You are here
Home > Defence Relations > FPDA will not Lose ‘Golden’ Lustre

FPDA will not Lose ‘Golden’ Lustre

KUALA LUMPUR: The Five-Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) will not lose its ‘golden’ lustre as it turns 50, very soon, assured Armed Forces chief Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang.

He said the defence pact was destined to continue contributing to regional peace and security, in a meaningful and productive manner.

“This is being done by maintaining high-end, conventional warfighting capabilities as its raison d’être (reason for existence).

“The FPDA will also continue to develop proficiency in maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and counter-terrorism.

“Additionally, the five member nations are also in the early stages of considering the scope of defensive cyber security operations.

“We have to consider how we adapt the employment of emerging capabilities at a pace comfortable to all member nations,” he told The New Straits Times in conjunction with the FPDA’s 50th Golden anniversary celebrations, planned for Oct 21.

The NST learnt that plans are afoot to hold a fly-past of fighter jets from among the FPDA member countries – the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia – at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang.

Also planned are the 11th FPDA Defence Ministers Meeting at a leading hotel in the federal capital.

This is a follow-up of the 20th FPDA Defence Chiefs’ Conference held via video conference on June 23, in compliance with the Covid-19 pandemic’s standard operating procedures and its Movement Control Order.

Affendi reiterated that the FPDA would continue to be mindful of regional sensitivities, and clearly portray it as a constructive, transparent and peaceful defence arrangement.

“While predicting the future is always difficult, the continued mutual respect, commitment, trust and goodwill between the FPDA member nations should prevail.

“This, coupled with a clarity of purpose and the disciplined execution of activities should see the FPDA continue to evolve, as seen fit for the future,” he said.

Affendi added that the Covid-19 pandemic had substantially disrupted the FPDA’s exercises and activities.

However, he said that the Butterworth-based Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (HQIADS) and member-nations mitigated the disruption by shifting collaboration online, making full use of updated information technology infrastructure, in accordance with the new norms.

“Despite the (Covid-19) disruptions, we managed to earlier host via virtual means the command post exercise ‘Exercise Bersama Shield 2021’; an FPDA seminar on current and future battlespace requirements, and discussions on defensive cyber security operations.

“These are among the multiple planning activities to adapt to the changing Covid-19 environment, that will culminate with this month’s (October) ‘Exercise Bersama Gold 21’ – a contactless air and maritime exercise, which is the first large multi-lateral security exercise in the region,” Affendi said.

He added that the FPDA Defence Ministers’ Meeting (FDMM) to be held virtually, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary, would see a re-affirmed commitment from the five nations.

“A ’50th Anniversary’ video and book will also be released, in advance of the actual anniversary on Nov 1,” he said.

Affendi said that despite the Covid-19 global pandemic, the defence pact’s achievements were a tribute to the relevance, resilience and adaptability of the FPDA and commitment of the five member nations.

He reminisced on how the FPDA was formally set up on November 1, 1971 to contribute to the external defence of Malaysia and Singapore, in response to the reduction in British forces in the region.

“It has since evolved over the past 50 years with the changing security environment and continues to be an integral part of the regional security architecture.

“The FPDA remains unique as the only multilateral defence arrangement in the region with an operational element (HQIADS) and featuring high-end conventional warfighting elements from each of the five nations. “Initially, its focus was on air defence but at the turn of the century, the FPDA evolved into joint operations with the maritime and land forces.

“Thus, it saw a rebranding of the headquarters from ‘Integrated Air Defence System’ into the ‘Integrated Area Defence System’,” said Affendi.

He added that cognisant of regional sensitivities, the FPDA sought to build confidence and transparency by inviting Asean defence advisers and attachés to observe its ‘observer programme’ exercises since 2007.

Following the FPDA’s 40th anniversary in 2011, it expanded to build capacity in non-conventional areas of maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – to deal with emerging security challenges.

He said the 10th FDMM in 2017 gave guidance for the pact to strengthen its capacity in the face of the growing threat of terrorism in the region, while enhancing conventional elements as the mainstay of its exercises.

“The FPDA will continue to be guided by representatives of the five member nations and will participate in routine security exercises, seminars and training as it has for the past 50 years.

“The FPDA member nations will maintain a strong commitment to the arrangement and continue to adapt to the challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I envision that the FPDA will continue in the future to play a vital role in the regional security and stability of South-East Asia following the principles that were formulated at its inception in 1971.

“Within the current context, the FPDA has the potential in future to evolve into an institution that is capable of influencing constructively the regional security architecture and defence cooperation in South East Asia,” said Affendi.

He added that in view of the complex and uncertain security environment of the region, the flexibility and adaptability that the FPDA has consistently demonstrated thus far, gave a clear indication of its strong resolve as another security mechanism for this region.

“With 50 years of experience and going into the future, I fully believe that the FPDA has what it takes to continually foster security confidence for the prosperity and stability in this region,” Affendi said.

Apart from Affendi, the FPDA’s 50th anniversary is expected to be attended by the chiefs of defence force from Australia General Angus J. Campbell, New Zealand Air Marshal Kevin Short; Singapore Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat, and the United Kingdom’s General Sir Nicholas Carter, as well as the HQIADS commander Australia’s Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey Harland.

Source: New Straits Times

By Adrian David
October 4, 2021 @ 10:19am

%d bloggers like this: