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Public Library Publications Annual Security Outlook 2003 Singapore


Section I: Singapore's Outlook for Regional Security

  • The overall regional security outlook for the Asia-Pacific remains relatively stable although the region continues to face uncertainties. There have been no wars or major conflicts and there has also been increasing interest in improving the existing economic cooperation and aiming for more integrated markets in East Asia. The major challenges facing the region are associated with the threat of terrorism, tensions in the Middle East and Korean Peninsula, and the sustainability of the economic recovery process.
  • A stable triangular relationship between the US, China and Japan continues to provide the foundation for stability and economic cooperation in the region. China's rapid development and its accession to the WTO have brought increased trade to the region. China, Japan and the US will continue to remain economically engaged with the region, and the performance of their economies will have a significant bearing on the prosperity and stability  in the region.
  • In Northeast Asia, the situation in the Korean Peninsula is a source of concern. Tensions have escalated further with North Korea's decisions to reactivate its nuclear programme, cease cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and withdraw from the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT). Diplomatic efforts among the key regional players have yet to lead to any breakthrough. All the parties concerned are calling for a peaceful resolution to the issue. However, any miscalculation could result in undesired consequences and set back peace and stability in the region.
  • Despite gaining independence on 20 May 2002, Timor Leste's reconstruction needs remain enormous. The security situation in Timor Leste is tenuous and the country's institutions remain under-developed. Thus, it is important that the international community continues to remain engaged in Timor Leste and provide much-needed assistance to bring about Timor Leste's stability and viability.
  • In the South China Sea, the competing claims remain unresolved. However, there are positive attempts to manage the situation, including the adoption of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea at the 8th ASEAN Summit, possible consultations between ASEAN and China on developing a Code of Conduct for the area, the 12th Workshop on Managing Potential Conflict in the South China Sea in October 2002, and the Biodiversity Expedition to the Anambas involving participants of the Workshop on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea in March 2002.
  • The 8th ASEAN Summit in Cambodia took place against the backdrop of the Bali bombings, global economic slowdown and long-term challenges to ASEAN. The Leaders issued a declaration to express solidarity with Indonesia and agreed to intensify ASEAN's efforts to combat terrorism. The key outcomes of the 8th Summit - closer economic partnerships with China and Japan, and an inaugural Summit meeting with India - will go towards entrenching ASEAN's external linkages with its key dialogue partners.
  • The ARF remains the most important multilateral forum for discussing and exchange views on regional security issues. In recent years, the ARF has helped build up confidence and trust, and develop cooperative norms of behavior amongst member states. It has also made positive initial steps towards the next stage, which is Preventive Diplomacy (PD), and ventured to discuss the implications of terrorism, and consider practical ways in which the ARF can support international efforts to counter terrorism. While the ARF attempts to deal with non-conventional threats such as terrorism, it should continue to address traditional threats to the security of the region that still exist.

Section II: Review of Regional Co-operation

  • Security co-operation in the Asia-Pacific continues to progress well. Bilateral co-operation has been growing both in depth and scope, with substantial bilateral defence co-operation between countries, involving exchange visits, cross attendance of courses, joint training and exercises and security dialogues. In terms of the institutionalisation of multilateral co-operation, mechanisms for region-wide security dialogue, such as the ARF and the Council for Security Co-operation in the Asia pacific (CSCAP), are now well established. Combating terrorism has also served as a galvanizing factor providing further impetus to regional co-operation.
  • In fact, ASEAN has taken several concrete measures to address the threat of terrorism. The ASEAN Leaders Declaration on Terrorism at the 8th Summit in 2002 built upon the ASEAN Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism released by ASEAN Leaders at the 7th Summit in November 2001. A Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime or AMMTC on Terrorism was held in Kuala Lumpur in May 2002. The meeting produced a workplan for the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime (Terrorism Component). Singapore offered logistical support for counter-terrorism training on aviation security, bomb/explosives detection, post-blast investigation and intelligence analysis.
  • At a broader level, ASEAN is also working closely with major players to advance practical areas of cooperation. The Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the US adopted a Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism in August while ASEAN and China issued a Joint Declaration of ASEAN and China on Cooperation in the Field of Non - Traditional Security Issues in November 2002. The first AMMTC+ 3 meeting involving ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK will take place in October 2003.
  • Within the ARF, many confidence-building measures (CBMs) have been implemented and many more are in the process of implementation. The ARF has achieved good progress on practical cooperation through a series of counter-terrorism workshops in 2002. An ARF workshop on Financial Measures to Counter Terrorism organised by the US and Malaysia was held from 24-26 March 2002 in Honolulu. The outcome of this Workshop was an ARF Ministerial Statement on Terrorist Financing. Thailand and Australia organised another ARF Workshop on the Prevention of Terrorism from 17- 19 April 2002 in Bangkok.
  • Singapore continues to play a constructive role to enhance practical cooperation on counter-terrorism within the ASEAN and ARF context. Singapore, Japan and the ROK hosted an ARF Workshop on Counter - Terrorism Measures for Major International Events in October 2002 which dealt which identified future areas for counter-terrorism cooperation and produced a Best Practices Paper for Counter-Terrorism Measures in Major International Events. Singapore and Australia will co-host an ARF Workshop on Managing the Consequence of a Major Terrorist Attack in 2003.
  • This is in line with Singapore's belief that counter-terrorism cooperation among ASEAN and ARF member countries should concentrate on meaningful practical cooperation and timely exchange of information.
  • To carry on the momentum, Inter-Sessional Meetings on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime will bring experts together for exchange of best practices in 2003. This proposal will begin, within the ARF, a series of meetings that will each focus on a specific operational issue in counter- terrorism, involving the relevant policy makers and experts.
  • Following the endorsement of the Concept Paper for an ARF Defence Dialogue by the 9th ARF in July 2002, the first Defence Dialogue was held at the ARF ISG on CBMs in Wellington in November 2002. The first dialogue was successful and the defence officials had a fruitful discussion on the topic of peacekeeping. It was agreed that such meetings contribute substantially to confidence building and trust within the ARF. At this meeting, New Zealand and Singapore also jointly tabled a draft paper proposing the next steps for the ARF Defence Dialogue. The paper recognises the importance of participation of defence officials in the ARF, particularly in this complex security environment and the need to enhance their involvement more systematically.
  • Singapore was venue to the Asia Security Conference hosted by the London- based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in May 2002. Organised independently by the IISS, the conference brought together some 10 Defence Ministers, a number of Deputy Defence Ministers, and several US Senators and Congressman. The IISS Conference is a welcome addition to existing security dialogue opportunities as it provided an opportunity for regional Defence Ministers, senior officials, high-level participants from the private sector, academia and the media to discuss security issues.

Section III: Singapore's Approach and Contributions to Regional Security

  • As a small country, Singapore's peace and prosperity are inextricably linked to the region's peace and stability. We are conscious that both our security and economic well being will become even more susceptible to any instability in our external environment when we become more integrated with the global economy in the 21st century. Hence, one of the key thrusts of Singapore's defence strategy is to work with friendly countries to promote dialogue, confidence-building and co-operation both on a bilateral and multilateral basis, in order to maintain a peaceful and stable regional environment.
  • Singapore believes that regional security and stability is best served by having a security architecture comprising strong bilateral relationships and multilateral arrangements. Singapore enjoys close ties with many countries in the Asia-Pacific and will continue to strengthen and deepen these bilateral ties. In 2002, there were more than 100 high-level visits to MINDEF/SAF by foreign- delegations as well as 26 bilateral for and 11 multilateral fora/conferences. On the multilateral level, Singapore will do its best to contribute to regional defence and security co-operation. It will seek to strengthen existing multilateral arrangements such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) and the ARF, as well as to foster and support new arrangements to enhance regional peace and stability.
  • Singapore believes that multilateral defence and military dialogue and co- operation, In areas such as maritime security, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism and transnational problems, has the potential to be further developed. Military co-operation and dialogue in these areas will also enhance trust and confidence among regional armed forces.
  • As part of the process of positioning itself for the 21st century, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will promote regional military co-operation and dialogue. Over the years, the SAF has developed a wide range of bilateral interactions with a number of armed forces in the region. These include joint exercises and training programmes, exchange visits, professional seminars and cross-attendance of military courses. The SAF will continue to enhance its interoperability with friendly forces in the region in various areas of professional interest.
  • In addition to professional interactions at the bilateral level, all three Services of the SAF have actively engaged in multilateral defence co-operation and confidence building measures. The following are some of the recent multilateral initiatives that the SAF was involved in:
    • The SAF took part in a number of multilateral exercises in 2002. These included Exercise Cobra Gold with the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the US Armed Forces in May. The RSN participated in a 10-nation multilateral SAREX in Japan and contributed one LST for the exercise while the RSAF participated in a trilateral exercise with Thailand and the US under Exercise Cope Tiger.
    • The Army hosted the 3rd ASEAN Chief of Armies Multilateral Meeting (ACAMM) and 12th ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet (AARM) in Singapore in September 2002. The theme of ACAMM III was "Strategic Landscape of the Asia-Pacific: Role of the Army" and it provided an opportunity for the ASEAN Army Chiefs to discuss the regional security situation and how the armies could adapt to deal with both traditional and non-traditional security threats, particularly terrorism.
    • The Singapore Armed Forces organised a Seminar on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief as a confidence building measure under the ambit of the ARF from 4 to 6 December 2002. The Seminar aimed to train disaster managers from both defence and civilian agencies involved in humanitarian and emergency response operations to function in a multi-agency environment in co-ordination with relief organisations. It attracted participation by 86 defence, civil affairs and foreign affairs officials from 19 ARF countries, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations. The ARF HADR Seminar reflects the SAF's continuous effort as a responsible and active member in contributing towards regional security co-operation.
    • The Defence Science Organisation organised the third biennial Singapore International Symposium on Protection against Toxic Substances (SISP AT) in December 2002. The Symposium brought together some 300 research scientists, engineers, professionals from the industry and academia from 25 countries for exchanges of the last knowledge, information and experiences regarding the protection against toxic substances.
  • Singapore has been consistently supporting the efforts of the UN in its peacekeeping efforts as a way of contributing to regional and global peace and stability. Over the last decade, the SAF has contributed over one thousand personnel to UN missions.
  • Singapore's largest deployments to peacekeeping operations to 'date have been to Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor). Currently, we have about 250 SAF personnel serving in UNMISET (UN Mission of Support in East Timor) - comprising a company of peacekeepers, a helicopter detachment and military staff officers with the UNMISET HQ. MG Tan Huck Gim from the SAF is also the Force Commander of UNMISET. Besides UNMISET, the Singapore continues to participate in UNMEE (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea) and UNIKOM (UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission).
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