ASEAN, US Defence Ministers On Guard Against Daesh Threat

Hishammuddin speaking at the meeting.
Hishammuddin speaking at the meeting.

KUALA LUMPUR – The threat posed by Daesh, specifically fighters who returned home and self-radicalised ‘lone wolves’, featured in the just-concluded United States-ASEAN Defence Minister’ Informal Meeting in Hawaii.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the 10 ASEAN defence ministers told US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter that they strongly condemned the murderous Daesh militants and other similar organisations.

Carter, he said, had noted that weakly-governed spaces in Southeast Asia could possibly be magnets for regional extremists returning from Iraq and Syria.

Ashton Carter
Ashton Carter

“Their return promotes instability and mistrust within states and between neighbouring countries,” added Hishammuddin in a statement Monday.

He said they deliberated on methods to counter the threat, namely in terms of enhancing counter-messaging systems, information sharing capabilities, building capacity in law enforcement and the military, strengthening the rule of law as well as border security.

“I also briefed the attending ministers on initiatives by the Malaysian police on this matter, specifically on the regional counter-messaging centre,” he said.

Hishammuddin said he also conveyed his personal stand on the South China Sea, which was that unexpected and unintended incidents at sea or over airspace must be avoided at all costs.

He pointed out that these waters were a thriving trade channel that was vital to many economies in ASEAN, the region and beyond, and should remain free and open, safe and commercially pliable.

“We must also avoid any increased militarisation in the South China Sea,” he said, emphasising on the need to step up efforts on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the region.

The third ministerial-level trilateral meeting on the Sulu Seas involving Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines also took place on the sidelines of the US-ASEAN defence ministers’ talks.