Throughout its modern history, Malaysia has faced a variety of security issues impacting its threat perception. These were a mix of both external and internal issues, as well as what most security and defence literature would identify as both ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ security issues. In Malaysia and many of its neighbouring countries however, non-traditional security issues were the predominant concern and could be considered as its traditional security challenges.1

The changing regional environment – especially from the strategic, geopolitical, economic and security paradigms – have seen new calculations and perceptions for Malaysia as it seeks to best position itself in this new emerging order. However, the overarching theme for much of the security and defence issues, and its perceptions, largely remain the same for Malaysia – longstanding internal dynamics, concerns over contested sovereignty and a porous border and the challenge of resource allocation to deal with the said concerns.

This paper will be divided into two parts. First, this paper will identify 4 major security challenges, from the viewpoint of the author, currently faced by Malaysia and their implications to the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), the country’s security policies and defence sector. Second, and by way of conclusion, this paper will address future prospects of security and defence cooperation in Southeast Asia under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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