With reference to Dr. Kua Kia Soong's letter to The Star titled "Defence priorities in need of Mat Sabu's attention", published on Tuesday, 15 May 2018.
Thank God for the end of the GE! Life is getting back to normal and now we have a letter from SUARAM's adviser, Dr. Kua Kia Soong on tasks that the Minister of Defence would need to look at.
As usual, Dr. Kua falls into a myopic view that threat against Malaysia comes from a single spectrum, ie from rag-tag armed foreign militants. No, His Majesty's Armed Forces should not be tasked to only facing rag-tag guerrilla forces. It should be able to face enemies from a wide spectrum; be they conventional force, or non-conventional force.
What might be an arm races to Dr. Kua is not an arm race, but a genuine struggle by His Majesty's Armed Forces to build a viable and sufficiently strong armed forces as a deterrence to external threats, be it from another armed forces, or militant group.
Threats come to many forms, and may have not yet manifest itself at the time a procurement decision is being made. Hence, it is only right that the Government to provide our military with the relevant military assets to perform their duties, including assets to face threats that have yet to manifest itself.
Malaya learnt it the hard way during World War 2. Discounting the threat from Japanese forces, the British administration deemed that Malayan theatre do not require tanks as it was deemed unsuitable for tropical forest operations. The Japanese brought theirs, giving them superior advantage against Allied forces in Malaya.
And if we are not careful, we may be facing similar situation in the South China Sea, where we have overlapping claims with several of our neighbours. Already, China was noted to have patrolled the waters off Beting Serupai in Sarawak using vessels which are larger and better armed than our Navy. These had happened despite our country having strong diplomatic relationship with China and is part of China's One-Belt, One-Road plan.
Dr. Kua had always quoted that our Scorpene submarines were useless against Lahad Datu intruders. He is right. They were not used against Lahad Datu intruders because that is not the purpose of having the submiarine. Once again, Dr. Kua had mixed up strategic and tactical roles.
Our submarines serve a strategic role as a deterrence against foreign conventional navy intrusion. With their Italian-made Blackshark heavy torpedo, both our submarines have the most potent naval weapon in this region. Its effectiveness in ensuring destruction of enemy vessels had attracted interest from various navies to be armed by this beastly weapon.
Dr. Kua had insinuated that our air force is a waste and are considered just as "toys". Unfortunately, we need our air force. May be it would be good for the Government to declassify the numbers of air interdiction which our air force had to perform, in the same manner that former Defence Minister, DS Zahid Hamidi had once disclosed to the Parliament.
He had also implied that our air force had only managed to use our Air Force to attack the rag-tag intruders in Lahad Datu. This clearly shows his lack of knowledge. The air attack serves to send two messages. The first message was that we were projecting our message to our neighbours and other militant groups that we will not tolerate any attempts to destroy our nation. Second, we are telling our troops that we are opening the way for their attacks and we want to soften the enemy before the actual attack commence.
In wars, nothing is a fair fight. It is only fair if we can bring as many men as possible back from operations. How many men that the enemy can bring home is never our concern. That is between their men and their God.
Not everything in Dr. Kua's letter is incorrect though. The cost for the MRCA are to my personal view, are too expensive. I have wrote extensively on MRCA, so you can try to search my MRCA articles, and how my view had slowly evolved over time. Though I must admit, I find it very weird that he is recommending that we look at F35. Does he know that the programme is facing delays in producing sufficient number of operational jets?
Another good point from Dr. Kua is that our air force should relook at her own motley combination of assets. He is not the first person to mention it, nor will he be the last. Similar arguments were also brought up in my articles in the past.
He had also highlighted that we are going to procure new MRSS or Multi-Role Support Ships. These are not just warships. But these are also ships purposed for HADR, or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Recovery. They will play a key role in sending critical goods to disaster zones, providing much needed goods and medical assistance.
I agree very much with Dr. Kua's insistence that we remain as a peaceful country and that there is no justification for war. But to obtain peace, one must be prepared to go to war.
And I do hope that Dr. Kua could show a bit more respect to his erstwhile ISA detention prisoner. It is very patronising of him to call the Defence Minister as his cook at Kamunting Detention Camp. His past reputation commenting on military matters showed his lack of depth and understanding ought to remind him that, at least the Minister of Defence has and will have a dedicated team of advisers guiding him the ins and outs of military affairs.