A Private Piggybank?

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Defence regular commenter, FareedS, in the post “Happy New Year 2013…” had this to say “The bottom line, as I see it, is that defence expenditures must rise (as measured as a percentage of GDP) from their current level of roughly 2% to at least 3% in order to fund a fighting force capable of meeting Malaysia’s defence requirements. Of course, it will be up to the politicians to make the case for that level of increase in spending; And it is highly unlikely that they will do so. It will probably take a major incident and crushing loss before anyone will advocate a strong defence.

I believe that he was responding to the ever increasing budget of our neighbours. In response FNH stated “Even then, Vietnam’s political leadership knew the burden of military cost, and decided for political engagement, although deeper issues remain, they are less of an existentialist threat than economic implosion. Malaysia’s foreign policy for national interest is also convinced of this point, politics, is a better bullet to bite, than a bullet to get hit.

Even though I agreed with FNH, I share also FareedS concerns about our anemic defence budget, even though I admit that we are not in the “Mongols in the street scenario”. That said as capabilities take time to master it is important to note the less money we spend today on training and equipping our soldiers meant that in the future we may be driving on fumes!

I am all for an increase in the defence budget – not least for the chance to write about our next procurement plans – but the reality is that most Malaysians feel that the defence and national security sector is a private piggybank to a select few. It is not really about defending or protecting Malaysia, as I liked to say it is really for the next Ferrari, a property in London or even the next MP seat!

Why I am saying this? How else could you explain headlines like this : ”

LTAT chairman says Boustead purchases strategic
PETALING JAYA: Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor has deemed Boustead Holdings Bhd’s acquisition of an 80% stake in Astacanggih Sdn Bhd and the purchase of 200 acres located in Bukit Raya as the company’s strategic move based purely on commercial reasons. For the full story go here.

It must be noted that Boustead had undertaken similar strategic moves before. Remember PSC-Naval Dockyard or Perimekar?.

So you see its not simply about raising the defence budget but its also making sure every sen is accounted for. We all realise that the Armed Forces is underfunded for its operational duties but the fact of the matter is simply raising the budget will not do anything. Yes we will have some more planes and ships to play around with but to what end?

– Malaysian Defence

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