Southeast Asia faces threats from Daesh, cyber-attacks, summit hears

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers his opening address at the 32nd ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Singapore on April 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 April 2018
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Southeast Asia faces threats from Daesh, cyber-attacks, summit hears

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia faces “very real” threats from Daesh despite their defeat in the Middle East, as well as cyber-attacks, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned Saturday as he opened a regional summit.
Parts of the 10-country region, encompassing about 650 million people, have long struggled with Islamic militancy and the emergence of Daesh has served as a new rallying point for radicals and re-energised extremist groups.
A deadly gun and suicide-bombing attack in Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2016 was the first Daesh-claimed assault in the region, while the Philippine city of Marawi was overrun last year by fighters loyal to the extremists, triggering a months-long battle that killed hundreds.
Fears are also growing that Southeast Asia, which is home to booming economies where a growing number of people are adopting digital technology in their everyday lives, could be increasingly targeted by cyberattackers.
Opening the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, Lee warned that Daesh continues to threaten the region despite their military defeat in Iraq and Syria, while the move toward digitalization has made countries more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
“Southeast Asia is at peace, but these threats are very real,” he said.
“We need to be resilient to both conventional threats, and also non-conventional threats such as terrorism and cyberattacks.”
The leaders at a working dinner Friday ahead of their formal summit agreed to increase coordination in cybersecurity.
Lee also warned that the open global trading system, which has allowed many of the region’s export-driven economies to flourish, has come under increasing threat due to protectionist policies in major economies.
“The political mood in many countries has shifted against free trade,” he warned.
“In particular, the trade tensions between the US and China are worrying concerns.”
Washington and Beijing have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods which analysts said could escalate into a global trade war and scupper global growth.
Lee said the answer to such rising protectionism is for ASEAN to further push for the deeper integration of their economies and bolster cooperation in other fields.
“Individually, the ASEAN member states will find it hard to make much impact on their own,” Lee said.
“But when we speak in one collective ASEAN voice, we can be effective.”
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Trump signs ‘Space Force’ directive

The creation of Space Force is by no means a done deal, as it must be vetted and approved by Congress. (AP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Trump signs ‘Space Force’ directive

  • The forces is to protect satellites
  • The order calls for Congress to draft legislation that would establish it

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump signed an order Tuesday outlining his vision for a new “Space Force” that could one day become a separate military branch on an equal footing to the Army and Navy.
Trump wants to create a space force to protect satellites, tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.
“We have to be prepared,” Trump told reporters after signing the directive.
“My administration has made the creation of a space force a national security issue.”
Space Force would be the sixth branch of the military alongside the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.
The order calls for Congress to draft legislation that would establish Space Force as a branch that falls under the Air Force, similar to how the Navy oversees the Marine Corps.
Defense Department spokesman Charlie Summers said the Pentagon would submit its legislative proposal within the coming weeks.
With the new directive, “Trump is posturing the United States to compete, deter, and win in a complex multi-domain environment characterized by great power competition,” Summers said in a statement.
The Air Force said a space force would work “to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces.”
But the creation of Space Force is by no means a done deal, as it must be vetted and approved by Congress.
Lawmakers and defense officials have reacted with skepticism, wary of the cost and added bureaucracy.
Space plays a vital role in just about every aspect of modern warfare, with many military technologies reliant on a network of orbiting sensors and satellites, and the Pentagon has warned that countries such as Russia and China are working to build anti-satellite capabilities.