Defence Minister NG Eng Hen said that the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore will take place this year after a brief hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said this in a facebook post as the 9th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) Sherpa Meeting, kicked off ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue planned later this year.
"The Shangri-La Dialogue will resume this year, as more effective safety measures are in place and vaccinations ongoing," said Dr Ng in a Facebook post.
The Sherpa Meeting, during which ministers, senior defence officials, military officers and academics meet to discuss relevant security issues, typically takes place as a prelude to the main dialogue.
The defence summit that draws delegates from dozens of countries annually was cancelled last year amidst safety concerns due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Shangri-La Dialogue launched in 2002 is organised by Singapore’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and until the cancellation, last year, had been held annually on the island nation.
The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting kicked off in Singapore yesterday with more than 200 defence officials and non-governmental experts meeting both physically and through video conferencing.
Participants that attend the SLD Sherpa Meeting physically are required to abide by strict health and safety measures put in place for COVID-19, the Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) said in its press release.
These include daily pre-event Antigen Rapid Testing to ensure that all physical attendees are free from infection. Stringent precautionary measures such as safe distancing, mask-wearing, temperature-taking, cohorting and regular disinfection of common areas are enforced, MINDEF said.
Plexi-glass dividers were deployed at the conference venue as well as at the meal areas to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection as part of the SLD Sherpa Meeting Safe Management Measures.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad delivered a keynote address encouraging defence establishments to uphold multilateralism and enhance practical cooperation at the Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting.
Zaqy spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the multilateral system. He highlighted that experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that no country can tackle and overcome this global health crisis alone, and emphasised the importance of all countries working together to address public health crises and other transnational security threats.
Amidst these common challenges, Zaqy said that multilateral dialogue and cooperation have become even more salient today than before – defence establishments can play a role to strengthen existing multilateral frameworks, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus, and work out protocols with national authorities for the gradual and safe resumption of defence and military interactions.
The SLD Sherpa Meeting strengthens the SLD by providing an inter-sessional platform for delegates to engage in frank discussions on current defence and security issues.
This year's SLD Sherpa Meeting is held from 18 to 19 January in a hybrid format, with 26 country delegations and the European Union.
Singapore-based delegates are attending the meeting at the Fullerton Hotel, and the international delegates are attending the dialogue virtually.
Widely recognised as Asia-Pacific's foremost defence and security summit, the SLD brings together defence ministers, senior officials and security experts to exchange views on key issues that shape the defence and security landscape of the region.