| Danial Norjidi |
ESTABLISHING a direct communications link (DCL) between Asean Defence Ministers will help create new opportunities for cooperation and provide a platform to respond to the needs and challenges facing the region.
However, for these opportunities to materialise, it is imperative for those involved to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the requirements of implementing this initiative.
Abu Sufian bin Haji Ali, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Defence Policy and Development) at the Ministry of Defence (MinDef), put these points forward while delivering his welcoming remarks at the opening ceremony of the First Ad Hoc Working Group Meeting on Establishing a Direct Communications Link in the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting Process yesterday.
“The process up to now has clearly focused on the follow-up to the decisions made at the 8th ADMM this year in Myanmar, which is ultimately to activate the DCL by 2015 in Malaysia.
“This progress, I think, would not have been achieved and sustained, but for the full commitment and dedication, as well as strong and full support of each of the Asean member states towards achieving that goal,” he continued. “This reflects our true spirit of cooperation, which has forged many common understandings in our effort to maintain peace and security in the region as well as to lay a firm and stronger foundation for building an Asean Political-Security Community by 2015.”
The three-day meeting, held at the Centrepoint Hotel, brings together participants from the Asean member states and Asean Secretariat, as well as various departments and units from both Brunei’s Ministry of Defence and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
According to a MinDef press release, the convening of this meeting is considered another step ahead in the developing arrangement phase of the initiative on “establishing a DCL in the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM).”
As MinDef explained, “This DCL initiative is aimed at providing a permanent, rapid, reliable and confidential means by which any two Asean Defence Ministers may communicate with each other to arrive at mutual decisions in handling crisis or emergency situations, in particular, related to maritime security, with the objectives to prevent or defuse misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and therefore to prevent escalation, and to promote quick-response cooperation in emergency situations.”
The goal would not be to resolve underlying issues, but effectively manage and contain tensions in the event of a possible military encounter, to foster de-escalation and to provide a channel for initial quick reaction and assistance in emergency situations.
“It has been a valuable process so far ever since last year’s ADMM in Brunei when it started to evolve, where the Asean Defence Ministers have responded to the call made by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, in His Majesty’s capacity as the Chairman of the 22nd Asean Summit, in supporting the idea of putting in place practical procedures which could assist in avoiding undesired incidents at sea,” the press release added.
Abu Sufian bin Haji Ali highlighted that should it succeed, the initiative will create new opportunities for cooperation and also provide a platform to turn ADMM commitments into reality in response to the needs and challenges facing the region, particularly in advancing practical cooperation and enhancing interoperability in emergency situations in areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“I regard this as a true value of the DCL initiative,” he affirmed. “However, in order to be able to utilise these opportunities, it is imperative for us to be able to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the requirements of implementing this initiative.
As such, cooperation and strong commitment among ourselves will provide us with the strength for success.”
He went on to share that the technical concept of the DCL being proposed is simple and revolves around the four parameters defined by the Asean Defence Ministers, namely: permanent, rapid, reliable and confidential.