Najib: Timely exchange of intelligence vital for Malaysia and Philippines

Malaysia's King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah (right), Philippine President Benigno Aquino (left) and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) walk after a welcoming ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur on February 28, 2014.

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia and the Philippines are looking at the possibility of setting up a hotline between the security forces of both nations.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this was because a timely exchange of intelligence was vital to ensure a high degree of deterrence.

"In the event of any security (threatening) incident happening, we need to ensure immediate interdiction on our Malaysian side as well as on the Philippines side.

"There should be a timely exchange of intelligence and we are looking at the possibility of establishing a hotline between our security forces," he said in a joint statement with President Benigno Aquino after their bilateral talks here yesterday.

In February last year, hundreds of Sulu gunmen from the southern Philippines landed at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu in an attempt to take over the coastal village.

The incursion led to a nearly two-month stand-off between the security forces and the gunmen before the Government launched Ops Daulat where 61 intruders were killed and 11 members of the Malaysian security forces lost their lives.

Najib also congratulated Aquino on the Bangsamoro Agreement, of which the framework agreement had been signed while four annexes, which constitute the comprehensive agreement, would be signed at the end of March.

"President Aquino has invited me to attend the (signing) ceremony and I look forward to attending this historic ceremony, which will usher in a new era for the people of the Philippines, particularly in southern Philippines.

"Malaysia is delighted that we can play our part as a facilitator to support this process and to add strength to the process.

"We will offer capacity building for the Bangsamoro people because being part of the future government in southern Philippines will require them to have new skills," he said.

Najib added that Malaysia was also ready to offer its expertise in Islamic finance, banking services and promotion of halal products to the Philippines following a request from Aquino.

Aquino thanked the Malaysian Government for its effort to consolidate peace and development in Mindanao.

"The successful conclusion of the Mindanao peace process finds root in the determination of both our peoples to strengthen the foundations of peace and justice.

"I wish to thank you for the significant support your government has demonstrated in facilitating and hosting the peace talks between my government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," he said.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of the Mindanao peace process since 2001.

Aquino also praised the people of Malaysia for their commitment and contribution in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, saying that the Filipino people would never forget an act of kindness.

"On behalf of my countrymen, please accept my sincerest gratitude. Terima kasih, maraming salamat (Thank you in Tagalog)," he said.