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KUALA LUMPUR: The defence and security of a sovereign nation depend very much on the ability of the nation to protect itself, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said that with networks built upon diplomatic relationships, trade agreements and defence cooperation, a sovereign nation could be rest assured that their comrades would be at their assistance in times of need.
“At this forum in 2010, we had deliberated much on the theme ‘Emerging Regional Security Architecture’ which I believe was extremely beneficial to the participants, especially the policy makers who attended the forum,” he said in his opening address at the ‘Putrajaya Forum 2012’ at the Seri Pacific Hotel, yesterday.
The forum, themed ‘Enhancing Multilateralism for Regional Defence and Security’, is part of the on-going Defence Services Asia (DSA) 2012 exhibition at the adjacent Putra World Trade Centre.
Najib’s speech was read by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Najib was unable to attend owing to the Parliamentary proceedings.
Moving on, Najib said this year the theme had shifted to another topic pertinent to defence and security.
“This year’s theme is very appropriate and comes at a time when the current strategic environment is changing rapidly and I hope it will guide the participants in discussing the current scenarios within or outside the region,” Najib said.
He added that safeguarding and defending one’s national interests were the main security challenges in the era of globalization.
“The defence of these interests is pivotal to the nation’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic well-being.
“Arguably, Malaysia’s security perspective is very much influenced by the geographical, political, military and economic realities of the region and its strategic location in Southeast Asia,”he said.
Najib added that within a geographical context, Malaysia shared common land boundaries with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia as well as maritime boundaries with these countries and Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and China.
“Malaysia is relatively small, rich in resources and located at the busiest and critical international sea lanes of communication, the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
“As one of the busiest waterways in the world, the straits attracted more than 100,000 vessels a year. This strongly influences Malaysia’s security outlook in geopolitical terms.
“As a littoral state, Malaysia shoulders the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the straits for international navigation,” he said.
Together with Indonesia and Singapore, Malaysia has worked trilaterally through the ‘Eyes in the Sky’ initiative to combat piracy in the straits, with positive outcomes, he said.
“Likewise, the South China Sea is an important sea line of communication with a quarter of the world’s traded goods passing through.
“Malaysia’s commitment towards maintaining peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea through cooperation between the claimants has contributed to the stability and economic prosperity to the entire region,” said Najib.
He added Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, offshore interests in the South China Sea were rich in living and non-living resources, like hydrocarbons, which in turn contributed significantly to the country’s economic development.
Najib stressed that Malaysia’s strategic aim towards military strength was to live and operate as an independent, sovereign nation within the complex world community.
“Thus, we need to defend ourselves from interference and destruction through various means including armed attack. This is the bedrock of our security and the most basic responsibility of the government,” he said.
Najib added the pillar of Malaysia’s defence strategy was deterrence and forward defence by its credible armed forces which had gone through different eras of force development, from counter-insurgency to conventional and force modernisation.
“Physical conflicts between nations in this 21st century are no longer viable as invasion, violence and war will bring only disaster and unhappiness to people.
“Instead, we now face a new set of asymmetric and non-traditional security challenges, mainly human trafficking, terrorism, drug smuggling and nuclear proliferation which cannot be resolved in isolation or past security means.
“We need multilateral engagements to substantially address them,” said Najib.
He added Asean members had instituted numerous platforms like the Asean Regional Forum, Asean Defence Ministers Meeting and the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism that brought greater transparency for collective interests in handling sensitive issues through joint-border patrols.
“The economies of countries today are so inter-dependent with the sharing of resources like technologies, communication, products and services that it will not make sense to go into war,” he said.
Najib warned of undesirable elements that threathened to destabilize a nation’s economy.
“Such economic terrorism prevents development and an unsafe environment for trade, finance and investment.