Securing Regional Waters: Q&A with Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia

Jun. 06, 2007


Sunday 3 June 2007



Professor Juwono Sudarsono, Minister of Defence, Indonesia

Hon Hermogenes E Ebdane Jr, Secretary of National Defense, The Philippines

Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka

Questions & Answers

Dr John Chipman

Minister, thank you very much. Well if we look across at the three presentations that have been made, I think we have three broad questions to address during the 40 minutes or so we have for questions. Juwono Sudarsono emphasised in his remarks the requirement to link-up south east Asia and east Asia in the battle against threats to maritime security and that the military to military links between south-east Asia and east Asia for this purpose had to be improved, so that raises the question of how wide can the cooperation be on maritime security.

Hermogenes Ebdane talked about the importance of pre-emption and prevention in confronting the maritime security threat, the role of the armed forces in the Philippines also to support national development. He called for joint action to secure the seas, and so that raises the question of how integrated can the cooperation be?

Minister Bogollagama from Sri Lanka underscored throughout his talk the naval strength of the Sea Tigers and the increasing threat that they have posed to international shipping, including through the technique of suicide attacks, citing even the need of Indian and more divine forces to confront LTTE naval activity, and that raises the question of how more sophisticated can the piracy threat become


So those are the issues on the agenda for our discussion and I will invite interventions from the floor and I will give some presence to those who in past sessions I have had to skip over for lack of time. First amongst them, I feel, was Admiral Prakash from India, so please do intervene now. Thank you. If you could raise your name plate for a moment. Thank you very much. Proceed.

Admiral Arun Prakash – India

Thank you Lord Chipman. I would like to address my remarks to the Minister of Defence of Indonesia for his consideration.

Sir, you made mention of China, Japan and the pacific command of the US Navy as far as the role in your region is concerned. You dwelt very briefly on the role of your own country and that also in respect of the Malacca Straits. Also you confine your remarks largely to East Asia.

Your own country is a huge Archipelagic nation whose dependence on the sea is tremendous. The sea is a medium of communication, there is much happening in those waters which must be of concern to you. You have straits and waterways running through the Archipelago and, therefore, you have an obligation to the larger regional land, the international maritime community.

There was a time when you had a very powerful and substantive navy in the 50s and 60s. There was also a phase when you had so much interest in the oceans around you that there was talk of the ocean being named the Indonesian Ocean. We have no argument with that. We did not name it the Indian Ocean.

So what I am coming to is that there are concerns and there is a larger, much larger role that a country like yours has to play. At the moment my navy and your navy are working together in coordinated patrols because there are areas of concern in south Asia as the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister has brought out.

So may I draw you out into articulating a larger vision, a larger maritime vision for your navy which you must have because your country and mine have a contribution to make in this area. I think the Sri Lankan ministers talk was a monumental lesson in the importance of maritime security because he has an island nation which is today in dire straits because, forgive me for saying so, but they neglected maritime security because every single bullet, every gun that the LTTE has today has come by sea. They even have a small so-called air force. They have got a couple of light aircraft and they must have come by ships and had they been more vigilant at sea or had somebody contributed to their maritime security, the situation would not have arisen today.

So may I have your views on what I have just said, minister?

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