Kuala Lumpur: YB Datuk, congratulations on your appointment as the Defence Minister, one of the most senior positions in the government. While I understand that some and even you might feel your appointment to the post during this hard times as National Service, I feel that you must understand you have a historic opportunity to reshape the future of the armed forces and even perhaps, the nation itself.
It will be a very good idea if you would discard much of what you had experienced during your time as political secretary to Najib during the early 90s. Most of it are politically and financially irrelevant today and it was in fact, partly the genesis of the current crisis paralysing the armed forces.
The armed forces, in my humble opinion, is currently standing on the brink of an abyss which it may not recover, no thanks to years of ineptitude, political expediency and at times sheer bad luck. Only hard work, diligence and a small measure of luck may helped raise its fortunes.
Forgive me for bringing bad tidings but the current economic crisis gripping the nation and indeed the whole world, is not the cause for the downward spiral of the armed forces, it is undoubtedly the best indicator of its health. Is there a way out? Of course, there is but a bold leadership is needed. Money is of course important but its only part of the solution as no amount of financing can helped us from ineptitude and political expediency.
I am assuming that you had surrounded your self with a bevy of advisers to guide you in the new appointment but I implore you to go down to the ground yourself to learn first hand about the armed forces especially what ails it.
Plans maybe afoot for you to grace the latest and greatest but I doubt it will lead you to make wise decisions on the armed forces. It is best that you walked the talk and equipped yourself with the truth gleaned from tours to the armed forces oldest facilities from ships and airplane squadrons.
Spent a night in a Handalan class FAC to find out whether it is still suitable or equipped with the right equipment for mundane but necessary sea patrols.
Take a flight into the hinterland of Sarawak on a Nuri on a routine re-supply mission so you make up your mind whether the armed forces really need to new helicopters.
Spend a night on a top of hill on Temenggor dam to discover why we need to spend RM350 million on a border regiment.
Visit the war reserves depots and logistic camps, and see for yourself whether or not we need to spend more money on grease, spare barrels and the other mundane stuff to keep our war machine running and not just shiny new jets or ships.
Find out whether the things that were procured during your time in Kementah almost fifteen years ago had really added new dimension or capabilities to the armed forces or not. Get to the bottom to the ill-fated Steyr project so we all can learn from the experience.
Do not just speak to the generals and commanders, walk your talk by connecting with the captain, leftenans, sergeants, corporals and even the privates. They may not have the bigger picture but you will undoubtedly learn what is troubling them.
Check out the training camps to find out for yourself whether or not the armed forces have the means to produce leaders and warriors. These reality-based working visits would undoubtedly give you a good grounding when making hard decisions later.
After learning about the truth, perhaps you could also arrange for the same tour for our MPs ,who seemed too eager to cut the defence ringgit. I believe its time you bridged the distance between the armed forces and the elected representatives so both could work together for the benefit of the country
And after that, YB Datuk may well want to change our procurement policy so that every ringgit spent on defence goes back to the officers and soldiers you meet on the ground. By discarding the old policy, you will also reduce the opportunity for corruption in defence contracts, which will in turn boost the support for future procurements.
I understand that money is hard to come by during hard times but you must also fight tooth and nail to increase the annual and five-year term expenditure allocations so the armed forces future is secure. There is no need to bankrupt ourselves like the Soviet Union and the US, to strengthen our military, we just need to base them on our reality and needs. At the same time, it is also unwise to spend RM2 billion to buy a squadron of jet planes but at the same time, not allocating enough money for training, equipment and maintenance for these planes for the next 20 years.
Discard the bad habits that had plagued Jalan Padang Tembak during the last two decades and your legacy will be secured. No matter who will become PM within the next three years.
—Malaysian DefenceIf you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment