Minister of Defense Prabowo: ASEAN a balancing force in Indo-Pacific

Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto emphasizes defense stability in the "6th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Plus" in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday (18 November 2019). (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Bangkok – Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto emphasized defense stability in the “6th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus” in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday (18/11/2019). ADMM Plus is a forum where the ASEAN Ministers of Defense meet with counterparts from eight significant partner countries, i.e. United States, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Russia.

At the meeting, Prabowo stated his views on threats, challenges, and issues developing in the region. According to him, both traditional and non-traditional threats remain of concern, especially those relating to terrorism, theft of natural resources, arms smuggling, drug abuse, disease, and cyber & intelligence issues. He also mentioned potential confrontations and conflicts in the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula. “The development of regional defense is also colored with the rise and fall of great powers. Issues concerning the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula also affect the stability of regional defense” he said.

Prabowo stated that Indonesia appreciates positive developments concerning the South China Sea, specifically the agreement to finalize a Code of Conduct (CoC). He believes that everyone in the region should jointly resolve the South China Sea dispute, promoting regional stability in order to keep communications and trade routes obstruction-free. On a positive note, there have been some hopeful developments concerning North Korea: the country has improved communications with South Korea and the United States. Furthermore, management of Rakhine State in Myanmar has also improved.

Prabowo expanded on his statement by saying that ASEAN must serve as a balancing force and liaison in the Indo-Pacific region, working through the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Outlook, in order to forestall any temptation toward power domination in the region. “ASEAN, with its neutrality and centralized position, urges all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to take joint responsibility towards the security of the region,” he said.

He further stated that the Indo-Pacific region does not simply belong to ASEAN, but rather to the globe in general. Furthermore, Indo-Pacific must be open and do its best to benefit all countries within its territory. “We must not perceive Indo-Pacific as a mere ‘free’ and ‘open’ area, but we must also ensure that it has the characteristics of inclusiveness, transparency and comprehensiveness that would yield long-term benefits to all countries in the region. We must base all these on a joint commitment to bring about a common peace, stability, and prosperity,” he said.

Prabowo hopes that the ADMM Plus meeting will generate something beneficial in the interest of joint defense cooperation within ASEAN in the future. “For Indonesia, ASEAN is a beneficial forum for the peace, stability, and development in our region. Through ASEAN’s political and defense pillars, we will also be able to strengthen the security of Southeast Asia, which will in turn improve the prosperity of countries in the region,” he said.

Apart from the great ADMM Plus meeting in Bangkok, Prabowo also held bilateral meetings with Ministers of Defense from a number of countries, for example, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, who represented the Thai Premier in the Meeting, in his capacity as the Minister of Defense. Prabowo also held bilateral meetings with the Minister of Defense of the Philippines, the Minister of Defense of Vietnam, the Minister of Defense of Brunei Darussalam, the Minister of Defense of Laos, and the Secretary of Defense of the United States.

“In each of these bilateral meetings, the Ministers of Defense discussed defense cooperation between the countries that they represent, including cooperating in marine training and patrols to mitigate the threat of terrorism,” said Special Staff of the Minister of Defense in Public Communications and Inter-Agency Relations Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, in a statement on Saturday (16/11/2019).

Prabowo also introduced Indonesia’s defense system in the Meeting. He even stated that the Philippines has expressed satisfaction with Indonesia’s ships. “In the meeting with these Ministers of Defense, Minister Prabowo did not forget to introduce our defense industries, especially State-owned Enterprise Pindad. The Philippine Minister of Defense specifically expressed appreciation of Indonesia’s ships and his satisfaction with them. Minister of Defense Prabowo himself hopes that the Philippines will purchase more tanks from Pindad,” Dahnil said. (des)