2 JULY 2015 @ 12:00 PM
I READ with interest your expose on the security concern of the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Butterworth Air Force Base (AFB) (“Big, Fat, Juicy Targets” — NST, June 29). I would like to applaud the journalist for her good work in highlighting this issue.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that Malaysia has been very lackadaisical of her defence.
After the communist insurgency in 1990 with the surrender of Paraku (Pasukan Rakyat Kalimantan Utara, the armed wing of the North Kalimantan Communist Party) in Sarawak, development of our nation’s defence had been lackadaisical.
This lackadaisical attitude is what has led to the unfettered encroachment into our RMAF AFB for years. In fact, this is not only happening at the Butterworth AFB, but nationwide. The buffer zones of several military bases nationwide have been encroached by squatters.
But these are just the tip of the iceberg.
With approximately only three to four per cent of our gross domestic product allocated to the sector annually, our defence forces are now lagging behind neighbouring nations.
Most equipment is either outdated or worn out from heavy usage. At best, our armed forces can only muster a token force due to the above factors.
Of the three to four per cent, a large portion goes into emoluments and pay for our soldiers. This portion of the expenses will grow every year. Unfortunately, the budget remains stagnant.
The result is, we are unable to procure equipment that our forces need to defend our sovereignty and to provide security to our people. The best examples would be the Lahad Datu and MV Orkim Harmony incidents.
In the Lahad Datu incident, lack of armoured vehicles in Sabah forced an ACV300 Adnan Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle to be detached from the 4th Brigade in Pahang to Sabah. The lack of large support vessels with ro-ro (roll on/roll off) capabilities forced the Armed Forces to rent civilian vessels for the purpose, as the navy’s landing ship, KD Inderapura, had to be scuttled due to fire in 2009. It has yet to be replaced.
In the MV Orkim Harmony incident, it was the Royal Australian Air Force’s P3C Orion that helped us to detect the missing ship.
While I have confidence in the commitment and capability of our armed forces, we have not given them similar commitment that they, sacrificing their youth, sweat and blood, have shown to us.
Liew Shan Lee, Kuala Lumpur
As published in NST today at 2nd July 2015