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ASEAN Community Must Understand Non-Traditional Security Threats

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KUALA LUMPUR – The ASEAN community, especially Malaysians, must understand that non-traditional security threats, if not effectively tackled, can jeopardise national security and sovereignty.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Dr Azmi Hassan said it was important for people in this region to understand what was meant by non-traditional security threat as they were unaware that it was rampant in their societies.

“Non-traditional security threats are something which are rarely given attention by society, but if it happens, it can threaten the nation or the surrounding areas, and even create conflicts in relations between nations.

“In the ASEAN context, such as in human trafficking, it is not a problem of national security, but it can threaten the sovereignty and relations between two countries,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.

Azmi said the intrusions in Lahad Datu, Sabah in 2013 were examples how non-traditional security threats became bloody incidences which threatened a nation’s security and sovereignty.

“About 20 years ago, the presence of foreigners was not a security threat but now this could disrupt security, resulting in us having to form the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom),” he said.

He said the increase in the number of Malaysians and other nationalities, involved in the activities of the IS militant group as they were influenced by ideologies which were supposedly based on religion, was proof on how non traditional security threats could be proned to extremism.

“We can categorise the IS militant group as a non-traditional threat, the IS is not a formal group or nation or organisation,” he said.

Azmi added this was why it was important for ASEAN to be united to resolve the issue effectively, including by sharing intelligence information.

Meanwhile, Universiti Utara Malaysia’s (UUM) Dean of the College of Law, Government & International Studies associate professor Dr Ahmad Marthada Mohamed said Malaysia as chairman of ASEAN 2015 had an advantage as it was known for unity and harmony in a multi-racial society.

He said as a nation which had diplomatic power, Malaysia could play a bigger role in tackling security issues, whether these were non traditional or traditional threats.

“We must have cooperation between ASEAN nations, especially in resolving current issues which affect all of us.

“As chairman of ASEAN, we have a good chance to put forward a policy which has long been practised here, which is moderation and tolerance,” he said.

ASEAN’s members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. – BERNAMA

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