SINGAPORE: With the rise of transnational crime and terrorism in the region, countries need to continually work together to build a safer and more secure ASEAN, said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the opening ceremony for the 37th ASEANAPOL (ASEAN Police) Conference on Wednesday (Sep 13).
In his speech, Mr Teo highlighted that using technology and IT solutions can enhance "timely information sharing" to help address three common challenges ASEAN nations face - the threat of terrorism, cybercrime and drugs.
Mr Teo added that with the Islamic State militant group trying to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia, and more militants returning from Syria and Iraq, the threat for the region has been the "highest in recent years".
"We must therefore coordinate more closely among the law enforcement agencies in ASEAN to facilitate the timely exchange of intelligence and biometric information of known fighters," said Mr Teo.
In a significant step towards working together, Singapore's Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam launched at the event an upgraded ASEANAPOL Database System 2.0 (e-ADS 2.0) that allows police forces in ASEAN to exchange intelligence and crime information
The database was first launched in 2006, and the development of an upgraded system was endorsed by ASEAN Police forces at the 36th ASEANAPOL Conference in 2016.
The e-ADS 2.0 system has several new features including an e-library with literature and multi-media content, a discussion forum, an events calendar and an announcement portal. The upgraded system also allows for faster connectivity.
DPM Teo also highlighted a recent joint operation with INTERPOL as an example of the cooperation needed to combat the rise of cybercrime across the ASEAN region.
He added that investigators identified nearly 9,000 command-and-control servers found to be spreading malware and hundreds of websites, which included government portals, were compromised.
"Singapore will continue to catalyse capability development among our fellow ASEAN members, for instance through supporting Cybercrime Investigation Training Programmes. Earlier this year, Singapore also launched a new US$7.5 million ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme to help build a secure and resilient ASEAN cyberspace," Mr Teo said.
He also highlighted the "troubling" trend of a rise in methamphetamine production and overseas syndicates which are involved in drug trafficking in ASEAN countries.
"We have taken a united stand as ASEAN when our ASEAN Ministers delivered strong statements on our zero tolerance at last year's United Nations General Assembly Special Session ... we can build on this momentum to strengthen our collaboration to prevent harm from illicit drugs - in intelligence gathering, conducting joint operations and working upstream," Mr Teo added.