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GENERAL DATO’ SRI HJ AFFENDI BIN BUANG Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force Following the successful conclusion of Exercise Bersama Lima 16, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) made such a significant contribution with Typhoon multi-role jets, the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force reflects on the importance of the RAF’s continued influence in this part of the world
Decision-making is consensual, gradual and pragmatically orientated. Despite its initial setup to address traditional security issues for Malaysia and Singapore, the FPDA is now increasing its relevance by looking at non-traditional threats as well. As a part of this larger scope, the FPDA is also looking at the importance of confidence-building measures among the non-FPDA regional neighbours. Personally, I recognise the importance of this aspect and fully support the idea of non-FPDA regional neighbours being invited as observers to exchange ideas and share information on the planning and conduct of FPDA activities and exercises.
After more than 45 years, the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA) is currently among the longest-standing military partnership programmes in the world. Although not a formal alliance, the FPDA contributed greatly to thwarting communist ambitions in the region – and, in particular, from the communist terrorists in Malaysia – during the Cold War era, and has been a stabilising influence in more recent times. I sincerely believe that the FPDA will continue to be relevant as a part of the regional security architecture in SouthEast Asia. From its humble beginnings 45 years ago, the FPDA has grown to be recognised as a complementary security architecture as it also operates on principles that are very familiar to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members.
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. Indeed, in the complex and uncertain security environment of the region, the flexibility and adaptability that the FPDA has consistently demonstrated thus far gives a clear indication of its strong resolve. I envision that the FPDA will continue in the future to play a pivotal role in the regional security and stability of South-East Asia following the principles that were formulated at its inception in 1971. The UK was not just an important driver in the establishment of the FPDA, but was also instrumental in safeguarding Malaysia’s interests during our formative years. The UK has provided the necessary
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The Five Powers Defence Arrangements will continue to be relevant as a part of the regional security architecture 56
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concepts that have built confidence, developed professional military skills and contributed to developing militaryto-military relations among the FPDA members. FPDA members were able to tap the experience and draw on the expertise of the UK, as well as from each other, to prove their operational capabilities. The UK remains an important partner member of the FPDA with the capabilities it can provide and being one of the recognised global major powers, as well as having a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. But more important is the question of what significance the FPDA entails for the UK. As South-East Asia is now becoming the world economic engine, it is important for the UK to remain actively engaged within this region. Being a member of the FPDA gives the UK a legitimate reason for positive engagement, thus enabling a stake in ensuring the continued stability and prosperity within South-East Asia. Therefore, in my opinion, the UK-FPDA relationship is truly a symbiotic one, as positive engagements by one part strengthen the other, and vice versa.