‘Close ties key in maintaining peace’

National 2 minutes, 31 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A TOP Indonesian defence official yesterday stressed the importance of further enhancing ties among ASEAN countries while taking concrete actions to ensure the peace and security of the region.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of his visit to the sultanate, Indonesia’s Defence Minister, General (Rtd) Ryamizard Ryacudu, said the close connections among defence and military officials will enable the member states to act swiftly in responding to any activities related to security threats.

Citing an example, he said when Indonesian sailors were recently taken hostage in the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippines, he immediately contacted the Philippines’ national defence secretary and requested a meeting.

Just two days later, they attended a two-hour meeting. Although the Philippines’ new administration was just being installed at the time, he said, the Philippine national defence secretary agreed to resolve the matter at the meeting.

“Close friendship must be enhanced from time to time,” he said, adding that camaraderie is a key factor in building closer ties.

In the context of bilateral relations between Indonesia and Brunei, he said the two countries have established very close cooperation, including in the field of defence.

The importance of enhancing these close ties was among the matters raised on Friday during an audience with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the minister said.

“The defence and military cooperation between the two countries has been well-established,” he said.

For example, he said, marksmanship coaches from the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) have shared their expertise with their Bruneian counterparts. Indonesia has also offered to sell military equipment produced by state-owned weapons producer PT Pindad.

Indonesia and Brunei held their inaugural Joint Defence Cooperation Committee meeting in August 2014 in the sultanate which discussed bilateral defence and military cooperation such as joint operations, exercises, training and education.

On the issue of maintaining peace and security in the region, he called on all parties to implement concrete actions such as conducting joint exercises and joint patrols to combat maritime crime and terrorism.

“Stop the rhetoric now and take concrete actions,” he said.

The initiative to conduct joint patrols by Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia is an example of the concrete actions to ensure peace and security, he said.

Asked whether Brunei will participate in joint patrols in the Sulu Sea, he said discussions on this will take place between the countries involved in the operation in the next few days.

The media reported that relevant parties are working on the framework of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It comprises joint air patrols, coordinated naval patrols and the exchange of military intelligence among the three countries with the aim of boosting security in the Sulu Sea. The framework will be signed after the conclusion of the working group meeting currently taking place in Jakarta.

The minister departed the sultanate yesterday. He was among the foreign dignitaries invited to attend His Majesty’s birthday celebrations.

The Brunei Times