Singapore is keen on expanding cooperation with India in the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, its Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen said on Wednesday.
“We all recognise that the Strait of Malacca and the Indian Ocean are key sea lanes of communication... I think I speak on behalf of both countries, we want to see more participation and activity in both the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea,” he said at the joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman after the second defence ministerial dialogue.
His comments are significant as the Strait of Malacca is a critical choke point of global commerce and is seen by China as a vulnerability of its energy supplies.
Early this year, the Indian Navy permanently deployed a frontline warship at the mouth of the Strait of Malacca to keep an eye on increasing Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean.
Dr. Ng said it made sense for countries to cooperate not only to establish maritime security but to maintain freedom of navigation because “we know it is lifeline for economies”.
Welcomes Indian Navy to use their facilities
He also welcomed the Indian Navy to use their naval facilities for operational turnaround.
“I not only support but I would encourage the Indian Navy to visit the Changi naval base more often. The bilateral naval agreement has a provision for mutual logistical support,” he stated.
This would allow greater Indian presence near the contested waters of the South China Sea. The ministerial dialogue saw the conclusion of India-Singapore bilateral agreement for navy cooperation that will allow cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other’s naval facilities and mutual logistics support.
The two Ministers also agreed to institutionalise naval engagements in the shared maritime space, including establishing maritime exercises with like-minded countries and ASEAN partners, a joint statement said.
“We will exercise and patrol in your waters as you do in ours. We try to economise and support each other,” Dr. Ng added.