SINGAPORE, June 4 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak met all the criteria when he was chosen as the opening speaker at the 10th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, said IISS director-general and chief executive, Dr John Chipman.
“We knew then, that this would be a very special summit. When the IISS began to consider who should be the opening speaker for the 10th Shangri-La Dialogue, and consulted with our host country, Singapore, there were several criteria that we thought had to be met,” he said at the opening of the summit here last night where Najib delivered a keynote address.
Firstly, Chipman said, the person had to be in a position to make a strong intellectual contribution to their discussions by setting the tone on the opening night and providing an original perspective on security challenges.
He said the person had to have a strong appreciation of the Shangri-La Dialogue ethos, preferably forged through direct experience of the summit on a number of occasions.
Thirdly, the person had to be a personal champion of defence diplomacy and of the advantages to be gained by open dialogue and information-sharing.
“Finally, and very important, the person has to be a regional head of government.
“Naturally, only one name for this 10th Shangri-La Dialogue, met these criteria – and what an impressive name it is — (Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak).
“The prime minister of Malaysia attended the Shangri-La Dialogue no less than six times as defence minister; always using this occasion to advance a new policy idea, was the first host of the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting and has, as we all know, a well-cultivated strategic outlook,” Chipman said.
Touching on the Shangri-La Dialogue, he said IISS launched this effort at the transnational defence diplomacy in 2002, with the aim of providing a unique forum for vigorous defence diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
The three-day summit which kicked off on Friday brings together representatives of its 28 member countries from the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.
Among those attending are US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and China’s Defence Minister, General Liang Guanglie, who is leading a delegation to the dialogue for the first time.
Providing the opportunity for sharing of information and exchanging of views on confidence-building and practical security cooperation in response to contemporary and emerging security challenges, the dialogue has attracted 30 defence delegations, the largest so far.
Chipman said the dialogue had produced not just policy statements but policy initiatives, and not just talk of consultation but plans for improved cooperation.
“The delegates and ministers attending the Shangri-La Dialogue have never sought confrontation, but equally never shunned controversy, and the result has been a genuinely more transparent debate on the most sensitive of security and defence subjects.
“As it involves not just governments and officials, but also leading strategists, thinkers and commentators, the dialogue responds elegantly to the urgent need for the full engagement of the private sector and civil society in the consideration of public policy,” he said.
Source : Bernama