SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Saturday (Dec 10) proposed that ASEAN and other countries in the region should "intensify efforts" to combine resources in the fight against terrorism.
Speaking at the Third Plenary Session at the 12th Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, Dr Ng noted that as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) lost ground in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters would attempt to return to their home countries to perpetrate attacks, spread ISIS’ extremist ideology and establish another self-proclaimed caliphate outside of the Middle East.
But while the problem transcends borders and nationality, Dr Ng added that more can be done within the region and internationally. “When we work together, it strengthens capabilities and interoperability, and demonstrates our shared commitment to counter terrorism in the region.”
“This approach is also scalable, and grows more effective as more players contribute,” he added.
Dr Ng added that the battle against extremist terrorism is, at its heart, an ideological one. “We need to counter ISIS’ spread of falsehoods and half-truths that have led astray many susceptible victims, many youngsters from around the world,” he said. “Behind each statistic are lives blighted and families torn apart.”
Organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Manama Dialogue is a key security forum for the Gulf Region and serves as a platform for senior defence, security and foreign affairs officials from around the world to discuss regional security challenges. Singapore has been attending the dialogue since its inception in 2004.
Dr Ng also had bilateral meetings with several leaders on the sidelines of the dialogue.