Close military interactions lead to stability, security
Aziz Idris

HIS Royal Highness Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and General of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces said Asean has adhered firmly and exclusively to the settlement of inter-regional differences through peaceful processes and has given enormous attention to the shaping and sharing of norms, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict peace building.

HRH the Crown Prince delivered a sabda on ‘National Interests and International Responsibility’ at the opening of the 4th Brunei Darussalam International Defence Conference yesterday at the BRIDEX International Conference Centre.

HRH the Crown Prince directed his thoughts to two main areas: firstly, the protection of a country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its people and secondly, the pursuit of economic and social progress in which he was confident that these areas were in line with the Asean Summit’s theme this year, ‘Our People, Our Future Together’.

HRH the Crown Prince was convinced that with the establishment of the Asean Political Security Community (APSC), it will further define Asean’s common values of living at peace with one another and with the world in a democratic and harmonious environment.

A significant milestone in the history of Asean towards achieving the APSC was the establishment of Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting in 2006 and the Asean Defence Ministers Plus in 2010, added the His Royal Highness.

“This signalled the strong political will among member countries to cooperate in safeguarding their interests and in fostering stability in the region. These endeavours have fostered closer military-to-military cooperation, particularly in addressing non-traditional security issues including peacekeeping and maritime security.

“The strategic programme and action plan agreed to by the Asean Defence Ministers is geared towards achieving a comfort level that enables our military forces to develop common mechanisms, interoperability, joint exercises and the sharing of best practices,” HRH noted before exemplifying the success of the recently concluded Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine exercise hosted in Brunei last June.

His Royal Highness regarded it as a “huge accomplishment” for Asean together with the forces and nations involved. HRH added that this form of close interaction among defence and military officials is also instrumental in building the trust and confidence necessary to ensure further regional stability and security.

HRH the Crown Prince further emphasised his point by sharing with the audience the call made by his father, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, to set up hotlines for open communications to avoid miscalculations at sea which reflects the readiness to strengthen efforts in preventing conflict and escalation of disputes in maritime areas during the Asean Summit.

These practical measures, according to His Royal Highness, will no doubt be contributions to ongoing efforts for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea.

Asean also has evolved to become a valuable contributor in regional security challenges, from ethic insurgencies to religious extremism and terrorism but His Royal Highness was quick to remind the audience to be wary of new challenges such as cyber security and the spread of dual-use technologies.

In a bid to remain alert on these new challenges, the HRH the Crown Prince suggested official interaction through various regional platforms of dialogue and conference that can play a vital role, even in terms of less formal - Borneo Bulletin (3 December 2013)