Malaysia emphasizes Asean centrality at grouping’s defence ministers’meet

By Linda Khoo

BANGKOK, July 12 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysia put forward its stand of retaining Asean Centrality as the key principle in the 10-member regional grouping’s establishment of cooperation with its dialogue partners at the 13th Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) here, Malaysian Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said Friday.

The 13th ADMM concluded Thursday in this capital of Thailand.

‘ADMM is the highest platform for defence cooperation among the countries of Asean. The joint decisions arrived at must be free from external influence and thus fully benefit the Asean countries.

“For example, if we want to accept major powers as dialogue partners, they must come to a joint agreement (with the Asean countries). This has been in practice all along and, with the agreement of all the 10 Asean members, it becomes a common stand,” he told Bernama.

Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan chaired the 13th ADMM which carried the theme, “Sustainable Security”. All the 10 Asean defence ministers and the secretary-general of Asean, Datuk Lim Jock Hoi, attended the meeting.

The defence ministers signed a joint declaration on sustainable security and adoption of initiatives to strengthen defence and security cooperation in the region. The Joint Declaration of the Asean Defence Ministers on Sustainable Security emphasises the importance of working together to safeguard security and stability in the region and to explore new mutually beneficial areas of cooperation.

Mohamad said Malaysia will continue to give its full commitment and support to the implemention of the agreed initiatives in the declaration, including the initiative towards enhancing and sustaining defence cooperation among the Asean countries.

He also said that the Asean Our Eyes and Guidelines for Maritime Interaction initiatives portray ADMM efforts to optmise the sharing of information, building of trust and confidence and sustaining defence cooperation among the Asean countries to face regional security challenges.

The meeting also adopted six concept papers, a testament to Asean’s desire to strengthen cooperation to tackle key regional security challenges.

Mohamad also said that Malaysia will continue to strengthen cooperation in various fields with its oldest neighbour, Thailand.

“Malaysia and Thailand have the longest and oldest relationship in Asean. Bilateral cooperation has been established in various fields. We have a very close relationship.

“In that regard, cooperation with Thailand is not something new. It will be intensified and reinforced from time to time in various fields, particularly in dealing with drug smuggling and human trafficking.

“In addition, we also share information to thwart threats of terrorism and strengthen security cooperation,” he said.

Mohamad also held bilateral talks with Prawit in an effort to strengthen defence cooperation between Malaysia and Thailand.

“The main focus of the discussions was on security along the common border and combating terrorism in southern Thailand,” he said in a post on his Twitter account.