(L-R) Australia's Minister for Defence Marise Ann Payne, Malaysia's Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, New Zealand's Minister of Defence Mark Mitchell and Britain's High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman attend the Five Power Defence Arrangements Defence Ministers' Meeting in Singapore June 2, 2017. REUTERS Pix.

SINGAPORE: The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) will be another important platform to face the "terrorism, extremism and militancy" in the Asian region, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

"FPDA as the platform not only has a historical dimension but also the thrust between these five nations to face what challenges the world has to face today," he told a press conference after the 10th FPDA Defence Ministers' Meeting in Singapore today.

"By having this commitment, FPDA will become even more important than ever before. We are determined to do it," he said.

The 45-year-old grouping, dubbed the world's second-oldest military partnership comprises Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.

FPDA is a collective defence arrangement established in 1971, among others, under the agreement, the five signatories to undertake and consult each other in the event of external aggression or threat against Malaysia or Singapore.

Hishammuddin noted that FPDA would be in line with all ASEAN's 10 member countries, which had much earlier put a pledge to face the Islamic State (IS) threat in the region two years ago.

"Now, we are looking at the FPDA platform because if we do nothing and they (IS) do get a foothold in this region, it will affect the nation in these platform and grouping as well.

"This is something new in our meeting this time. Don't have any doubt. We are so determined to deal with them (IS)," he said,

Hishammuddin said that what unfolded in the region such as in Marawi, Jakarta, Bangkok as well as in Malaysia “was something FPDA decided in the meeting to be addressed.”

He noted that not only military initiative through FPDA but the "winning hearts and minds" via social media was also another platform to counter the narrative coming up from the group of "unscrupulous and evil" people who had their own agenda.

Hishammuddin cited The King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) which had started its first day of operation on May 30 in Malaysia.

He said the KSCIP would be linked to the recently launched Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, which Malaysia had interest in.

He believed it was the way forward to fight terrorism through winning of hearts and minds, soft power, and counter narrative as against just military initiatives.

Hosted by Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, the 10th FPDA Defence Ministers' Meeting was attended by Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne; New Zealand Minister of Defence Mark Mitchell and the British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman.

Among others, FPDA agreed to enhance the observers' programme for non-FPDA countries in the region to observe FPDA exercise in the spirit of promoting the FPDA's transparency.

FPDA is held every three years with Singapore and Malaysia taking turns to host. – Bernama

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