KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan stressed that there was no need for him to give speeches at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore; instead he prioritised bilateral talks with leaders of other countries.

He said that the bilateral talks, between the defence ministers and the leadership of the armed forces at the conference, were seen to be more effective in conveying Malaysia’s position on defence and national security issues than giving speeches.

“When we held a plenary session or a summit, we delivered speeches, and most of the country’s leaders were absent, there were only members of the public, students and others who attended.

“For me, I prioritise bilateral talks, and I managed to hold (bilateral talks) with 13 countries, among them... the United States Secretary of Defence, China’s Defence Minister and several European countries who are interested in knowing Malaysia’s position regarding the situation in the Indo-Pacific, the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea,” he said.

He said this to reporters during a visit to the media centre at the 2023 UMNO general assembly here today.

Mohamad was commenting on the statement of former health minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, who questioned the decision of the Rembau Member of Parliament not to give an address at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore.

According to Mohamad, some matters involving defence are not suitable to be highlighted to the general public, but rather it is better to discuss them bilaterally with interested individuals.

“It’s better if we hold bilateral talks; more beneficial than giving speeches to (only) university students and members of the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, another development, he also hoped that UMNO members would not be affected by the ‘talk’ of those who have been suspended or dismissed from the party.

“As I said at the opening speech of the party wings’ conferences, we can no longer afford to be divided.

“Stop taking jabs at each other. If there are suggestions and views for the betterment of the party, use the existing channels in the party for us to discuss and we will fix any weaknesses,” he said.-Bernama