28th May 2018
PATRIOT APPLAUDS MINISTER OF DEFENCE YB MOHAMED SABU’S DECISIVE ACTION
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) applauds Minister of Defence YB Mohamed Sabu’s decisiveness in setting up ‘a high level committee to investigate the various alleged scandals which have come to haunt the Armed Forces’ (The Sun Daily, 27 May 2018). The minister has stated that the committee will probe the alleged wrongdoings to determine if there are grounds for prosecution or disciplinary action.
From the case of the infamous Scorpene submarines, equipment malfunctions, privatisation of military land, procurements at inflated prices, shortage of medicines in military hospitals, the various reported improprieties, to the dissipating of military values and traditions where officers sort to kissing hand instead of saluting; it is high time the rot has to stop.
It is true that a lot of our military assets need upgrading. Each one of the service chief, army, navy and air force would want the best and maximum for each own establishment. With our current fiscal squeeze, we need to prioritise in procuring hardware. Military and strategic defence has to go hand in hand with our foreign policy. The current threat lies most in piracy, illegal encroachment into our territorial water, and the IS threat. As such, our naval hardware to meet the need of maritime patrolling, counter piracy and kidnap for ransom, and equipment for cyber warfare, demand priority.
As much as the need for naval crafts is a priority, the impending committee needs to look into the contract regarding the purchase of the four Littoral Mission Ships (LMS). In late 2016 Malaysia inked the agreement with China to purchased four LMS for an unknown price tag, but believed to be a total of RM 250 million, as announced by the then Minister of Defence, Hishammuddin (The Diplomat, 4 Feb 2017). However, it was reported in The Star on 21 Mar 2017 that Boustead Holdings Bhd was awarded a RM 1.17 billion contract from the Ministry of Defence to supply the four LMS through a direct negotiation between the governments of China and Malaysia. The LMS are basically lightweight large patrol crafts fitted with guns. The price range can easily be checked and compared with different suppliers. For those who know, a price tag of RM 1.17 billion is way too high.
Patriot commends our new government in placing the East Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) directly under the Ministry of Defence. Like many other departments in the PMO, ESSCOM is another typical example of overlapping role with already emplaced military established and organization in Sabah. Hence, its existence is sheer wastage of monetary and human resources.
The 2013 Lahad Datu incident left behind many lessons to learn. To counter such incident like foreign armed incursion, the security forces stationed in Sabah need to be supported with the required supporting arms, and not wait for deployment from West Malaysia after an incident has happened. Rather than procuring new assets, Patriot suggests redeployment of some of the supporting arms from West Malaysia to be permanently stationed in Sabah.
With regards to the honourable minister’s intent of setting up the high level committee, it is necessary that those appointed need security clearance as these are security and defence matters and are bound to be classified. Patriots, with members who had served in the tri-services at different levels and responsibilities, and vetted for security clearance, are ready to assist in whatever ways necessary. We are also prepared to set up committees to assist in exploring how best to help in welfare matters for veterans, and any other matters relating to the Ministry of Defence.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan