The 'United States Factor' in Southeast Asia: The Philippine and Singaporean (Re)assesments HuffPost 2nd Jan 2018
Despite reports on the unpredictability of Washington’s Asia policy, the Trump Administration, through telephone diplomacy, high-level bilateral visits, attendance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), East Asian Summit (EAS) and bilateral meetings in Vietnam and the Philippines, has displayed a “post-pivot” US commitment to the region and its multilateral initiatives. Despite this, its engagement framed by collective action on North Korea, and a lack of specific concrete regional cooperatives, plays into Southeast Asia’s long-term anxiety. This anxiety is addressed by Southeast Asian leaders recalibrating their external engagements, including relations with the United States, in their strategic pursuit of policy maneuverability, autonomy, and prosperity. The cases of the Philippines and Singapore highlight how regional countries are coping with “The United States Factor”.
Philippines, Indonesia agree to strengthen maritime patrols along porous borders Arab News 10th Jan 2018
The Philippines and Indonesia have agreed to intensify patrol operations amid the threat of terrorism in the region. This was the consensus reached during the 36th Republic of the Philippines–Republic of Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s Conference held in Davao City Jan. 8-9. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, chief, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), led the Philippine delegation, while Rear Admiral Didik Setiyono, commander of the Eastern Fleet Command, headed the Indonesian one. The Committees deliberated on matters of common concern to both countries.
Weapons producer eyes Rp 2.9 trillion in revenue for 2018 The Jakarta Post 10th Jan 2018
State-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad is aiming for Rp 2.9 trillion (US$203 million) in revenue this year, said Pindad president director Abraham Mose in Bandung on Tuesday.
Jokowi swears in new chief of national cyber agency The Jakarta Post 3rd Jan 2018
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instated Djoko Setiadi as the chairman of the newly established National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN), responsible for the nation's cyberspace. Djoko, former chairman of the National Encryption Agency (Lemsaneg), was sworn in at the State Palace on Wednesday.
Indonesia Steps Up Multilateral Security Cooperation Jakarta Globe 1st Jan 2018
Jakarta. Indonesia adopted several approaches in 2017 to step up security and tackle emerging threats to peace and stability affecting not only itself, but also the region. The hostile takeover by Islamic militants of Marawi City in the southern Philippines in May prompted stronger trilateral cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and that country, leading to the development of a joint implementation of counterterrorism measures and strategies.
Laos and Cambodia to Increase Defense Cooperation The Laotian Times 16th Jan 2018
Laos and Cambodia have pledged to boost security and stability between the two countries, and prevent military confrontations along their shared border. Cambodian Defense Minister General Tea Banh made an official visit to Laos this week, and was received by Lao Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath. During talks, the two ministers vowed to bring unity and cooperation between the two countries and their respective armed forces. A special mention was made of the border area in Stung Treng Province in Cambodia, and Attapeu Province in Laos, where Cambodian troops were mobilized last year after a misunderstanding led to military tensions.
China, Myanmar to further military cooperation for border stability Xinhua 12th Jan 2018
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said Friday China is willing to strengthen military cooperation with Myanmar to maintain the stability in border areas. Chang made the remarks while meeting the visiting Admiral Tin Aung San, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar navy. He said that China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar, and supports the country in its development path in accordance with its own conditions.
Philippine brass up in arms on the South China Sea Asia Times 15th Jan 2018
Under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s chairmanship of Asean in 2017, the regional bloc maintained that the situation in the South China Sea was generally stable, meaning there was no need for confrontation or criticism of China’s activities, though Vietnam lobbied for a firmer collective response. The Duterte administration insisted that the disputes are best resolved among claimant countries on a bilateral basis, discouraging intervention by external actors and the broader international community. Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei all have competing claims with China in the area.
Kim: US to continue flight, naval operations Inquirer 11th Jan 2018
The United States will continue to conduct naval operations and overflights in the South China Sea amid China’s reported continuing fortification of man-made islands in the disputed sea. US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said such operations were meant to ensure freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea, where seven nations including the Philippines have overlapping claims. Asked how the US posed a deterrent to prevent China from continuing to build in the South China Sea, Kim said the US was “doing everything possible” to ensure freedom of navigation and freedom of flight in the vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year. “Our role now is best performed in making sure to protect those important international rights… and that we continue to do in a variety of ways including conducting freedom of navigation operations,” Kim said.
What Will a New Philippines Coast Guard Chief Mean? The Diplomat 10th Jan 2018
Last week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte finally officially confirmed the appointment of a new chief for the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG). The appointment fills a position that has been left vacant for quite a while and comes as the Southeast Asian state continues to face a range of daunting challenges in the maritime space. Though the Philippines, like some of its other neighboring Southeast Asian states, has been placing an increasing emphasis on the development of its coast guard, its overall capabilities still remain quite limited to cover 7,000 islands with a tenth of the world’s coastline.
Singapore aerospace industry transformation map eyes 1,000 new jobs by 2020 The Straits Times 17th Jan 2018
A new aerospace industry transformation map (ITM) that could create 1,000 new jobs in the sector by 2020 has been launched. Developed by a multi-agency team together with industry partners, unions and trade associations, the ITM sets out strategies to build an aerospace industry catered for the future. The ITM is expected to generate a total of S$4 billion in value-added to the industry. On Wednesday (Jan 17), Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran launched the aerospace ITM, as Seletar Aerospace Park celebrates its 10th anniversary. The aerospace park will have a series of student outreach initiatives to groom future talent, and new phases of development. The ITM has identified three key areas: pursuing operational excellence, driving innovation in emerging technologies, and equipping Singaporeans with relevant skills. The aerospace ITM is the 17th of the 23 road maps that the Government has unveiled. By March this year, the Government plans to launch the remaining road maps. In a statement on Wednesday, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said the aerospace industry is a key sector of growth for the economy, with an average annual growth of 7 per cent in value-add over the past 20 years.
Future of the Thailand Defense Industry – Market Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2022 – Military Aerospace and Defense Industries – MilTech Miltech 19th Jan 2018
Thailand, the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, witnessed defense budget growth of 1.11% over 2013-2017. The country aims to modernize its military equipment in order to sustain its military capabilities and maintain acceptable readiness levels in line with other countries around the world. The escalation of the arms race in the ASEAN region (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), due to massive military expenditure by China and India, and territorial conflicts with adjoining nations, are the key factors driving Thailand’s defense expenditure. With this trend expected to continue over the forecast period, the country’s defense expenditure is projected to reach US$7.7 Billion by 2022. Defense capital expenditure is expected to increase to US$3.5 Billion over the forecast period till 2022. The country’s defense revenue expenditure is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.00% over the forecast period to reach US$4.2 Billion by 2022. Thailand is expected to allocate half of its total budget to its army, with expenditure on the navy, air force, and others sectors accounting for an average of 19.6%, 18.6%, and 12.2% respectively.
What’s Behind the New US-Thailand Military Facility Hype? The Diplomat 4th Jan 2018
This week, The Bangkok Post cited an anonymous Thai defense source as saying that the United States had planned to set up a military arms maintenance center in Thailand. Though U.S. officials have officially denied this and specifics remain unclear, this new report represents yet another manifestation of old sensitivities around such military facilities and broader enduring realities that have long dogged the U.S.-Thailand alliance. Despite the sensationalism that often surrounds the idea of such arms facilities, in fact it is not uncommon for them to be built as part of a more robust bilateral defense relationship, whether for just the logistical purposes of maintenance or to facilitate other elements of partnership such as the transfer of technology and knowledge or even exports to other regional markets.
Defence rolled into S-curve efforts of EEC Bangkok Post 18th Jan 2018
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) committee will add defence to the 10 S-curve industries it had previously selected as targets for development, in a bid to enhance the local defence industry's technology and R&D capabilities. The committee will submit the proposal to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the EEC committee, for approval on Feb 1, said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office. Mr Kanit said the government wants to produce more of the country's security gear at home, while importing new weapons and technology from overseas.
No military depot, says US Bangkok Post 4th Jan 2018
The United States Embassy in Bangkok denied yesterday that Washington has sought to build a military service depot in Thailand but a source close to the matter insisted the rumour was both credible and accurate. No such proposal was made by the United States at the recently concluded 4th Defence Strategic Talks (DSTs), according to Jillian Bonnardeaux, a spokeswoman for the embassy. Ms Bonnardeaux was referring to a front page story published in the Bangkok Post on Jan 3 titled "US seeks to build military service depot".
CSD commandos to get advanced weaponry in 2018 Bangkok Post 31st Dec 2017
The Crime Suppression Division (CSD)'s special operations or commando unit, now armed with a 2018 budget of 200 million baht, will be equipped with modern weapons equivalent to those used by police in the United States and European countries to better cope with crimes and terrorism, said unit commander Pol Col Torsak Sukwimol. Pol Col Torsak said that last year the commando unit was allocated a budget of about 40 million baht to acquire weapons and other equipment, including vehicles, via the Royal Thai Police (RTP)'s Quartermaster Division. Over the past year, he said, the unit has successfully carried out operations that ranged from house searches and drug suppression to the arrest of gunmen protected by influential politicians at both local and national levels.
PM defends changes to security law Bangkok Post 23rd Dec 2017
The recent amendment to the security law governing the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) was to give the agency a legal tool to help it effectively mitigate natural disaster threats, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted yesterday. Gen Prayut stressed the change to the law, which took effect last month, was not politically motivated as suggested by critics but was introduced to facilitate Isoc operations in the area of natural disaster mitigation. Gen Prayut invoked his Section 44 powers last month to amend internal security legislation to set up the Internal Security Administration Committee to help Isoc deal with domestic threats.
Thais, Laos step up security ties Bangkok Post 22nd Dec 2017
Thailand and Laos have agreed to step up cooperation to identify and locate people considered to be threats to the security of both nations, a Thai defence spokesman says. The agreement was reached when Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon met Lao Defence Minister Chansamone Chanyalath in Vientiane to attend the 24th meeting of the Thai-Lao General Border Committee (GBC) yesterday, Kongcheep Tantrawanit said. They discussed improving cooperation on overall security issues and agreed to boost cooperation against illicit drugs and "groups of people who threaten the security", Lt Gen Kongcheep said.
VN expects better international integration vietnamnews.vn 16th Jan 2018
Actively and proactively promoting a favourable environment for development and international integration is the main theme for the diplomatic sector this year, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh. Speaking at a meeting held in Hà Nội yesterday to review diplomatic tasks in 2017 and set out goals for 2018, Minh said the key task for this year was continuing to maintain a peaceful and stable environment and drawing on more outside resources to help promote sustainable development.
Party leader praises security sector vietnamnews.vn 16th Jan 2018
General Secretary of the Communist Party, Nguyễn Phú Trọng, has urged the public security sector to improve forecast and analysis work for the prevention and early detection of threats to national interests and security - and any act of sabotage. Speaking at a two-day conference held by the Ministry of Public Security in Hà Nội yesterday to review the performance of the sector and outline tasks for 2018, the Party leader said steps must be taken to protect information, cyber and economic security and effectively counter hostile and false information, especially on the Internet.
Vietnam high-level military delegation visits Laos VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 15th Jan 2018
A high-level military delegation led by Minister of Defence General Ngo Xuan Lich is paying an official visit to Laos from January 15-17. The visit was made at the invitation of Lao Minister of National Defence Senior Lieutenant General Chansamone Chanyalath.
Defence cooperation contributes to Vietnam-Japan relations VietNamNet 9th Jan 2018
Sen. Lieut. Gen. Phan Van Giang, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), made the statement at a reception in Hanoi on January 8 for Chief of Staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Gen. Koji Yamazaki. Gen. Koji Yamazaki said that he is delighted at visiting and learning about Vietnamese land and people and the VPA. Earlier, he held talks with Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the VPA Lieut. Gen. Pham Hong Huong, during which they discussed cooperation orientations between the two forces, especially in the participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions, humanitarian relief, disaster settlement and military medicine collaboration.
Uber, Grab under tighter supervision vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2018
The Ministry of Transport has submitted the draft of a new circular that includes regulations for passenger transport (by car) through software such as Uber and Grab. “Adjustments in the new circular would like to balance the management of passenger transport with electronic contracts through software such as Uber and Grab and traditional taxis as well as to be appropriate with the demands of practical management,” Minister Nguyễn Văn Thể told the Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper. The new circular will request transport companies to meet 10 conditions, including: having a business licence or business registered certification to do electronic business and having certification from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) confirming that applicants have completed registration (both Uber and Grab haven’t met this requirement yet).
Party chief asks for stronger army VietNamNet 1st Jan 2018
Attending a political-military conference for the entire army in Hanoi on December 26, Trong, who is also Secretary of the Central Military Commission, stressed the need to strengthen the nation’s defence potential. The military should coordinate closely with ministries, sectors and localities in building defensive zones and defence planning in combination with socio-economic development nationwide, he instructed. The Party leader also requested the military to intensify collaboration with the police and other forces in the fight against crime, smuggling and trade fraud along the borderline and at sea to ensure social security and order, and to stay ready to take part in search and rescue missions.