Prioritise inclusivity, peace on maritime security, ocean governance

This can be achieved under multilateral law and frameworks such as the Asean Regional Forum and the Asia-Europe Meeting, deputy minister says


MALAYSIA and the European Union (EU) member states can go beyond maritime security challenges, coordinate in the sustainable development of marine resources, protect the marine environment and develop maritime connectivity for better ocean governance.

“This can be achieved under multilateral law and frameworks such as the Asean Regional Forum and the Asia-Europe Meeting,” Deputy Minister of Defence Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (picture) said during the “Multilateral and Inclusive Indo-Pacific Region: European Strategy and Opportunities for Malaysia and South-East Asia” seminar yesterday.

Ikmal Hisham added that the region’s main challenge is the rivalry between the US and China.

“Hence, the South-East Asian countries must chart their destiny and actively shape a way forward that is mutual for all such as maintaining Asean’s neutrality and centrality principles,” he said.

Nonetheless, he believes that South-East Asia has grown to become a rapidly evolving region into the centre of growth and prosperity, and has attracted the interests of external states.

“Looking at this, Malaysia and other small South-East Asia countries can utilise their Indo-Pacific partners’ expertise to navigate non-traditional security threats and the broader superpower with regard to the occurring geopolitics in the region,” he added.

The seminar was conducted to present a better understanding of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy in the region, and the inclusivity it could offer in addressing common challenges and discussing ways of cooperation between Asean and EU.

It also focuses on the security and defence area amid the intensifying US-China great power rivalry in the Indo-Pacific.

Apart from emphasising inclusivity, the seminar also addressed the common focus area in South-East Asia such as cybersecurity, green technology and counter-terrorism, as well as help build trust and confidence through engagement and dialogue with the regional states.

It highlighted EU’s contribution to regional defence and security challenges, including their new approaches, as well as the future maritime security and future cooperation involving countries in the primary focus area.

The Indo-Pacific strategy has enabled EU’s ambition to tackle regional security challenges such as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, and maritime security and crisis management.

EU has provided a wide array of tools and instrument, whether it concern and forge a further partnership, counter-terrorism and it is looking forward to enhance the bilateral partnership with other major countries such as Japan and India.

Currently, Malaysian and French national defence forces collaborate on education and training for the civilian and military officers in the defence industry.

France reiterates its commitment to protect the sovereignty between the citizens in the area and seek for peaceful resolution in maritime security with South-East Asia.

This also includes extending humanitarian and disaster aid when necessary and against nuclear proliferation.

Among others, the seminar also suggested the creation of a think tank for the members as an avenue to address the current government policy and play their role as the representative for the members.

“Besides capacity building, we can also extend the Malaysia-France cooperation on defence technology, think tank collaborations and ocean governance,” he added.

In highlighting the multilateralism and inclusiveness among the European states in the engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the speakers also condemn any form of war and aggression.

Any conflict can be solved through a pragmatic approach and diplomatic solution such as joining forces, cooperation and shared commitment to bring more prosperity.

“The relationship must address the main concerns of South-East Asian nations — one, economic prosperity and two, security — to guarantee stability and peace, and this requires courage, patience and better bilateral engagements,” Ikmal Hisham added.

Meanwhile, Maritime Institute of Malaysia DG Datuk Sabirin Jaa’far said the Indo-Pacific strategy does not intend to invade any countries and hopes the involved states will continue to advocate for better engagement.

“I hope with this new strategy, all the states and parties remain consistent to avoid the conflict in the region,” Sabirin concluded.


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