Five Power Defence Arrangements

The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) are a series of defence relationships established by a series of multi-lateral agreements between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore (all Commonwealth members) signed in 1971, whereby the five powers are to consult each other "immediately" in the event or threat of an armed attack on any of these five countries for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in response. There is no specific commitment to intervene militarily. The Five Powers Defence Arrangements do not refer to exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and the enforcement of a state's EEZ rights is a matter for that state; a state may request the assistance of other states in so doing.[1]


The FPDA was set up following the termination of the United Kingdom's defence guarantees of Malaysia and Singapore under the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement, as a result of the UK's decision in 1967 to withdraw its armed forces east of Suez. Under the Five Powers Defence Arrangements, the five 'powers' (Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK) are to consult each other "immediately" in the event or threat of an armed attack on any of the five countries for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in response. There is no specific commitment to intervene militarily."[2] The FPDA provides defence co-operation between the countries, establishing an Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) for Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore based at RMAF Butterworth under the command of an Australian Air Vice-Marshal (2-star). RMAF Butterworth, was under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force until 1988, and is now run by the Royal Malaysian Air Force but hosts rotating detachments of aircraft and personnel from all five countries.

In 1981, the five powers organised the first annual land and naval exercises. Since 1997, the naval and air exercises have been combined. In 2001, HQ IADS was redesignated Headquarters Integrated "Area" Defence System. It now has personnel from all three branches of the armed services, and co-ordinates the annual five-power naval and air exercises, while moving towards the fuller integration of land elements. An annual FPDA Defence Chiefs' Conference (FDCC) is hosted by either Malaysia or Singapore, and is the highest military professional forum of the FPDA and serves as an important platform for dialogue and exchange of views among the Defence Chiefs.[3] There is also a Five Powers Defence Arrangements Ministerial Meeting (FDMM).[4]

John Moore, then Minister of Defence of Australia said, "As an established multilateral security framework, the FPDA has a unique role in Asia. It is of strategic benefit to all member nations and, in Australia's view, to the wider Asia-Pacific region."[5] Malaysia's CDF, former General (GEN) Tan Sri Dato' Sri Zulkifeli Bin Mohd Zin concurred: "We can help each other... and cooperate with one another."[6]

In the latest New Zealand defence White Paper released in June 2016, it was outlined that given New Zealand was a longstanding member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, it would, "meet its commitments should Malaysia or Singapore be subject to a military attack."[7]

40th Anniversary

On 1 November 2011, Singapore hosted FPDA's 40th anniversary celebrations, with the defence ministers, aircraft and servicemen from all five signatory countries converging on Changi Air Base (East) to participate in the event. Later, a gala dinner was hosted by Singapore's defence minister—Dr Ng Eng Hen at Singapore's Istana whereupon they called on the Prime Minister of Singapore—Mr Lee Hsien Loong to discuss a multitude of issues. Codenamed Exercise Bersama Lima, the three days joint exercise is tested the readiness and co-operation between all participating countries and concluded on 4 November 2011.[8]

Personnel and facilities

The UK has the following personnel and facilities based in Malaysia and Singapore in support of the FPDA: a small Naval facility at Sembawang in Singapore operated by Joint Forces Command and staff in the Integrated Area Defence System Headquarters (HQ IADS) at RMAF Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia. Staff at Sembawang total three Ministry of Defence civil servants, one Chief Petty Officer and one Petty officer (RN). The present UK Defence Adviser to Singapore as of 2015 is a Royal Navy Commander.[9] In HQ IADS, it is one Wing Commander, one Squadron Leader, one Lieutenant Commander, one Major and one Flight Sergeant.[10]


  1. "Malaysia: Military Alliances:Written question - 2257". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. "Military Alliances: 4 Nov 2013: Hansard Written Answers". TheyWorkForYou. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. "News - Singapore Hosts 15th FPDA Defence Chiefs' Conference (07 Nov 13)" (Press release). MINDEF. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  4. "Military Alliances: 5 Nov 2013: HansardHansard Written Answers". TheyWorkForYou. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  5. "Media Release: Five Power Defence Meeting" (Press release). Defence Ministers & Parliamentary Secretary(Australia). 4 July 2000. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  6. "Cyberpioneer - Five Power Defence Arrangements remain relevant (07 Nov 13)". 7 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  7. "Defence White Paper 2016". The New Zealand Ministry of Defence Manatū Kaupapa Waonga. June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  8. "Singapore Hosts FPDA 40th Anniversary Celebrations" (Press release). Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). 1 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  9. "Mission Locator". Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  10. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 17 Jun 2013 (pt 0002)". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
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