6th December 2018
HISHAMUDDIN NEEDS TO GIVE A BETTER EXPLANATION
Former Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, on 5 December, in response to the question raised by Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong concerning the deployment of Armed Forces troops to Saudi Arabia had said, “ask NSC (National Security Council), ask them what we actually did”. He went further to say that, “the information must be declassified as it is of national importance”. The response by Hishamuddin raised more questions than answers.
Patriot is of the view that the response by Hishamuddin is even more confusing. Is he implying that the NSC is the authority to sanction the deployment of Armed Forces troops overseas? Is he saying that the Cabinet or Parliament has no role in sanctioning troops deployment overseas? Is he saying that the Armed Forces Chief’s Committee (Jawatankuasa Panglima Panglima) need not be consulted and can be bypassed?
We seek Hishamuddin to explain where it is stipulated in the NSC Act that the NSC is empowered to deploy forces overseas and be part of a force engaged in a war with another country? We believe Hishamuddin is also confused by not mentioning that the Armed Forces Chief’s Committee has a definite role to advise the government relating to troop deployment overseas.
Hishamuddin must also explain what he meant by saying the information (relating to the deployment) must be declassified as it is of national importance. Is deploying troops to fight alongside another country that is at war deemed of national importance? Was there some form of a defence arrangement or an agreement between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia wherein Malaysia was obligated to assist Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen?
We were told that the troops in Saudi were to be ready to extricate Malaysians in Yemen back to Malaysia. If true, why were the troops there for more than three years? The mission for such operation could be accomplished in less than a month.
Patriot maintains that the troops deployment to assist Saudi Arabia in Yemen was illegal because there was no sanction from the Cabinet and Parliament. Furthermore, the overthrown Yemeni government led by Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi had already overstayed its electoral term, resigned once, and fled the country. Hadi’s legitimacy as head of government is in question. Hence, the Saudi-led attack in response to Hadi’s call for assistance against Yemeni rebel forces might be illegal too.
Under contemporary international law, all military actions against another sovereign state are unlawful. A military action could only be justified in three ways:
1. An act of self-defence.
2. Collective self-defence to aid an attacked ally, following a treaty of mutual defence recognised by the UN.
3. An international organisation with peacekeeping functions sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
The Saudi-led coalition attack on Yemen does not satisfy the above justifications. The war in Yemen has been repeatedly accused by human rights groups of unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets, amounting to war crimes. It is also seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which Malaysia has no business in.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan