Minister of National Defence Tea Seiha has urged all ASEAN member states to continue to explore mechanisms for address emerging issues in the region.

Seiha made the call during the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) on November 15 in Jakarta, Indonesia, as the bloc defence ministers met to exchange views on regional and international issues of concerns and common interests. Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto chaired the meeting.

Addressing the gathering, Seiha noted that in line with the dynamic contributions of former and current ASEAN defence ministers, the body had always supported the cause of regional peace, stability, and prosperity based on the principles of ASEAN centrality, unity, mutual respect and common interests, all of which were crucial to building a strong and resilient ADMM.

“Defence Minister Tea Seiha called on the 17th ADMM to discuss ways to find solutions to all pressing issues in the region,” said a November 16 defence ministry press release.

“Subianto congratulated Cambodia and thanked it for “successfully” hosting the 16th ADMM in 2022. Following the meeting in Cambodia, he said Indonesia remains committed to continuing the outcomes that Cambodia achieved,” it added.

Subianto also welcomed the newly appointed defence ministers of Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

“Peace, stability and security are fundamental to economic growth,” Subianto was quoted as saying in the press release. 

“If security is not strong, it is impossible to attract investment and achieve stability in society for our people. As such, the ADMM aims to address security issues.

“The meeting continues to seek to increase and strengthen security infrastructure as well as promote global inclusiveness,” he added.

The two-day meeting from November 15-16 was held under the theme “Peace, Prosperity and Security”, and focused on discussions on enhancing defence cooperation and strengthening trust, capacity building, and regional resilience to address security challenges. The defence minister of Timor-Leste attended the meeting as an observer.

The meeting adopted the ADMM work programme 2023-2026, a concept paper on the implementation of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) from a defence perspective and another paper on harmonising ADMM and ADMM-Plus initiatives, as well as the Jakarta joint declaration of the ADMM for peace, prosperity and security.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that political security is one of ASEAN’s three important pillars, and that resolving regional issues is an excellent goal, because regional security contributes to ensuring respective national security stability and cooperation amongst ASEAN countries.

“It can be observed that ASEAN has been subject to the push-and-pull of regional security, especially with regards to the South China Sea, which affects regional security and could lead to ASEAN non-consensus.

“From a practical perspective, Cambodia does not participate in military exercises organised by Indonesia because in my opinion, Cambodia sees that there is no consensus on the South China Sea. 

“This is an issue that ASEAN must reconsider, as it affects individual national security, regional security, and ASEAN’s unity on global and regional issues,” he told The Post on November 16.

Peou suggested that the bloc must be able to resolve or engage, with a clear and sharp political will, in addressing emerging issues in the region itself, particularly on the issue in Myanmar.