London, United Kingdom (CU)_ The United Kingdom and its four Commonwealth allies in Asia and the Pacific have revealed plans to extend and renew the Five Powers Defense Arrangement (FPDA). The FPDA is a chain of mutual assistance agreements involving Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom that dates back to 51 years.
Primarily, the agreement demands its members to communicate with one another in case of a threat of armed assault against one of the FPDA’s members and to jointly determine how to deal with the issue and whether joint or separate action should be taken. There is no legal requirement to intervene militarily.
The FPDA treaty was drafted in 1971, following the termination of British defense guarantees, which was then known as Malaya. The problem emerged during a meeting of five Defense Ministers, who act as the FPDA’s governing body, on the sidelines of the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue, which ended in Singapore recently.
According to the statement from Singapore Ministry of Defense, “At the Five-nation Defense Ministers Meeting or FDMM, Ministers discussed ways to deepen cooperation that existed in conventional jurisdictions, as well as foster cooperation in unconventional and developing areas, to ensure that FPDAs remain relevant in addressing contemporary security challenges”.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s senior defense minister, warned the gathering that his main fear is that unnecessary events and mishaps may spiral out of control and become more severe than they actually are. Without mentioning any specific nations, he said that the region’s most serious security risks are a potential Chinese invasion on Taiwan and a nuclear missile mishap involving North Korea. Hussein said, “If these platforms [such as the FPDA] did not exist, there wouldn’t be any opportunity to manage incidents that do sometimes go out of control”.
In addition to Hussein, the meeting was attended by Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s Minister of Defense; Richard Marles, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense; Peeni Henare, New Zealand’s Minister of Defense; and Kara Owen, the British High Commissioner to Singapore. Each of the five members confirmed their commitment to the FPDA. According to Marles, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, “Australia is deeply committed to the FPDA. It’s not something we take for granted.”