Defence White Paper, Why

A Spexer 2000 radar keeping watch over a coastal area. Airbus

SHAH ALAM: Defence white paper. Since the Defence Ministry announced that it was formulating a White Paper, last year, the minister, deputy and officials have try to explain the reasons for it.

The ministry has even come up with a graphic to explain itself.

The Defence White Paper, the reasons. Mindef

Despite this, I believed, the ministry has yet to come up with a proper explaination on the DWP, especially to the masses. Its not easy, actually, I must admit. However, the ministry’s deputy secretary-general (administration) Karminder Singh Dhillon has managed to do just that in a column in the New Straits Times newspaper on April. 7.

Among the things he wrote:

What constitutes a DWP and why does Malaysia need one?

At the most basic level, the DWP lays out a comprehensive long-term plan for the nation’s defence.

It puts into the public sphere, the government’s commitment to the safety of the people and to the defence of the nation’s territory and interests.

At the deeper level, DWP outlines the nation’s defence strategy, capability plans and funding requirements.

It sketches out elements of the government’s defence investment, including new weapons, platforms, systems, and the enabling equipment, facilities, workforce, information and communications technology, science and technology as well as plans for its defence industry.

Three RMAF A400M flying following the opening ceremony of LIMA 17. Airbus

More importantly, the TKSU also explained:

As a government policy document, the DWP will give coherent instruction to the defence establishment, in particular the military, about government expectations for their roles. It will also provide the rationale and authority for the allocation of resources to the defence forces, and legitimise the spending of public funds for that purpose.

Should the defence establishment wish to make a case for the nation’s gross domestic product to be pegged at a fixed rate for its annual budget, the DWP will have to make the case persuasively. If presented with due diligence, the DWP will build a constituency of advocates within the community of lawmakers, non-governmental organisations and other interest groups.

In this sense then, DWP will act as a tool for the justification of budgetary resources over a multi-year time-frame. The assurance of predictable funding, if successfully obtained, will enhance and stabilise defence planning processes.

Adnans on the firing line at Gemas. 12th RMR

And for those who worry that the DWP will reveal our defence secrets:

The transparency that the DWP creates pertaining to the nation’s defence activities domestically has the potential to extend to our neighbours as well as to the larger region.

The DWP is an efficient instrument for confidence — and security-building in that it will state and confirm the country’s bilateral, regional and multilateral obligations and commitments. Its public and open nature will ensure that Malaysia’s intentions are not misinterpreted.

Two RMAF F/A-18D flying over KD Tun Razak in 2017. RMAF.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2149 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Yes. Get the DWP done and stick to it. Its an orderly way to do things rather than each service fighting it out and in ad hoc manner

  2. A defence white paper is important so that the politicians and rakyat could measure
    1. What is expected from the Army, Navy, Airforce (and IMO MMEA too)
    2. Clear commitment on paper to support and maintain defence capabilities.
    3. To clearly show to the rakyat why defence is important. How daily lives would be affected if we let our defence down (not able to go fishing, loss of oil platforms, flight disruptions, general safety, destruction of properties due to conflict, loss of lives etc etc)
    4. Plans for the future

    BTW some older posts by marhalim on this

    Some samples of defence white paper



    Just my rambling on future plans for army, navy, airforce and MMEA

    Hope the information above could help to shape a good comprehensive defence white paper for the security of our country Malaysia.

  3. A good DWP must also have KPIs with time measurements, not just an open ended document. There should be a time limit, say 2019-2034 (15 years) for all the items in the DWP to be fulfilled. For example the Australian DWP is formulated as a plan up till 2035.

  4. “Its public and open nature will ensure that Malaysia’s intentions are not misinterpreted.”

    I don’t worry about Malaysia’s intentions towards our neighbours via DWP. I worry about the others intentions towards Malaysia and the DWP will give them an advantage in their own ‘defense’ planning. I am not totally against it if they can limit the amount of info revealed (no mention of any specific hardware or systems, just the budget allocated for what purpose is sufficient to the public in terms of expenses and vague enough to keep outsiders guessing). At the very least it will deter such nonsense like a revision on top of a revised budget done less than 1 year ago.

  5. Think to the WP and decisively, do not dither. Malaysia’s prestige and credibility depends on it.

  6. It would be easier if they just admit that they don’t have the expertise to make DWP in the first place. Please step down honorably, and let others do this seriously for our National defence sake.

    Who does actually?

  7. @t(-_- t) ²²

    i will nominate you as minister of defence, you seem to know what you’re talking about.

  8. @ t(-_- t) ²²

    Let others do? Who do you suggest? Do you want to do it?

    @ joe

    It is better for others to know of our intentions rather than we ourselves does not know the importance of our defence and the consequences of a poorly thought out one!

  9. Whats the big deal about secrecy? Nothing what in so far as hardware is concerned. Any neighbour knows what we are gonna buy. Its not gonna reveal how much is our ammo stocks for example. Brits do it all the time to justify culling called the “strategic defence review..”

  10. @…
    Really? Quite interesting theory in revealing our strategy to potential threats especially when we are not in a position of supremacy over them. I have never known any business model, sports strategist, or any form of competition that advocates such transparency unless we are not looking for a competitive edge over them, which in that case why bother to upgrade and buy newer hardware?

    Does the population need to know which MRCA we are getting and all the subsystems inside, and how many missile are included? No. The general population will be clueless about these. The people only needs to know what type of hardware (ships, fighters, tanks, etc), how much it cost, the lifecycle costing, the support level, the justification for it, and how does it fit into the general strategy of our country’s defensive matrix. It shouldn’t matter if we don’t say we are getting Typhoon, Rafale, Hornet or Sukhoi. It shouldn’t matter if we don’t say we are getting VL Mica, CAMM, Aster, or ESSM. This is my expectation for a DWP from a country without clear superiority over its neighbours.

  11. @ joe

    Is the DWP out yet? No. So shut it and dont ASSUME all the details like how many missiles or bullets we have is in there. It is a defence PLAN, not an INVENTORY.

    This is exactly why we need a DWP. To school clueless people about what defence is all about.

  12. @joe
    The reason why a DWP should be more informative is because it is a measurement of Govt effectiveness. In any democratic system a Govt needs to be held accountable, and information disclosure is the first step in accountability.

    There is no reason why our Mindef should be less informative than the other Mindefs … has pointed out above. Some of them face arguably more serious threats than we do. Yet as you can see they are comfortable publishing lots more information than we do.

    The current situation is that other countries know more about our country’s defences than our own people. Because obviously they have vast intelligence resources compared to the average citizen. Don’t think any DWP is going to reveal anything that others don’t already know.

    So given that the information is not really kept that much of a secret other than from the people who are supposed to benefit from it, ie the rakyat, there’s zero reason at all why the rakyat should not be allowed to know.

    “The general population will be clueless about these. The people only needs to know what type of hardware (ships, fighters, tanks, etc), how much it cost, the lifecycle costing, the support level, the justification for it, and how does it fit into the general strategy of our country’s defensive matrix.”

    Which you will notice is all information our Govts have never provided in an easily-accessible format. A good Mindef should provide these things in official reports, and more; it should be able to guarantee and audit a minimum availability, response times and incident records.

    “Does the population need to know which MRCA we are getting and all the subsystems inside, and how many missile are included? No. ….It shouldn’t matter if we don’t say we are getting Typhoon, Rafale, Hornet or Sukhoi. It shouldn’t matter if we don’t say we are getting VL Mica, CAMM, Aster, or ESSM.”

    Yes we do. It’s one thing to get F-18s and AMRAAMs, and something else to get Hawks and AIM-9s. It’s an important measure of effective spending and management. Without these details we are unable to fulfill the objective you mentioned above, ie a meaningful understanding of what capabilities are being obtained for how much cost.

    And we all know this is one area in which our country has an absolutely horrible track record.

  13. @ chua

    Very well said…

    Another thing to add.

    By having a DWP, there would also be a clear reference if any new buy is a need or not towards fulfilling the DWP. After this we can see clearly if say MPA aircraft is a more urgent need than the MRCA for example. So we (and the politicians) can argue if something superflous is suddenly forced to the armed forces like A400M.

  14. Off topic

    Egypt has confirmed its intention to buy six MEKO A200 frigates at a cost of 2.3 billion euros.

  15. Predicting the chinese navy of 2030.

    ” In summary, an early 2019 prediction for PLAN ships in service by 2030 are broken down as such:

    16-20 055/A destroyers (12,000 ton category)
    36-40 052D/E destroyers (7,000 ton category)
    40-50 054A/B frigates (4,000-5,000 ton category)
    Approximately 60 SSKs
    Anywhere from 16 or more SSNs (including six to eight existing SSNs)
    Anywhere from eight or more SSBNs (including four to five existing SSBNs)
    At least four aircraft carriers (two ski jump, two catapult)
    At least eight 071 LPDs (25,000 ton category)
    At least three 075 LHDs (36,000 ton category) ”

  16. Something to take into consideration for our DWP.

    Vietnam annual defence expenditure is forecasted to reach USD7.9 billion by 2024.

    Compare this to our 2019 defence expenditure of only USD3.7 billion (RM15.4 billion). Vietnam 2019 defence budget is USD5.1 billion.

  17. On our maritime defence strategy

    IMO we should have 2 levels of preparation

    1. Peacetime policing (mmea)
    2. War and conflict deterrance (navy and air force)

    No 1. is the “white hull” policy, putting forward civillian type of actions, reducing chances of escalation.

    No 2. is a serious planning of what kind of navy and air force we must have to survive the 1st week of an all out conflict in our waters. What kind of capability can survive such a scenario, and what kind of capability that can strike back (to ship and land targets) with high probability of success? IMO this would be submarines and fighters with anti-ship missiles

  18. What is mat sabu smoking?

    ” Mohamad said the white paper will focus on optimising defence assets towards disaster operations in the country and in the region such as the recent flood in the Philippines and earthquakes in Indonesia. ”

    No1 task of our defence is to defend malaysia and its interests, project a credible deterrance towards any parties that threatens the integrity and independence of malaysia.

    If disaster operations is his priority, please change portfolio with Zuraida and take care of Bomba and Civil Defence instead.

  19. Whether this White Paper will actually lead to anything positive and will consist of anything of substance remains to be seen but for sure, it’s long overdue.

    Just as important as having a minimal deterrent (in line with our finances and the threats we are likely to face) is to have the political will to use force when left with no other alternatives and for others to know that we will use force when we have too.

    The whole point in having a deterrent is to deter but if the deterrent fails; there must be the political will and the proper decision making mechanism in place to move to the next level.

    It will make a key difference if the politicians have a clear/realistic understanding as to what the MAF can and can’t do. The politicians must also have complete trust and confidence in the advice and options given to them by those in uniform.

  20. Some of our neighbours has announced their 2020 defence budget

    The Philippines – USD3.6 billion

    Indonesia – USD8.9 billion

  21. supposedly DWP will come in august and now its almost end of it…really hope we see DWP soon follow with a good defense budget to support it.

    It has been postponed to November, no idea why

  22. @ marhalim

    I thought the DWP is to be in October?

    Its to be tabled in Parliament in October, it did not say when the public document will be made public.

  23. I’m not expecting much with the White Paper. It will give a general outline on what our concerns are and our priorities but not more than that. It will not go into detail in how we plan to address the carousel threats/challenges; not will it be too specific as to certain threats/challenges we face.

  24. Some update of our neighbours announced 2020 defence budget

    The Philippines – USD3.6 billion

    Indonesia – USD8.9 billion

    Thailand – USD7.6 billion

  25. Just launched today

    Dasar Keselamatan dan Ketenteraman Awam (DKKA)

    There is 6 core principles (teras) of DKKA. Teras 3 Memperkukuhkan Kawalan Keselamatan Sempadan Negara and Teras 6 Melindungi Aset dan Sasaran Penting Negara, IMO would be very closely related to the military and also the future DWP.

    @ marhalim

    just came across this

    Wow, did you really manage to write that?

    No I didn’t

  26. Some thoughts on Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) and its relation to our DWP

    On Key Economic Growth Activities (KEGA), looking at KEGA 9 – coastal and maritime economy.

    Without firm policies to protect and secure our EEZ areas, KEGA 9 will be severely compromised. If we lose our EEZ, we will have smaller fishing areas, we might lose our oil and gas reservoirs, which in turn lose one of our biggest economic contributors.

  27. As the budget 2020 already been tabled, lets compare known asian defence budgets

    Malaysia – USD3.7 billion (RM15.6 billion)

    The Philippines – USD3.6 billion

    Indonesia – USD8.9 billion

    Thailand – USD7.6 billion

  28. Some comments on TNI-AU wishlist 2020-2024

    – 32 F-16V to replace hawk 200
    – 5 more Su-35 to add to 11 ordered
    – 8 more super tucano to add to 15 now operational
    – 21 T-50 to add to current 15.
    – 7 C-130J
    – 8 NC-295
    – 2 Tankers, probably A330
    – 2 AWACS
    – 2 regiments of SR SAM
    – 2 regiments of MR SAM
    – 2 regiments of LR SAM
    – 3 more regiments of oerlikon skyshield
    – 2 more VERA NG ESM

    This will all be bought at around the same timeframe as our Rancangan Malaysia Ke 12 2021-2025. By 2025 indonesian air force, if all the plans realised, would be quite a formidable air force. Its fighter force would consist of
    65+ F-16
    32 Su-27/30/35 flankers
    36 T-50i golden eagles
    23 super tucanos

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