|Credit - Najib Razak's Facebook|
Early today, I received excerpt of speech by our Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein in the Parliament with regards of the 11th Malaysia Plan. The content of the speech is to me very disturbing. I will let you be the judge of it.
KUALA LUMPUR: Menteri Pertahanan Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein hari ini berkata perbelanjaan untuk Rancangan Malaysia ke-11 (RMK-11) perlulah bersandarkan kepada kemampuan dan keperluan yang sedia ada.
Menurutnya, tiada guna pihak kerajaan membincangkan sesuatu perkara, sekiranya tidak mampu membiayainya kerana tindakan itu hanya akan menimbulkan masalah.
“Apa jua yang kita miliki mesti tepat dan berhubung kait dengan ancaman yang terpaksa kita hadapi.
“Dan ancaman hari ini mungkin berbeza daripada yang kita hadapi dahulu… kemunculan IS dan sebagainya,” kata Hishammuddin ketika ditemui pemberita di lobi Parlimen, pada Rabu.
Bagaimanapun, katanya tidak ada guna jika negara memiliki aset-aset yang canggih sedangkan ancaman yang diterima hanyalah ancaman yang asas.
Beliau mengulas tentang peruntukan RMK11 bagi sektor pertahanan, di mana beliau menekankan tiga prinsip yang perlu disandarkan iaitu kemampuan, tahap ancaman dan pihak-pihak berkepentingan.
“Masa untuk kita membeli aset dengan sewenang-wenangnya tanpa memikir kepada tiga perkara asas tadi telah pun berlalu di bawah kepimpinan saya dalam kementerian ini,” kata Hishammuddin lagi.
Selain itu, beliau juga berharap agar kesemua sasaran akan disesuaikan bersandarkan kepada apa yang diumumkan oleh Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Najib, yang juga Menteri Kewangan, akan membentangkan RMK11 esok di Parlimen jam 11.30 pagi.
Pembentangan pada persidangan Dewan Rakyat itu merupakan hala tuju negara untuk lima tahun akan datang.
This statement is very disconcerting.
As I have written before and will continue to write, regardless of opposition to what I have written, regardless of the ridicules I may be getting, regardless of accusations that I am a war-monger, any further cuts in budgets to Malaysian Armed Forces will cost us dearly in the future.
State of our Military
Our military is an aging military, with bulk of our main combat assets aging between 20 years to 40 years old. Most of these assets were bought during Tun Mahathir's era as the Prime Minister. An example would be the Sikorsky S61A4, better known as Nuri. Most, if not all the crews operating the Nuri helicopters today are just half the age of these once magnificent helicopters.
Many of these assets were also purchased in very small quantity, which contributes heavily to their wear-and-tear status. Our MiG29N Fulcrum numbered 18 units when the plane entered our inventory. After losing 2 to separate crash incidents, this left us with 16 to cover almost half of our country. I don't even want to comment how many are still flying.
Slapped with SLEP
Our navy had to undergo a series SLEP, or Service Life Extension Programme, just so our ageing Navy surface combatant ships can continue be used for another 10 years. Mind you that naval vessels are recommended to be replaced by the age of 30. And our ships' average age is 20.
On top of that, guided missiles and torpedoes on our ships have largely reached end of their service life. In other words, they are expiring.
Why is it a problem? We're Not Going to War
Cut the crap. We are not facing a war today. But can you guarantee tomorrow?
Lahad Datu Incursion - The Chinese Factor
Never say we never see it coming. A rag tag guerrilla fighters had forced the largest mobilization of combat units on home soil in 24 years. Most of our assets were mobilize to counter the threat from southern Philippines.
While our forces were concentrated in Sabah, 4 PLA - Navy ships entered our territorial waters at Beting Serupai, also known as James Shoal. This rocky underwater outcrop is located only a mere 80 nautical mile from Bintulu town, Sarawak. The Chinese calls this rocky underwater outcrop as Zhenmu Reef, and they are claiming this as theirs. Just a mere 80 nautical miles from Bintulu town, our Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) town.
During the last 2 years, the Chinese are getting more and more aggressive in the South China Sea, which they claim as theirs in their entirety just because it is named as South China Sea. While there are some in Malaysia that says China is a friend to Malaysia, do not underestimate their willingness to use force to enlarge their border. Vietnam learnt that the hard way in the Battle of Paracel Island.
With the current disposition of our navy, it will be very challenging for us to defend this rocky outcrop. You might say why defend this rocky outcrop? Because it is part of Sarawak, part of Malaysia, part of my home. Would you allow me to stay in your living room, coming in and out without your permission, without even paying rent to you?
At the current rate of our naval disposition, we are looking at a very grim picture. With Chinese naval vessels are largely missile-equipped, sending our mostly naval gun-equipped ships against the Chinese Navy to defend our territorial waters is akin to sending sheep to the slaughterhouse. Might as well to prepare the body bags firsts.
From the North They Came
Just this week, Begnino Aquino III, the President of the Republic of Philippines, had reiterated that he will never drop the Philippines' claim over Sabah. The Philippines contended that Sabah belonged to them as it was previously part of the Sultanate of Sulu, which is now part of the Philippines.
Some took to this claim as being propaganda to scare Sabahans. The fact is he Philippines had this claim since 1963. And this was one of the reasons why the Philippines protested against formation of Malaysia together with Indonesia. A protest that saw the formation of Malaysia being postponed from 31st August 1963 to 16th September 1963, to allow the completion of referendum on the formation of Malaysia.
In fact, the Philippines had hosted to AM Azahari, the leader of Partai Rakyat Brunei, who had launched the Brunei Revolution, who was in turn, loyal to Indonesia.
When the Confrontation or Konfrontasi failed, the Philippines did not gave up. They launched Oplan Merdeka, or Operation Merdeka. Oplan Merdeka called for insertion of specially trained Filipino troops into Sabah and then to use these people to foment dissent which will end up with the so-called 'loyal' sons and daughters of Sabah to call for military assistance from the Philippines to stop the subjugation of Sabahan from the hands of Malayan. The plan had went well, till Jabidah Massacre happened. The young Filipino Muslim soldiers that were supposed to lead the attack were massacred, This precipitated the Mindanao conflict that has yet to end till today.
From the South, Comes The Garuda
Serumpun, they claimed. Which is true. But even serumpun, Indonesia launched a Konfrontasi against Malaysia in 1963. Only to end with the fall of Soekarno.
Till today, they have yet to formally drop their claim over Sarawak and part of Sabah.
And for those who had the opportunity to watch former president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's farewell parade held by TNI, you would be very disturbed to see the photo of SBY being superimposed on top of a map of Indonesia, with Sabah and Sarawak as part of the Indonesia.
Today, Indonesia's military has the second strongest teeth in Southeast Asia, second only to Singapore.
Preoccupation with Politics
Malaysia in the 1990's was a regional power. We were second only to Singapore. While Singapore has the equipment and manpower, we had the staying power.
But politics took over. We have an ineffective opposition who choose to oppose for the sake of opposing, and an ineffective government, who were concerned about military procurement becoming a political issue. And thus begin the journey that had slowly weakened our military.
Remove Wasteful Contracts, Send Amin to Jail
In my past articles, I had mentioned before the name of Amin Shah. A name so reviled in Malaysian military circle, for he single-handed destroyed Royal Malaysian Navy's plan to be the most powerful navy in Southeast Asia. Had he not squandered the billions, we would have sufficient surface naval vessels to protect our waters. Last was heard of him, he is still alive, and not yet prosecuted.
|Credit to the photo owner|
Next in line would be removal of wasteful contracts. As I had said earlier, the Navy was slapped with SLEP. The fact is nearly the whole military is being slapped with SLEP. The Army Air Corp requested for attack helicopters, which could be put to good use in Sabah, they were given S61A4 Nuri, painted in digital camouflague. They are now nicknamed Lego Nuri.
The Laksamana class, once RMN most potent vessels. Now some of them had lost their teeth. The missiles removed. Yet to be confirmed to be replaced.
Duty of Care
It is our duty of care to ensure the men and women that are willing to sacrifice their lives for us to get the best available equipment that our budget can buy. Not to give them some ageing equipment, hoping they can make best out of it. And when they fail (God forbid), we deride them for being useless.
What I had written today, will make some people be unhappy. So be it. Better to get someone unhappy than keeping peace, till the lives of our men and women are being put in danger.
Just yesterday, I walked passed a military hearse, carrying the coffin of one of our servicemen. I stopped by the roadside to give my respect. And it brought me back to the memory of the night that I attended Supt Ibrahim Lebar's funeral. A feeling that I wish I will never need to endure in the future.
And for those who keep on denying the need to upgrade our military assets, then you should not be bothered to buy insurance for yourself. As military assets are insurance to our nation's sovereignty as is insurance is to us.
NOTE: Crossing fingers for tomorrow.