Five British Commonwealth powers with forces in Southeast Asia met in London on Thursday (15 April) to approve a new collective defence system for the security of Malaysia and Singapore.
Five British Commonwealth powers with forces in Southeast Asia met in London on Thursday (15 April) to approve a new collective defence system for the security of Malaysia and Singapore. British Prime Minister Edward Heath opened the two-day conference in London's Marlborough House. he told the ministerial representatives attending that Britain's military presence would not be the predominant feature of the five-power defence arrangements, but it would be a worthwhile practical contribution.
Attending the conference at the head of ministerial delegations are the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sir Keith Holyoake, the Defence Minister and former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. John Gorton, and the Defence Minister of Singapore, Dr. Goh Keng Swee.
SYNOPSIS: London's Marlborough House -- the site of many meetings about the British Commonwealth -- on Thursday saw a Royal Air Force guard of honour on duty for the start of a two-day defence conference. The countries taking part are those with forces in Southeast Asia, Australia, Britain Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand are all represented.
The new defence plan is designed to safeguard Malaysia and Singapore against outside attack. The conference is expected to approve the plan at Friday's final session. The new arrangement will come into force later this year, replacing the current Anglo-Malaysian pact which since 1957 has bound British forces to the region's defence.
The five delegations are each on the ministerial level. New Zealand's is headed by the Prime Minister, Sir Keith Holyoake.
Among those in Singapore's delegation is the Foreign Minister The new defence arrangements to which the five governments are providing military forces will no longer carry automatic commitments as was previously in force. Instead, the parties would merely be bound to consult together on action to be taken in the face of armed attack or threat against Malaysia and Singapore.
British Prime Minister Edward Heat told the conference that Britain's military presence would not be the predominant factor in the five-power defence arrangements. But he said, Britain's effort would match that of the other four partners. He also pointed out that Britain's resources were limited, and account had to be taken of other commitments.