Deferments, A Blessing in Disguise?

KUALA LUMPUR: At the risk of being accused of being an Umno fanatic, Malaysian Defence would like to offer an alternative view on the deferment of defence procurement blamed mostly on the current global economic crisis.

The pause in the defence procurement comes at a time during the transition of power of the country’s top leadership with Najib taking over from Pak Lah, supposedly in March, next year. Najib’s ascension as PM during these challenging times, may well be the catalyst of change for someone who had overseen the defence sector for the last 20 years.

Malaysian Defence is hopeful for a total transformation of the defence sector as Najib looks to consolidate his political future even though many will feel, from his past records, that it may well be short-term.

Nonetheless, as the old Latin cliche like to remind us, Fortune Favour the Bold and Najib may well surprised us although he has yet to show his hand. There are other benchmarks that will helped him secure his future, of course (the economy, national integration and many others) but as this is Malaysian Defence. we will focused on this area of interest. Since Najib cannot continue with many of Pak Lah’s policies and programmes – much of it inherited from the Old Man – if he wanted to serve for more than one term, we may well see a rainbow after the rain.

Is he up to it and did he learn anything from the recent tribulations? Only time will tell and it will be soon indeed.

The deferment is also a blessing in disguise for the armed forces. This will give the leadership and the officer’s corps time to reflect on what had happened in the past and perhaps planned for a better future. It is up to them really with the co-operation of their political masters. Malaysian Defence is confident that the majority of the officer’s corps is receptive to changes but can the same be said of their political masters?

The armed forces must strive to work harder first and foremost to ensure its plans are in place to ensure its programmes and priorities are taken into account during the procurement process. Cleaning up the procurement process may well be elementary if first and foremost that the armed forces views and strategies are taken into account. Without a clear policy and strategy it is very easy to be swayed by emotions.

And more importantly, it is the time the officer corps renew and honour their oaths of allegiance to god, king and country.

–Malaysian Defence

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9 Comments

  1. First priority for MINDEF is to restore public trust in ATM’s procurment process. It is not enough to say that there would be tenders. While better than a direct nego process, tenders can still be easily manipulated.

    Something more drastic is needed. I would propose the implementation of the “integrity pact” concept for large arms procument (say RM100 mil above). In an integrity pact, the goverment and the potential arms suppliers enter into an agreement that everyone (including the government) will be playing by the same rules and that the process will be free from corruption and unfair practices. Suppliers that breach this agreement will be blacklisted. Commissions paid to agents are required to be disclosed, as well as their identities. An independent body is then appointed whose job is to monitor compliance of all parties with the terms of the pact.

    More details of the integrity pact

    http://www.defenceagainstcorruption.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=120&Itemid=218

    Marhalim: Its interesting concept Ree. I believe the armed forces leadership is open to such process to ensure that their boys and girls get their dues, not only salary wise. The matter however lies with their political masters. I know it is easy to call for changes when your head does not lie on the chopping block but I guess we have to start somewhere

  2. If we want to weed out corruption in the Ministry of Defence, one need to introduce bold measures.To start with I would like to suggest all international procurements must be done on a government-to-governement basis.The US FMS (Foreign Military Sales) is a good example to follow.The US government decides on the project price and put a cap on the maximun amount of commission which could paid to the local agent.The US manufacturer of the weapon system and the local agent is subject to Foreign Practice Corrupt Act (FPCA).If they break the FPCA they can be put in jail and their companies blacklisted or worse closed for good.

    Marhalim, don’t just talk and waste time.I challenge you to write an artice about this issue in the local dailies if you are serious about eliminating corruption in the Ministry of Defence.

    Marhalim: it is not whether I can write about it, its whether they will published it…..

  3. This is what the Army chief and the Bernama reporter thinks about the issue. Still beyond the curve ball.

    Public Should View Positively Defence Procurements

    By Shahrullizan Rusli

    SEREMBAN, Nov 13 (Bernama) — Since of late a number of procurement programmes to enhance the defence capabilities of the nation were viewed negatively by the general public as seen in the procurement of EC-725 Eurocopter and Scorpene submarines.

    The public and the politicians questioned on the need to purchase weapons worth billions of ringgit and who are our real enemies.

    Such reasoning may be due to the unfounded perception that Malaysia faces no real threats from outside and there are improprieties involved in the defence procurements.

    Maybe many have forgotten about the confrontation that occurred more than 40 years ago, after independence in 1957, where a neighbouring nation declared confrontation with Malaya when the Federation of Malaysia was proposed.

    THREATS CAN HAPPEN ANY TIME

    The procurement of the defence assets are done based on the National Defence Policy (DPN) that allows the nation to consider a defensive or offensive approach in protecting its soverignty.

    According to army commander General Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin, the policy calls for the parties concerned to establish the Operational Concept (OC).

    “OC is important as it reflects how the DPN is implemented, according to the needs when defending our national sovereignty within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” he said to the writer after an event here in Port Dickson recently.

    The defence strategists will check the assets needed to overcome vulnerabilities when developing the national defence strategy, for example whether the nation has enough maritime assets to protect the EEZ, he said.

    “This is where the strategists at the Armed Forces Command will seek ways to enhance the defence capabilities by looking into the needs, whether we need a warship, new planes, a bigger infantry and so on.

    PRIORITY FOR ALL THREE DEFENCE BRANCHES

    “During the Emergency days, the army was given priority as they needed the best armament to defeat the communists,” he said.

    Today, in line with the present challenges, priority is given to the navy and air force but this doesn’t mean the army has been sidelined.

    Muhammad Ismail said currently an asset that is lacking in protecting our sovereignty is the lack of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (Awacs) that would enable the defence forces to monitor more closely the nation’s airspace.

    Malaysia has surface radar but the coverage is inadequate to detect aircraft violating our airspace, he added.

    “We have to formulate a flexible programme as the government may not be able to develop a comprehensive defence programme in the short run, there are possibilities of postponing the procurement of assets for services with a smaller role in the National Defence Policy,” he said.

    ATTITUDE OF MALAYSIANS DISHEARTENING

    He said the attitude of some Malaysians and politicians were disappointing as they were unaware on the importance to develop the national defence capabilities.

    “Each time a procurement is made, it is linked with corrupt practices. Many remain ignorant and this is obvious when they ask why buy fighter jets…who are our enemies, wouldn’t it be better to invest the money in infrastructure development and so on,” he said.

    A survey conducted by Bernama on Internet chat rooms shows such negative perception on defence procurement is hardly evident on Indonesians or Singaporeans.

    The Indonesians in fact regretted for their nation’s failure to develop its naval capabilities and instead allowed its neighbour Malaysia to “bully” the biggest Southeast Asian nation in the overlapping claim over Sipadan and the crisis over Ambalat sometime back.

    Meanwhile the Singaporeans are extremely proud with their nation’s defence capabilities and this can be seen in sgforums.com especially in the opinion column “Militarynuts”.

    — BERNAMA

  4. Tan Sri does not get it as usual. The public perception of the Armed Forces and defence procurement is negative because of the litany of failures and scandals that plague Kementah. What he should have said is that the Army and the Armed Forces accept that they have been derelict in their duty to ensure that their expenditure of taxpayer’s ringgit provided the best return on investment.

    He should have apologized for further degrading the limited operational capabilities of the PUTD by reconfiguring 2 of the A109M light helicopters to VIP duty, directly causing an 18% loss of operational capability.

    This is not leadership. Leader do not pass the buck. They do not blame the taxpayer. They take responsibility for failures and shortcomings and strive to improve delivery and accountability, both scarcer than hens teeth in Kementah. He could have come clean with the real reasons behind the adoption of the M4.

    The Armed Forces has not engaged the rakyat in defining their role within the nation. They have chosen to sequester themselves away from public discourse and address only the government of the day. In years past, that might have been an acceptable strategy but the situation has changed and they have not, Stuck in the old ways, they are being made to pay for it as the public sentiment towards them is increasingly negative.

    Singapore is a nation of citizen-soldiers. Every man has served his time in NS. They are stakeholders in the institution by design. This is not the case in Malaysia. Further, the abuses rampant in our procurement are largely absent in Singapore thanks to their uncompromising attitude to corruption. We can hardly say the same.

    ‘Armed Forces need to the Earn the Public Trust and Affection’, should have been the title of the article. There lies the crux of the matter, why the rakyat continues to view dimly the men with stars and no spine.

  5. Yup..still behind the curve.

    Overall, I find that there are many Malaysians who care about defence. However, taxpayers like me also want our money to be well spent. Not go to waste or worse.

    Also lousy research by Bernama. “Militarynuts” forum? Thats a military enthusiast forum! What to expect? I am sure if they go check Malaysian defence forums on the net they will find the same (or louder) chest thumpings by Malaysians.

    Marhalim: I am not too sure we put much blame on the Tan Sri on whole tone of the story. Maybe a few quotes here and there which may well cause us to believe the Tan Sri is behind the curve.. But much of the story was another PR attempt which misfired. I sent a comment to the editor but it was returned as undeliverable mail. Oh well…

  6. I was supposed to go for this event but backed out as I am still recovering from hernia surgery two weeks ago. Anyways, heres what the PAT got to say…

    Armed Forces Looks To AWACS Aircraft To Monitor Expansive Coastline

    KUALA LANGAT, Nov 15 (Bernama) — The armed forces needs AWACS aircraft to enhance its capability in the aerial surveillance of the country’s expansive coastline stretching from Perlis to Sabah, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal said Saturday.

    He said eight AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft were necessary to conduct round-the-clock monitoring.

    Abdul Aziz said the armed forces had sought government allocation to buy the AWACS aircraft, widely used by the United States and its allies, even before the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) period.

    However, it would continue to strive to obtain the allocation, perhaps under the 10th or 11th plans, he told reporters after closing a media programme in conjunction with the diamond jubilee of the armed forces, at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) camp in Bukit Jugra here.

    Abdul Aziz said the armed forces would leave the decision on the purchase of the multi-billion ringgit aircraft to the government.

    “We will leave it to the government for consideration. The question is whether we can afford it now or later. We understand the government’s financial situation,” he said.

    Asked of the reduction in the 2009 budgetary allocation for defence, Abdul Aziz said it was a measure to slash unnecessary expenditure and would not adversely affect the armed forces’ preparedness.

    The one-day media programme which began yesterday involved about 110 media representatives who participated in various activities such as shooting and watched assault demonstrations by air force personnel.

    — BERNAMA

  7. Marhalim….did you miss this? Is there a strip at RMAF Buket Jugra? Seems strange to have them camped without Air access.

    MArhalim: I was not able to go to Bukit Jugra as I was still recovering from a hernia operation. Bukit Jugra role as the country main air defence radar station was expanded to include the main camp for PASKAU. Its supposedly capable of taking STOL aircraft (what type I do not know) but helicopters are kosher…

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