Dr Ng Eng Hen, Singapore's Minister for Defence, shares his views about New Zealand's defence relationship with Singapore, and the role of defence and security in the Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership, which is currently being negotiated between the two countries.
OPINION: In 2015, New Zealand and Singapore marked the Golden Jubilee of diplomatic ties. In the last 50 years, our bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength, being deeply rooted in shared values, our historical past, and our common goals for the future.
New Zealand forces fought alongside Australian and British forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore during WWII. New Zealand Force South East Asia continued its presence in Singapore until 1989.
New Zealand is a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), reflecting its role as a key player in the security architecture of our region. Singapore and New Zealand, together with Australia and Brunei, successfully organised the 2016 ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise, the largest ADMM-Plus exercise ever conducted.
Singapore is deeply appreciative of the support for training opportunities accorded to the SAF by the New Zealand government. Earlier this year, former Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee and I witnessed the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Army’s artillery exercise – Exercise Thunder Warrior at Waiouru.
We also initiated discussions for the Royal New Zealand Air Force to host the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s training of fighter jets at Base Ohakea. The New Zealand people are wonderful hosts, generous and giving, and our troops have always returned from their training in New Zealand with wonderful memories of their friendliness and warm hospitality.
In the international arena, our militaries work together too. The Singapore Armed Forces joined the New Zealand Defence Force in peacekeeping efforts in East Timor, as well as in multinational stabilisation and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. A Singapore Armed Forces medical team is currently deployed alongside the New Zealand Defence Force again in Iraq as part of our contributions to the Defeat-ISIS coalition in 2017.
In the next 50 years, relations between our two countries will deepen even further.
As announced by our Foreign Ministers, discussions are underway towards a Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership, of which defence and security will continue to be a key component. The Enhanced Partnership is good for both our countries and for Asia.
Dr Ng Eng Hen is Singapore’s Minister of Defence and an Honorary Adviser to the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Views expressed in this article are personal to the author.
– Asia Media Centre