Workshop discusses ASEAN Hotline issues

National 2 minutes, 4 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI yesterday hosted a technical workshop on the proposed ASEAN hotline for maritime disputes in the region, pushing the initiative into its developing arrangement phase.

Speaking at the opening of the three-day workshop, Permanent Secretary of Defence Policy and Development at the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) noted there will be a wide range of issues that need to be considered for the arrangement of the establishment and operation of the direct communications link owing to the region’s diversity.

Colonel (Rtd) Pg Dato Paduka Hj Azmansham Pg Hj Mohammad anticipated that issues pertaining to the developing arrangement phase will focus on the technical and technological capabilities as well as operational procedures.

However, he said they “should not to be deterred by diversity, but to draw strength from it” by tapping into the wealth of experience on offer.

“But as we feel we are making real progress, the biggest challenges are yet to come,” he told workshop participants at The Centrepoint Hotel in Gadong.

The participants, comprising members of ASEAN nations and secretariat, are expected to come up with the operational concept of the direct communication link; and the technical and technological parameters of the communications systems of the direct communications link.

During the closed-door workshop, invited practitioners and experts from Singapore, Australia, China, India, US, UK and South Africa shared their knowledge and experience of hotlines and cyber defence.

The direct communications link was proposed by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, in his capacity as Chairman of the 22nd ASEAN Summit last year, to prevent the escalation of maritime disputes in the region.

Touted as a practical procedure, the hotline aimed to provide a permanent, rapid, reliable and confidential means for ASEAN Defence Ministers.

The hotline would enable them to communicate with each other to arrive at mutual decisions in handling crisis or emergency situations, in particular related to maritime security, to prevent or defuse misunderstandings and promote quick-response cooperation. MinDef said the goal would not be to resolve underlying issues, but effectively manage and contain tensions in the event of a possible military encounter.

At the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) held in Myanmar in May,defence leaders adopted the Concept Paper on Establishing a Direct Communications Link in the ADMM Process, and pledged their full support to the implementation of the hotline by their next meeting in Malaysia.

Brunei also initiated the first workshop to explore measures in forming a hotline in February.

The Brunei Times