Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Military cooperation with Singapore still good, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR Sept 2 - Malaysia still maintains good military cooperation with Singapore in spite of political hiccups in bilateral ties, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

In fact, he said the armed forces of both countries shared the commitment to peace and political stability in the region.

"Our cooperation in defence is in line with the Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA), which has a positive impact on the region especially in the development of defence forces of both Malaysia and Singapor," he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from his Singapore's counterpart Teo Chee Hean at Wisma Pertahanan here Tuesday.

Najib said the cooperation also went beyond the FPDA to cover medium scale joint military exercises.

The cooperation however did not involve purchase of weapons or transfer of technology with Singapore, he said.

Singapore produces 155 mm gun, Bionix armoured vehicle and world's lightest machine-gun Ultimax as well as having the expertise to enhance capability of jet fighters F-5E Tiger and A-4 Skyhawk.

Najib said Malaysia also sent its officers to Singapore for training using the republic's simulator while Singapore sent its officers to the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College.

He denied suggestion that both countries were involved an arms race as they increased their arsenal with state-of-the-art weaponry.

"Malaysia and Singapore have cooperated in defence for years and both countries are committed to peace in the region," he said.

Teo, who was appointed as Singapore's Defence Minister on Aug 1, is on a two-day visit here.

He was accompanied by Singapore's High Commissioner Ashok Kumar during the courtesy call.

In the half an hour meeting, both ministers discussed about military cooperation and threats from terrorists in the region.

Asked if the Pulau Batu Putih issue was also discussed, Najib said: "It was not discussed as both countries have their own stand on the issue and the matter can only be resolved through the International Court of Justice (ICJ)."

EARLIER, in PUTRAJAYA, Teo made a courtesy call to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the latters office here Tuesday.

Teo arrived at the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang Tuesday morning for a two-day visit to Malaysia.

Present at the meeting were Singapore's Deputy Secretary (Policy) Chua Siew San, its High Commissioner to Malaysia Ashok Kumar Mirpuri and its Policy Division officer Khoo Ee Ping.

This is the first visit by Teo since he took over as defence minister from Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam on Aug 1 this year.

During the 45-minute meeting, Abdullah and Teo discussed several issues including bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapura - Bernama

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