28th May 2021 21:03:42 Hours


The second day of the SASEAN Defence Chiefs ' Dialogue took place in Colombo on 28 November 2014 at the Waters Edge Hotel. The opening session explored a subject of growing relevance to security - globally, regionally and nationally - namely, the Impact of Extremism, Sectarianism and Insurgency propagated within and outside the Region on the Region. The insightful presentations were delivered by representatives from Bangladesh, China and Vietnam with the session being chaired by the representative from Pakistan. The presentations were followed by keen responses and rich deliberations. This was immediately followed by expressions of support from representatives of Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Brunei, Afghanistan, Philippines, China and Maldives toward the SASEAN regional security structure to combat the malaise and scourge of extremism, sectarianism and insurgency. The Chairperson of the session, General Rashad Mahmood PA from Pakistan projected that it is in Asia that the fate of global peace and security will be determined. Thus the relevance of the topics to the Asian region is apparent. Lt Gen Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy of the Bangladesh Army in his remarks, pointed out that extremism is not always denounced when undertaken by a State apparatus in the same way it is looked upon when undertaken by insurgents. He went on to say that South Asia provides the ideal breeding ground for extremism given that it encompasses one third of the global population and is clogged by issues like population explosion, under development and illiteracy. General Sarwardy pointed out that the lack of political consensus and a comprehensive collective strategy in South Asia has left the region ill-equipped to tackle these threats. He proposed the new concept of ‘Objective Multilateralism ' to maintain regional stability. M.G. Vu Tien Trong, Director of Institute for Defence and International Relations (IDIR) of Vietnam, in his remarks, opined that cooperation opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region has become progressively more dynamic seeing greater engagement of major powers. In an exposition of Vietnam 's key principles governing the resolution of territorial disputes, he identified the following: firstly, to remain determined to defend national sovereignty, territorial integrity and legitimate interests that are accepted by the international community; secondly, to measure the maintenance of regional peace and stability by regional states attaching greater importance to the role of multilateral mechanisms; and thirdly, through increased transparency of defence policies. Lieutenant General Wang Ning of China stated that strengthening cooperation and mutual support in disaster response is critical to ensuring regional stability. In particular, the natural disasters which are frequently occurring, have posed great challenges, calling militaries from all nations to work together in a spirit of common responsibility. In a series of lessons learned, Lieutenant General Wang Ning, identified the following: first, to ensure the establishment of an efficient commanding system as opposed to the conventional principle of "local domination”. Meanwhile, the military must also take part in the post-disaster reconstruction to help people in disaster-stricken areas to rebuild their homes and resume normalcy in their lives; second, the need to assure that professional rescue teams are ready and trained to be deployed in emergencies or disasters; third, to recognize the wisdom of providing effective and comprehensive support, particularly but not limited to information sharing, communication, mapping and navigation, meteorological and hydrological data and its careful organization. The second session of the day explored various aspects of maritime security, given the importance it carries as a potential space that connects the global world. Air Marshal PP Reddy VM addressed the gathering through an exposition of fundamental concepts of maritime security. He emphasized the importance of protecting territorial waters, exclusive economic zones and mutual cooperation, and preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in international waters together with combining search and rescue operations in order to address maritime challenges. He went on to identify the major threats posed to territorial waters as illegal fishing, smuggling, drug running, human trafficking, and terrorist attacks. He pointed out that despite the cost of IUU fishing being as high as $30 billion annually it pales in comparison with the economic, environmental and social consequences. Major General Ahmed Shiyam, representing Maldives pointed out that the issue of global warming and marine environmental threats are not limited to small islands alone. The importance of mechanisms of waste management and preventing water pollution were identified as critical to dealing with protecting the delicate marine environment. Highlighting the gravitas of drug trafficking that takes place through maritime channels, General Jagath Jayasuriya, Chief of Defence of Sri Lanka noted that "Drugs can defeat a country without waging a war.” Other key maritime security concerns raised for discussion by General Jayasuriya were anti piracy operations, arms smuggling, human trafficking and migrant smuggling. He then went on to make a call for proactive thinking and action to make the sea a safe place for all. Achieving regional integration with a global focus can be achieved through a combination of bilateral, trilateral and multilateral approaches. While defence cooperation must be accorded a priority, it must be willing to go beyond traditional models in order to secure the desired impact in a rapidly changing geo-political environment we see in the world today, concluded General Jagath Jayasuriya in his presentation. The proceedings for the day concluded with the Chief of Defence Staff of Sri Lanka, General Jagath Jayasuriya hosting the delegates to an evening of Sri Lankan culture and cuisine.