KUALA LUMPUR - Global nations must prepare their militaries for an uncertain future as threats become more demanding, requiring security forces to respond to non-traditional challenges, Singapore's defence minister has said.
Speaking at the high-level Putrajaya defence forum, held in conjunction with the 14th Defence Services Asia exhibition and conference yesterday, Dr Ng Eng Hen said the Asian region is witnessing substantial changes in the global order, which present new security challenges.
Defence ministries in the region will need to build more resilient institutions and constructive partnerships at both bilateral and multilateral levels, he added.
Citing Singapore-Malaysia defence ties as an example, Dr Ng said these have grown stronger in tandem with the state-to-state relationship. The militaries have bonded through exercises held together over the years. For instance, he noted, Exercise Malapura between the two countries' navies is now in its 30th year.
"Our senior commanders attend each other's military courses and many know each other on a first-name, personal phone number basis," he said.
"These deep and long interactions augur well for a stable and shared prosperous future between Malaysia and Singapore."
The third Putrajaya forum, which continues today, is attended by about 400 defence officials from countries including China, Vietnam, the United States and Britain. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak officiated the event yesterday.
In his keynote speech, Dr Ng also expressed sympathies to the Malaysian government and families affected by Malaysia Airlines' MH370 which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board.
He said the Singapore Government is supportive of Malaysia's handling of the unprecedented crisis.
"Singaporeans join you in prayers and hope that there can soon be closure to this tragic chapter in aviation history," he said.
The international response to the MH370 incident is a vivid illustration of the expanded roles of modern militaries, he noted. Security forces from 26 countries have assisted in the search for the missing plane, deploying various assets such as ships, planes, helicopters, submarines and ground-based and satellite radars.