“Strengthening Partnership for a More Safe and Secure ASEAN”
“STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIP FOR A MORE SAFE AND SECURE ASEAN”
Mr K. Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law,
Heads of Delegation of ASEANAPOL Member Countries,
Dialogue Partners and Observers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Importance of ASEANAPOL in Strengthening Regional Cooperation
A warm welcome to Singapore. We are honoured to host the 37th ASEANAPOL Conference. Our law enforcement agencies in ASEAN have a long history of working together on a wide range of security issues. ASEANAPOL has played a key role in this regard by forging regional cooperation and trust among the police officers from all ASEAN countries. This has in turn contributed to regional peace and stability.
This year’s Conference is particularly significant as we celebrate ASEAN’s 50th anniversary. Our meeting today reflects our shared commitment to one another as one united ASEAN community.
At the same time, the rise of transnational crime and terrorism means that we must continually work together to build a more safe and secure ASEAN. We must strengthen our partnership among ASEAN countries to address our common challenges. Allow me to highlight three key areas: the terrorist threat, cybercrimes and cyberthreats, and drugs.
First, we must work together to deal with the terrorist threat in our region, which is at its highest level in recent years.
ISIS or Daesh has been trying to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of Southeast Asian fighters have joined their ranks and carried out deadly attacks in several ASEAN capitals. Many innocent lives have been lost.
Returning fighters from Syria and Iraq also mean that more of them are traversing our borders, passing through our countries on the way there, and on the way back. We must therefore coordinate more closely among the law enforcement agencies in ASEAN to facilitate the timely exchange of intelligence and biometric information of known fighters.
We must not let the actions of a few in the name of religion divide us. We must remain united and continue to share best practices in de-radicalisation and countering violent extremism, through regular, institutionalised exchanges, such as here at ASEANAPOL.
Second, we can strengthen our partnership to combat the rise of cyber-crimes and cyber-attacks.
A good example is the recent joint operation with our friends from INTERPOL, targeting cybercrime across the ASEAN region. Investigators identified nearly 9,000 Command-and-Control servers which were found to be spreading malware, and hundreds of compromised websites, which included government portals.
Singapore will continue to catalyse capability development among our fellow ASEAN members, for instance through supporting Cybercrime Investigation Training Programmes. Earlier this year, we also launched a new USD 7.5 million (S$10 million) ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme to help build a secure and resilient ASEAN cyberspace.
The Singapore International Cyber Week later this month will provide another good opportunity for our ASEAN colleagues to interact, and work with international cyber experts. Together, we can raise our cyber capabilities and strengthen collaboration among ASEAN countries.
Third, we must continue to suppress and eliminate the scourge of drugs. To prevent harm from drugs, to prevent harm and not just to reduce harm, we must uphold the rule of law and take firm action against drug traffickers and drug abusers.
The trends are very troubling. We have seen a rise in methamphetamine production and overseas syndicates which are involved in drug trafficking in ASEAN countries. We must maintain our zero tolerance stance against drugs, and work towards a Drug-Free ASEAN.
We have taken a united stand as ASEAN when our ASEAN Ministers delivered strong statements on our zero tolerance approach at last year’s United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. This reflects our strong commitment to a robust international and regional framework to tackle drugs.
ASEAN members have also adopted the 10-year ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs (2016-2025). We can build on this momentum to strengthen our collaboration to prevent harm from illicit drugs - in intelligence-gathering, conducting joint operations and working upstream to help our youths say “no” to drugs.
A common thread in addressing the threats of terrorism, cybercrime and cyberthreats and drugs is that we must be bold and creative, and use technology and IT solutions to support our work and enhance timely information sharing. Be more innovative and creative in the use of technology to combat criminals. It is therefore apt that the theme of this year’s ASEANAPOL Conference is “Powered by Innovation. Strengthened by Partnerships”.
I am pleased to witness today the launch of a new enhanced ASEANAPOL Database System, or e-ADS 2.0 (pronounced as “e-A-D-S”), at this year’s ASEANAPOL Conference. The e-ADS 2.0 will result in better connectivity and exchange of information among ASEAN law enforcement agencies.
It is this spirit of continuous innovation and partnership that will enable all ASEAN countries to meet the challenges head-on, and ensure the long term safety and security of our region.
I wish all of you a successful conference and to our overseas friends, a pleasant stay in Singapore. Thank you.
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