Going Over the Top

SHAH ALAM: Going over the top. As we wait for the Defence Minister designate to be sworn in and make his first sortie to Jalan Padang Tembak, it is time for us discuss what ails the defence and national security sector.

Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence

For the last 40 years or so the sector became part of the national economic development agenda, which started during the 22 years of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad first premiership. And the practice continued during the two administrations that succeeded him.

RMAF MiG-29N M43-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.

Placing the defence and national security sector as part of the country’s economic development is a common practice by many countries. For Malaysia, the national interest agenda was turned upside down when it was driven by parochial interests which led to unbridled shenanigans, to say the least. This mostly resulted in procurement of assets and development mostly due to political patronage with little regard for life cycle costs and long term viability.

A G-Wagon fitted with an AGL

Unfortunately this was not limited to the defence and national security sector alone. The problem is further exacerbated by insistence of local manufacturing, which further increase the initial cost of procurement as well as long term one. Most of these prestige projects are nothing more than reinventing the wheel while at the same time further straining the already limited budget.

AFV30 Gempita in desert camouflage. Social media

While some had benefited from these largesse, its always the Armed Forces that had to deal with the aftermath whenever something bad happens and it was not just the economy.

Maharaja Lela. Her name could be seen on the stern.

Remember that we spent billions to get six corvettes unsuitable for high intensity fighting and also too expensive for mundane patrols. This happened even as the coast guard is starved of proper funding to get the patrol boats it needs to secure our long maritime borders.

A CGI of the MMEA OPV

Remember that we have two submarines which are very expensive to operate and maintain while the surface fleet lacks the capability for proper anti submarine warfare.

RMAF A400M M54-04 on approach to Subang on March 14, 2017.

The air force got four new transporters although it don’t need them. It needs new fighters, MPA, airborne radars and training jets though.

A Pendekar MBT firing its main gun during firepower demo rehearsals in May, this year. Army picture

Its the same with the army, despite some highlights here and there, the infantry remained the king. As of recently it got some 100 8X8s from a 257 order though it’s sole tank unit is still stuck in first gear, literally and figuratively.

Firing GMPGs from the tripod mount.

What’s the solution then? I have none for the PM – he probably has the solution already figured out as he bide his time to oust his successors.

Two Lipan Bara MRAP armed with M134D mini-guns at the farewell parade for the Army chief on Dec. 9.2016. BTDM picture.

As for the Minister, I think it’s time for him to stop campaigning and deal with the problem together with the PM and of course the Armed Forces. I know it’s difficult to do that after 40 years in the trenches. Its time as they say to go Over the Top.

PASKAL operators trained for maritime demonstration with Super Lynx helicopter. RMN

Am I feeling nostalgic over the previous regime? None whatsoever. Just wary though I am grateful at least that the chance of me being blacklisted by the ministry has gone a long notch down already. And no, this is not an attempt to whitewash Najib and Pak Lah et al and lay all the blame on Dr Mahathir. They deserved everything that are lined up for them and more.

–Malaysian Defence

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