PM Lee Hsien Loong's remarks at the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Ministers' joint call

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 21 October 2021

Transcript of PM Lee Hsien Loong's remarks at the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Ministers' joint call on 21 October 2021.


Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri, FPDA Defence Ministers, UK Minister for the Armed Forces, good afternoon to all of you.

I would like to thank Malaysia for the excellent arrangements to host the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) 50th Anniversary activities and events, despite the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic. I am very happy for this opportunity to meet all of you today virtually.

This year marks a major milestone for the FPDA. 50 years ago, the FPDA was formed under special circumstances, as a consultative framework to provide critical security for two young nations in Southeast Asia following the withdrawal of British forces. The security context in the region has evolved, but the FPDA remains valuable for all its participants.

For the militaries of the member-nations, the FPDA provides significant operational value and training opportunities. It is the only multilateral security arrangement in the region with an operational element, in the form of the Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (or HQIADS). Today, HQIADS continues to conduct regular high-end conventional exercises. These allow our militaries to build trust and enhance their interoperability, while strengthening HQIADS’ own capabilities as a training and exercise headquarters.

The FPDA is an excellent example of a multilateral security grouping adapting and contributing to regional peace and stability over the long term. It does so by promoting regional cooperation, confidence-building and respect for international law, through exercises, dialogue, and regular professional seminars and forums and also by evolving to respond to modern security needs. Expanding beyond traditional military exercises to building capabilities in maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counter-terrorism, the FPDA has also taken steps to reassure regional neighbours that it is an inclusive and peaceful security arrangement. It invites non-FPDA regional neighbours to be observers for exercises, and to exchange ideas and share information on the conduct of FPDA activities.

This has indeed been a valuable platform. It regularly brings together the Defence Ministers, Chiefs of Defence Forces and senior officials of member-nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. That these interactions have continued even amidst the pandemic is a strong reflection of the adaptability of the Arrangements and the importance that we, as member-nations, place on the FPDA. Singapore reaffirms its resolute commitment to the Arrangements. I express my deepest appreciation to all member-nations for your longstanding support to the FPDA. We can take collective pride and ownership in the Arrangements’ longevity.

Looking ahead, the geo-strategic environment will remain in flux. There will be new threats and geopolitical shifts that upend our operating assumptions and expectations. I encourage the FPDA to be nimble, yet steadfast to its founding principles, and to be a stabiliser for regional peace and development. This way, I am confident that the FPDA will remain successful and strategically relevant for many more years to come.

I wish all the Ministers a fruitful discussion at the FPDA Defence Ministers’ Meeting later.

Thank you.