| Siti Hajar |
BRUNEI Darussalam has set up its own team of intelligence as a proactive measure in addressing the threat from the Islamic State (IS).
The Royal Brunei Armed Forces Commander, Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih bin Abdullah, said this at a press conference following the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference (CHOD), while reassuring that Brunei is keeping a close watch on the IS activities.
Though the situation is developing thousands of miles away, Brunei Darussalam recognises the importance of ensuring not just its borders remain safe but also the safety of the region, with relevant agencies working with their respective counterparts within and outside Asean in dealing with one of the pressing security concerns on a global scale.
Later, in an interview, the commander explained that relevant agencies in Brunei “are keeping an eye on the movement of those who support IS”, particularly those from neighbouring states. A recent report claimed that a woman was apprehended at the KLIA2 in Malaysia after it was found she had intended to use Brunei as a transit point to reach Turkey to marry an IS member.
“With close cooperation from counterparts in the region and elsewhere, we are able to monitor movements of individuals who could potentially be involved either directly or indirectly with IS” and who intend to use Brunei as a transit point, signalling that the Sultanate is committed to fighting the war against terrorism, echoing the recent titah of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
The RBAF Commander assured, “We don’t have to be overly concerned with such activities here in Brunei” emphasising that “the Bruneian people are more aware and know exactly where the line is drawn in being a good Muslim and an extremist”.
The 16th CHOD meeting that commenced on November 3 and concluded yesterday, meanwhile, addressed several issues of mutual concern among 26 countries from the Asia-Pacific and beyond joined for the first time by China. The meeting’s outcome carried the tone of positivity and better understanding among those who took part in the gathering.
Co-host Admiral Samuel J Locklear III from the United States Pacific Command described the meeting as being among the most successful in CHOD’s history and commended the RBAF for its support and thanked His Majesty for allowing the meeting to be held in the Sultanate.
According to the RBAF commander, the meeting had provided defence leaders the opportunity to interact and discuss more closely, among others, the theme of this year’s meeting t‘Multilateralism: Practical Cooperation towards Shared Responsibilities’.
“It is important for us to carry the sense of responsibility for any security and defence issues that threaten peace and security regardless of a country’s size,” he said during the press conference.
Among the topics discussed included the South China Sea dispute which, Admiral Locklear explained, had resulted in a better understanding of China’s perspective and vice-versa among other attendees.
“We have all agreed that there needs to be better communication between various nations as well as between China and the US,” he said, adding, “We are collectively pursuing better opportunities to interact with each other and be able to prevent miscalculations,” especially in areas of friction.
China’s acceptance to attend the meeting, he pointed out, “is a sign of trust and respect and we hope to build through this platform, strengthening trust and confidence in each other” by way of contributing to peace and stability.
Other topics addressed during the press conference included Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief as well as the Ebola crisis with military presence to support either as front- liners and first responders or in facilitating front-liner responsibilities, especially towards assisting nurses and doctors.