ASEAN – Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom stated today that their 51-year-old Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) treaty was robust, current, and critical to managing increasing regional tensions.
Following their discussion on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the officials told a press conference that the member states’ relationship was friendly, and that they were focused on the future despite increased geopolitical complications.
As tensions in the area rise, notably between China and US allies, Malaysia’s Senior Minister for Defence, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, sees the FPDA as an important moderating element.
Great discussion today with many of my Southeast Asian counterparts on ways to deepen our defense partnerships to address regional security challenges. Our cooperation is essential to ensuring a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region. 🇰🇭 🇧🇳 🇮🇩 🇱🇦 🇲🇾 🇵🇭 🇸🇬 🇹🇭 🇻🇳 🇺🇸 #SLD22 pic.twitter.com/AKNDbgimVf— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) June 10, 2022
Hishammuddin stated that his main concern is unexpected occurrences and accidents that can spiral out of control and become larger than they are, and that if these platforms (such as the FPDA) did not exist, there would be no way to handle problems that do occasionally spiral out of control.
Hishammuddin, Singaporean Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, New Zealand Defence Minister Peeni Henare, and British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen all reiterated their support for the FPDA and emphasized its future usefulness. Australia is firmly committed to the FPDA, which is not something we take for granted, according to Marles.