4th December 2018
MALAYSIAN TROOPS INVOLVEMENT WITH THE SAUDI COALITION FORCE WAS ILLEGAL
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong has made a statement in Parliament on 3 December that the previous government had deployed troops of the Malaysian Armed Forces to participate in a military conflict between the Saudi coalition forces against Yemen, in what is termed as Ops Yemen 2.
The troops were first deployed in 2015, and have since been recalled after the PH government informed the Saudi government that Malaysian troops were to be relieved of their involvement in the war with Yemen.
Patriot views the revelation by the Deputy Defence Minister as shocking because the Malaysian troops deployment was not sanctioned by the Cabinet or by Parliament. The questions that need to be answered by the previous government and in particular the Defence Minister then are as follows:
1. Who were the parties that had authorized the deployment of the troops to Saudi Arabia?
2. Under whose command were the troops placed?
3. Who paid for the salaries and allowances if any, of the troops including the expenses for all other logistical support?
4. For how long were the troops deployed and what was the composition of the force?
5. What was the nature of tasks given to our troops?
6. If the deployment of troops was a decision by the Defence Minister, or by other politicians, then the order to deploy troop was illegal.
7. Was there prior consultation by the Defence Minister then with the Armed Forces Chief to determine the legality of the troop’s deployment to Saudi Arabia, and to be part of the Saudi coalition force against Yemen?
8. Was there pressure placed upon the Armed Forces Chief by the Defence Minister, or from other government officials to comply with the instructions to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia?
9. Why wasn’t the deployment of Armed Forces troops discussed and sanctioned by the Cabinet?
10. Was there any formal agreement concluded between the Saudi and Malaysian government relating to the participation of Malaysian troops in the conflict against Yemen?
11. Was the Yang DiPertuan Agong being the Commander-in-Chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces consulted?
There is obviously a serious flaw in the decision making of the government, and in particular the Defence Ministry to deploy troops overseas for operational tasks without sanction by the Cabinet or Parliament. Who should be held accountable should there be lives lost while in operational duties abroad?
The Defence Minister then must understand that he did not have any command function over troops; hence detailing troops for whatever reason is deemed contentious and illegal. The command to deploy can only come from the military commander.
Patriot would like to caution politicians including the Defence Minister of the new government to be more mindful in the language they use when detailing troops for deployment. Ministers, as we know, are only responsible for policy matters relating to their ministries.
BG Dato Mohamad Arshad Raji (Retired)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan