LANGKAWI, May 22 — Bilateral relations and consensus among ASEAN countries need to be strengthened in order to ensure security and stability of the region is given priority.

Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said a united front could prevent superpowers from taking ASEAN countries, including Malaysia lightly.

“If the 10 ASEAN countries could unite to ensure that our priority is our regional security and stability, then no superpowers can belittle us,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after witnessing the 2022 Taming Sari Exercise Series 21 in the waters at the north of the Straits of Melaka, near here today.

Commenting further, Hishammuddin said, however, the efforts of ASEAN countries together with the superpowers must continue in addition to the approach of strengthening relations among Asean countries.

He said the bilateral relationship could be translated into proactive actions such as military exercises.

He said this year alone, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) had carried out various bilateral and multilateral exercises, especially in the waters of South China Sea and the waters of the Straits of Melaka.

“Among the bilateral and multilateral exercises that have been implemented and participated by the RMN from January to May this year are the Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the German Navy in the Straits of Melaka; PASSEX with the French Navy in the South China Sea; PASSEX with the Royal Australian Navy in the waters of South China Sea.

“In addition, Cobra Gold 22 with Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in Pattaya, Thailand; Milan 22 with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in Visakhapatnam, India and SHIELD with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom at HQIADS, Butterworth Air Base and the South China Sea,” he said.

Hishammuddin said the exercise, which involved the joint participation of foreign countries, was considered as a recognition of Malaysia’s military capabilities as well as Malaysia’s position in a strategic location in the middle of superpowers.

Meanwhile, in a statement distributed to the media, Hishammuddin said the RMN would also send KD Lekir to participate in the Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercise in the Hawaiian Islands, USA on June 29 to Aug 4.

He said the exercise is the largest maritime exercise organised by the US Navy and KD Lekir would start sailing from Lumut RMN base on May 30.

The Taming Sari Exercise, which involved 1,250 RMN personnel, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Maritim Malaysia) involving 10 ships, five fast combat boats (FCB), three RMN aircraft, three RMAF aircraft and two aircraft of Maritim Malaysia.

In the exercise, the shooting was done using an EXOCET MM40 missile launched from KD Lekir in the waters of north Melaka Strait and the shot hit its target about 20 nautical miles or 36 kilometres away.

The success of firing the missile on the target not only proves the ability and expertise of RMN personnel in handling the country’s defence assets, but also highlights RMN’s preparedness in ensuring that the country’s waters remain safe and sovereign.


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