Singapore’s defense minister is in Brunei this week as the two countries commemorate the 40th anniversary of their defense ties.
According to Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen is in Brunei for a two-day visit that began on Monday.
During the trip, Ng will meet with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and other ministers including Crown Prince Ah Muhtadee Billah. His program will also include witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding on defense technology cooperation between Singapore and Brunei.
Ng will also visit Exercise Pelican, the flagship bilateral naval exercise between the two countries that began in 1979. As I wrote before, the last iteration of the exercise between the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) involved, among other things, tactical discussions and simulation exercises in naval warfare – including anti-surface, anti-submarine, and anti-air operations – as well as professional sharing to deepen operational knowledge in areas like naval aviation and patrols (“Singapore, Brunei Conclude Naval Exercise”).
Singapore-Brunei relations have been in the spotlight during this month leading up to Ng’s visit. In mid-August, Prince Abdul Malik paid a five-day visit to Singapore where he met with several officials including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean. Topics discussed included security-related developments, and he also visited the Police Operations Command Center and the Home Team Tactical Center (HTTC), where he witnessed a counterterrorism demonstration exercise and was briefed on Singapore’s security situation at the National Security Coordination Secretariat.
There have also been a series of more specific defense-related interactions. Last week, the Singapore Police Coast Guard (SPCC) and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) began a sail training exercise to improve coastal patrol operations and crime prevention (See: “Singapore, Brunei Hold Maritime Exercise”). And during his visit to Singapore from August 15 to August 17, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Land Forces BG Pengiran Dato Aminan was also conferred a prestigious military award.