India and Malaysia chart a collective path for regional security, stability, and collaboration
India and Malaysia, two rapidly evolving Asian powers, have taken another important stride in fortifying their defence relationship. The 12th Malaysia-India Defence Cooperation Committee (MIDCOM) held on Tuesday (September 19, 2023) in India's capital New Delhi signals not just bilateral cooperation but a collective approach towards ensuring regional security and stability.

Leading the session from the Indian side was Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane, while Deputy Secretary General (Policy) Mohd Yani bin Daud represented Malaysia. A primary focus of the discussions was reviewing the decisions and strategies that emerged from two recent sub-committee meetings: the Military Cooperation Committee on July 27, 2023 and the Defence Science Technology and Industry Cooperation committee convened a day before this meeting, on September 18, 2023.

The Landscape of Defence Collaboration

Asia, with its geopolitical dynamics, is witnessing a shift in defence paradigms. Both India and Malaysia, understanding the importance of a cooperative stance in this environment, are keen to widen the horizons of their defence collaborations. The discussions during MIDCOM were expansive, covering mutual interests that ranged from immediate bilateral concerns to larger regional issues.

Their ambition to elevate defence engagements was highlighted by the agreement to form the Strategic Affairs Working Group (SAWG). The creation of the SAWG is strategic. By functioning as an intermediary consultative mechanism, it ensures that both sub-committee recommendations and MIDCOM's broader visions are synergized and implemented effectively.

Emerging Areas of Cooperation: Cybersecurity and More

In an era defined by digital advancements, cybersecurity has transcended from being a technical issue to a crucial aspect of national security. Recognizing this, both nations emphasized the significance of cooperation in cybersecurity. This focus is timely, given the increasing number of cyber threats that nations face, challenging both their security apparatus and economic stability.

Another aspect that emerged strongly was the importance of maritime security. Given the strategic locations of India and Malaysia, with significant coastlines and maritime interests, ensuring maritime security goes beyond national interest. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring regional trade security and freedom of navigation, underpinning economic growth for many Asian countries.

Defence industry collaborations and multilateral cooperation also featured prominently. In an interconnected world, building defence hardware and software in silos is no longer viable. There was a continual emphasis on the necessity for collaborative efforts to pool resources and expertise, leading to better outcomes.

Indian Defence Secretary's 8-Point Vision

Central to the meeting was the comprehensive 8-point proposal presented by Defence Secretary Aramane. The proposal aims to act as India's roadmap for deepening defence ties with Malaysia. It envisions a relationship that's not just restricted to high-level diplomatic engagements but permeates down to ground-level operations and strategic collaborations.

For instance, the emphasis on Tri-Service cooperation suggests a comprehensive approach to defence, involving land, sea, and air forces. Additionally, highlighting the role of Training and UN Peacekeeping intends to further India’s interests in upholding global peace through major alliances.

Potential of India's Defence Industry

India, over the years, has significantly upgraded its domestic defence industry. Understanding its potential, Aramane spotlighted its readiness to undertake collaborative projects with the Malaysian Armed Forces. A specific mention of shipbuilding and maintenance initiatives is noteworthy, especially given the maritime interests of both nations.

Malaysia's positively reciprocated to discussions surrounding co-design, co-production, and co-development in defence sectors, signalling mutual trust and a forward-looking approach to defence collaboration.

Reaffirming Strategic Partnership

At the core of these discussions and future collaborations lies the Enhanced Strategic Partnership. This partnership isn't just about defence engagements but is founded on deeper pillars of paralleled trust, shared democratic values, and a commitment to the rule of law. 

The Malaysian delegation's engagement with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) showcases a keen interest in tapping into India's defence research prowess. DRDO, with its long history of innovations and breakthroughs, offers numerous avenues for collaboration and is the ideal platform to further this gesture.

Furthermore, the delegation's scheduled visit to Mumbai's Mazagaon Dockyard Limited and the Western Naval Command Headquarters is a testament to the continuation of this dialogue and the many more engagements to come.
The 12th MIDCOM gathering transcends a mere diplomatic rendezvous. It stands as a vivid marker of the ascending significance of India-Malaysia ties in the theater of Asian defense. As these two nations chart their course ahead, these alliances promise to be the linchpin for regional equilibrium and safeguarding.