Singapore, and Australia and India, and talked about mutual defence cooperation.

Speaking at the 12th Munich Young Leaders Roundtable on Saturday, which saw participants from governments, think-tanks and the private sector from the Asia-Pacific, Dr Ng called for a degree of realism in problem-solving.

He told a roundtable of 25 young leaders from 21 countries to "take the world as it is, not as what we want it to be".

He added: "Our world has shifted... we have to be clear-eyed, and what we plan and our actions need to be relevant to the current challenges."

He also discussed with those present about how the emergence of newer power centres are changing regional and global politics, and how these new norms could affect liberal democracies.

On Sunday, Dr Ng also attended a discussion over lunch with delegates and business executives at the security conference.

The Atlantic Council luncheon took place outside the security conference, and those present talked about issues ranging from the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), to how to address rapid technological change.

Nato has recently been divided by issues such as Turkey's invasion of northern Syria and United States President Donald Trump's insistence that European countries contribute more to the defence alliance.

Last Friday, on the first day of the conference, Dr Ng stressed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation in relation to the dispute over the South China Sea.

He also told those at a Maritime Security Roundtable during the conference that solutions should be "diplomatic", "de-escalatory", and be based on trust and confidence.

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines each claim sovereignty over some or all of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

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