2023 Defence Budget Could Be Lower

TAI Anka UAV on finals. TAI

SHAH ALAM: Defence Minister DSU Mohamad Hasan today said that there was a possibility that the 2023 defence budget could be lower than the one proposed by the previous government. He said that a lower funding was a possibility as the new budget to be tabled in Parliament this February 24, was based on estimates that the cost of oil was US$80 dollars per barrel. The Ismail Sabri government proposed budget was based on US$100 dollars per barrel.

“The estimate shows that the government will have a lower revenue. However, we will have to wait for the tabling of the budget to see the actual allocation. Maybe we will get the allocations we had asked for recently or not,” he told a press conference after visiting the project of a housing complex meant for members of the Armed Forces at Sungei Besi.

From the proposed 2023 budget report:

The government has allocated some RM35.6 billion to the national security sector – national security and defence – from the 2023 budget which amounted to RM372 billion.

The defence budget is RM17.4 billion; 0.47 per cent of the total budget or 0.98 per cent of the 2021 Malaysian GDP, which is much lower than the 1.5 per cent sought by the Armed Forces shortly before the presentation of the budget.

The operational expenditure for 2023 is RM11.4 billion (RM11.1 billion for 2022) and the development expenditure is RM5.964 billion, an increase of some RM900 million from the 2022 figure of RM5.039 billion. This mean there is an increase of around RM1.3 billion for defence in the 2023 budget. However, in US dollar terms, it is a decrease of around US$200 million.

As for the Home Ministry, it is getting RM18.3 billion with RM13.8 billion (RM13.5 billion in 2022) in OE while the DE has been pegged at RM4.5 billion (RM3.6 billion). MMEA’s DE expenditure for 2023 is RM719 million in 2023 compared to the measly RM103 million it got last year.

He also said the Armed Forces have enough assets in the South China Sea to prevent intrusions by China in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Sarawak and Sabah. He was asked to comment on news reports that China has sent its biggest coast guard ship into the Malaysian and Indonesian EEZ in the SCS.

— Malaysian Defence

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15 Comments

  1. He is right : we do have enough assets in the South China Sea to prevent intrusions by China in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Sarawak and Sabah but only at the current tempo. If they increase the scale/frequency of their intrusions then we will struggle due to the limited numbers we have and no in case someone mentions it; an extra few MMEA OPVs still won’t cut it. Even if the MMEA has 35 OPVs the RMN would [like any other navy which has non peacetime duties]] still play a role monitoring our waters and EEZ in parallel with the MMEA which of course remains the lead agency [in case someone issues a reminder].

    As it stands we are small fish for China; they will continue their intrusions for the political value but their focus will lie elsewhere.

  2. The continued intrusions by China is a legal point in international law. We must resist each n every attempt by China, not just shadow but actually chase them out.
    It is because China will use these attempts to claim that they have regularly patrolled their own waters n Malaysia did not do anything to protect our sovereignty. Remember the issue over Andaman Sea n Pulau Batu Puteh

  3. Lee – “not just shadow but actually chase them out”

    Sorry but nonsense. How do we “chase them out” short of firing? The Japanese and others are unable to in their EEZs; yet we are supposed to do so? We start acting aggressively and they will respond in ways we won’t be able to counter. What happens if they respond by sending in naval ships and “chase us out”?

    The aim is to keep a lid on things; not to escalate things.

    Lee – “Malaysia did not do anything to protect our sovereignty”

    We are already a shadowing each incursion and lodging protests; should we lay minefields too or issue standing orders for ships to fire?

  4. Exactly, China justified the use of the 9-dash line based on historical precedent. The 9-dash line and permanent bases in SCS is their way to lock-in their claims in 20+ years time. Minister of Defence is saying what he says because he is building a narrative for Budget 2023 and most likely next 5 years. The narrative is, the budget increase won’t happen (i.e. no 1% of GDP). If we’re lucky we get the same amount (which is less in USD terms due to MYR depreciation). Very likely we get less (given the govt. fiscal situation and views on defence). So don’t expect the wishlist to be filled. Once the media picks up the narrative, they will parrot the message and perpetuate the idea of “no need to spend so much on defence”. If the goal is to ensure funding is forthcoming, one should not parrot the Min Def’s position. Right now, RMN may have assets, since its CCG gun ships and PLAAF transport planes. What if its PLAN navy ships and PLAAF combat jets? The escalation has been happening and will continue to happen. The difference is, one side is planning for the escalation and the other hopes it won’t escalate.

  5. Kel – “The 9-dash line and permanent bases in SCS is their way to lock-in their claims in 20+ years time”

    The Nine Dash Line was first introduced by the Nationalists and is a way for the current leadership to cement and justify the claims – full stop/period; not necessarily for
    “in 20+ years time”

    Kel – “inister of Defence is saying what he says because he is building a narrative for Budget 2023”

    He is “saying what he says because he is” he’s being a politician and does not want to rock the boat. He also cushioning the impact of a reduced budget. You expect him to say the truth : we have enough assets until or unless the Chinese raise the tempo; then we are buggered.

    Kel – “The escalation has been happening and will continue to happen. The difference”

    Sounds overly dramatic. Ships are staying longer and entering are regularly but isn’t “escalation” per see. Also, their ships have been entering since the previous decades; way before most here were even aware.

    Kel – “What if its PLAN navy ships and PLAAF combat jets?”

    WhAt do they gain? Unless another side raises things why would they send the military? Continuing to rely on military entities is politically expedient for them. Also, their military is focused on the likes of America, Austakia, Japan and South Korea. Let’s not flatter ourselves.

    Kel – “The difference is, one side is planning for the escalation and the other hopes it wont”

    Incorrect. The Chinese don’t want to escalate things because they are more focused on other areas. We are small fish to them and they will continue their incursions because politically they have to but doesn’t mean they are intending on escalating. Like us they gain nothing from doing anything that rattles the status quo.

    From our end; just like with Vietnam and others we have to strike a fine balance between the intrusions and other things. Our economy is hugely tied to China’s; that’s a key pertinent fact.

    Laying our long posts in paragraphs makes it somewhat more bearable to digest.

  6. Welp! Another of PakatanBN Govt shoe polishing publicity stunt political gimmick of “saving money”. Meanwhile we have lost half a billion in funds outflow by investors, ironically mostly going to neighbouring Asean countries. Already our defence budget was pared to the bone and now they want to break it. Oh well these are the same politicians that rationalised why should we buy new weapons if we’re not at war with anyone. This could also be indicative of strangling the LCS until it dies a slow natural death in which case nobody will care by then and nobody can blame the PakatanBN Govt.

    “Pulau Batu Puteh”
    Was lost thru diplomacy and not thru any conflict, invasion, or strongarmed out of it. We lost it because the then Govt rescinded(?) sovereignty over it. We could say that we have eyes over it from shore everyday and still it wouldn’t change anything.

  7. Our Mister Joe is quite right there. The YB Rembau is coaching his language carefully. He knows local defence observers are already highly critical of the Ministry of Defence. And the Cabinet nincompoops. But he also knows he’s better-off aligning himself and his party to PM10 and his political views. Their won’t be much of an upward curve in our defence spending. He knows his own Cabinet colleagues don’t give a rat’s ass about increasing defence procurement unless we can ‘borong them at a discount’ given the PH contempt for defence buys. I seem to recall the suggestion made by a business tycoon (during the 1st term of PH rule) to put the ‘idle’ members of the Armed Forces to good use in increasing food production et cetera. So, the logic is No War So No Need For New Weapons!
    And if they sell the idea to the Rakyat, the Rakyat that voted for them will just, ‘Yeah, that’s sounds reasonable. 3 cheers for good governance!’
    Sorry, am beginning to think perhaps we should just retire our entire army and Armed Forced and simply have just the Police as our Primary security force! Eire can do it minus an army. So can our country. Or can’t we?

  8. Taib,

    The Irish Republic has an army [has served in UNFIL for decades] and it lives in a more benign environment.

    The Defence Minister is doing what he does : indulging in politics. It’s not only his fellow minister’s who “don’t give a rat’s ass about increasing defence” ..

  9. All governments the same including the PN and BN governments. Budget 2023 didnt increase the allocation in USD terms. They went ahead with a RM800m+ direct award on the SPH despite the Army requesting open tender. They delayed the LCA order but was ok with RM800m direct award for a SPH? BN government messed up the Navy’s LCS such that the Navy will have zero new surface combatant for 10 years. The previous BN bought 3 different jets from 3 different countries from 3 different manufacturers and then refuse to commit to the MRCA and Nuri replacement programs. Not to mention basically killing the Navy’s transformation by messing up the NGPV program (from 27 big ships to just 6). Right now its a choice of either making changes to the procurment process, or go back to the old ways and hope for the best. The former will be painful and gut wrenching for a few years maybe a few RMK but should put the whole process on better footing. The latter means overspending, haphazard buying, risk of failed projects but new things will be bought. Im not defending the PH government, but the BN government was in power far longer and underinvested in defence that created the asset issues today. PH was only in power 2.5 years including then current one.

  10. Kel – “Rght now its a choice of either making changes to the procurment process, or go back to the old ways and hope for the best”

    Not easy as merely “making changes to the procurment process” …

    It goes much deeper than that. It’s how we view defence; the attitude/mindset; how we allocate spending; procurement being part of the patronage system; perceptions of the taxpayer [molded by history and other things], the role the local industry plays;-etc. The way we go about procurement is tied to the overall system and can’t be viewed in isolation – no quixk/easy fixes.

    The rot in the defence policy is a reflection of the country as a whole and requires a deep fundamental revamp which won’t happen for reasons which have been done to death here.

    Whether it’s the “unity government” or Dick Turpin and his highwaymen in power; nothing will change. The armed services and the taxayers will continue to be buggered and we’ll have a MAF we can’t afford to adequately sustain and which has capabilities which don’t reflect what we’ve invested in it.

    Laying out long posts in paragraphs makes it somewhat more bearable to digest.

  11. If half the country is only worried about putting food on the table, providing good education for their children, and saving for retirement, national defence is the last thing on their mind. Add on to it is the old narrative being parroted by so many people, that all is well. We maybe short of everything, but all is good. We have enough assets. We have everything under control. No threat whatsoever. We are still building up our capabilities. We are still learning… Does it surprise anyone why the people generally think all is well and we don’t need to spend more money on national defence? This narrative has been used for decades and it has done no good to the long run health of the military (e.g. no MRCA, no Nuri replacement, no SGPV/LCS, no Mig-29 replacement, etc). Time to change the narrative. One doesn’t need to name the external threat. That name can be kept in a locked file. Creating a threat changes the narrative. Then highlighting the risks of ignoring the threat. Then identify the gaps. Then identify the fixes. Helps focus the people’s attention on something. No one expects the change or fix to happen in a year, or two or 5. It will take time but it needs to start.

  12. Laying out long posts in paragraphs makes it somewhat more bearable to digest.

    Kel – “ne doesn’t need to name the external threat. That name can be kept in a locked”

    Nonsense. We need a clear threat we can focus on based on a realistic long term strategic assessment. In the past the focus was internal security security and that’s where our ficus was directed.

    At present we are neither here nor there, focusing on various things with inadequate resources and not getting the best value because of the politically driven deeply flawed and self defeating defence policy.

    Kel- “Time to change the narrative”

    Time to end global warming; wars, corruption, wife beating; consuming harmful substances: etc.

    How do we “change” anything when there is neither political or public desire/interest and when the defence policy is a reflection of various other things in this country which ha e gone ratshit.

    Kel – “Does it surprise anyone why the people generally think all is well and we don’t need to spend more money on national defence?”

    If you look at historical, social, economics and factors, plus the fact that the MAF is not seen as a national institutions the way the RTA, SAF and TNI is; you’ll understand why defence occupies the place it does in the national pysche.

  13. kel – ” Helps focus the people’s attention on something.”

    They are ”focused” on education, good governance; healthcare; corruption; etc. Can’t blame them. Look at the Malvinas and other disasters which occurred when rulers decided to give the public something to focus on; rather than the shite at home.

    We have never faced an existential threat [the closest was the Confrontation which many are still hazy about and because of politics we didn’t speak a lot about it]; as a sovereign nation we’ve never fought any wars with neighbours [contrast this with Vietnam throughout its history way before the Americans arrived] and we don’t feel as paranoid and vulnerable as the Singaporeans; nor do we have a government like the PAP who drums in into the heads of ever compliant Singaporeans about the need for a strong SAF and neighbours who are only friendly because of a strong SAF [look at the PM’s Merdeka Day message and his reference to the Ukraine a few years ago]. Nor are we in a country where the role and presence of military is deeply ingrained in the national psyche and has actively played major roles in politics and the economy; i.e. Thailand and Indonesia.

    Hardly surprising why defence is viewed the way it is.

    kel – ”No one expects the change or fix to happen in a year, or two or 5. It will take time but it needs to start.”

    Appreciate the uplifting narrative; like a motivational talk; which when over the participants leave all motivated. You’re not the first to be up beat about things and you certainly won’t be the last but the shite is very deep rooted/deeply ingrained in the national fibre.

    Alas the reality is there are no easy fixes. Neither the politicians nor the public is really interested. We can spin it all we want but ultimately; as mentioned multiple times in the past; the way defence is handled is a overall reflection of the country as a whole. Look at the politics; the education system; race relations; etc.

  14. “All governments the same including the PN and BN governments.”
    Except PN/BN did proceed with some significant buys unlike PH Govt that bought basically nothing. Buying wrong is bad but buying nothing is worse.

  15. Nothing? correct me if im wrong but i believed that 3 units of navy’s AW139 HOM procurement was approved during Mat sabu’s tenure as Mindef.Following govt/mindef just receiving the orders

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