Malaysia: The World Top Arms Importer! Edited

KUALA LUMPUR: Based on the Trends in international arms transfers, 2009 Paul Holtom, Mark Bromley, Pieter D. Wezeman and Siemon D. Wezeman SIPRI Fact Sheet it appears that Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, are in an arms race.

The 722 percent figure cited by the publication really sounds alarming doesnt it? But the data must be seen in its full context though. Since we had to procure arms in 10 year cyclical basis, no thanks to the 1997 economic crisis, one would expect such spike in percentage however. But since explaining such matters are the purview of people with more power and getting more money than me, I will leave it to them then.

The statement by SIPRI has been published for a while now but it has not received much publicity so far until Reuters used that data in its report here. I am sure will make a meal out of this.

Online news portal, Malaysiakini also jumped into the bandwagon, but alas their take on their issue is really a poor cut and paste job!

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
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  1. ”To regulate the arms trade and prevent the transfer of weapons to armed groups fueling conflicts, terrorists and human rights violators”.

    Surely that would mean that almost all the oil rich Arabs countries, all which are undemocratic and have scant regard for the rights of their own citizens would not be able to spend their petrol dollars on toys from Uncle and Europe. That would also include the U.S., which has initiated military action on a whole list of countries in the name of freedom and the ‘war on terror’ and off course Israel which continues to defy UN resolutions to vacate Arab land on continues to illegally buil settlements some on these lands. And lets not forget Russia for it’s abuses in Chechnya and China for occupying Tibet and Turkestan [read… Xinjiang].

    The conference is just another waste of time. The top arms exporting countries will continue to export for the revenue generated and as part of their respective foreign policies and be very selective when it comes to human rights and terrorism. After all its business….

  2. Read this thread. Robert Karniol, calls it an ‘Arms resurgence in South-east Asia’ rather than a race. A quick review of data presented by Robert Karniol does not seem to indicate of a region wide ‘arms race’. I think that a strong case can be made that there is ongoing modernization efforts in only some ASEAN countries like Malaysia.

    Looking at the actors in East Asia security complex, defence expenditures of China, South Korea and Japan, each of their respective procurement budget would dwarf that of all of S.E. Asia combined. Look at the South Asia security complex, again some big numbers for India.

    For more info, see link provided:

    Marhalim: Yes based on per centage it appears that Malaysia is in an arms race. But its not, 18 Flankers does not make war as does 48 PT91s or six gun armed PVs. I believe the percentage spiked as most of these weapons does not exist in the Malaysian inventory before, Flanker (MRCA), MBTs, submarine etc. But since SIPRI is supposed to promote peace I guess creative license was necessary in this case.

  3. Malaysian arms purchases since the 90’s have been geared at replacing obsolete gear and introducing new capabilities that were previously lacking. No arms purchases have or were intended to change the regional balance of power. The same goes for Thailand and Indonesia which in theory should be spending much, much more, based on the size of their countries and armed forces and operational requirements.

  4. According to SIPRI data, Malaysia’s defence spending as a percentage of GDP from 1995 to 2007 (2008 and 2009 figures were not available) and the amount spent for defence in constant (2005) US dollars were stated :

    1990 – Malaysia: 2.6% (US$1,241 m)
    1991 – Malaysia: 3.2% (US$1,690 m)
    1992 – Malaysia: 3.0% (US$1,679 m)
    1993 – Malaysia: 2.9% (US$1,784 m)
    1994 – Malaysia: 2.8% (US$1,933 m)
    1995 – Malaysia: 2.8% (US$2,055 m)
    1996 – Malaysia: 2.4% (US$1,976 m)
    1997 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$1,858 m)
    1998 – Malaysia: 1.6% (US$1,365 m)
    1999 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$1,847 m)
    2000 – Malaysia: 1.6% (US$1,677 m)
    2001 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$2,086 m)
    2002 – Malaysia: 2.2% (US$2,370 m)
    2003 – Malaysia: 2.6% (US$3,022 m)
    2004 – Malaysia: 2.3% (US$2,917 m)
    2005 – Malaysia: 2.3% (US$3,120 m)
    2006 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$3,054 m)
    2007 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$3,409 m)
    2008 – Malaysia: N.A. (US$3,479 m) estimated

  5. OPSSG – ‘I think that a strong case can be made that there is ongoing modernization efforts in only some ASEAN countries like Malaysia.’

    There are ‘ongoing’ modernisation efforts in all ASEAN countries except maybe Brunei, Cambodia and Laos. But only one country has been able to mantain a consistent modernisation programme and pursue a policy of mantaining a technological military edge and in many key areas a numerical edge.

    Prior to the MAF arms purchases these past 10 years or so – MKMs, ASTROS, PT-91, Adnan, Jernas, Igla, Super Lynxs, A400M, NGOPV, Alenia radars, Scorpene, etc,there was a brief period from 1990 – 1996 of high priced purchases – Fulcrums, Hornets, Lekiu frigates, Hawks – the biggest most sustained modernisation effort was during PERISTA – OPVs, Condors, Sibmas, Scorpions, Skyhawks, etc. If indeed Malaysia was on an arms race or intended to keep up with one of its neighbours, as has been alleged in another forum, I believe the MAF’s order of battle would be very different, notwithstanding its financial limitations and political meddling.

  6. Malaysia as top arms importer but for what and why?
    Preparing for war that come out of mediocre generals imagination in the armed forces headed by the general of the tip of the iceberg!!!
    Marhalim… real joke as the defense of the nation is without guideline or any defense policy and the country is buying anything for the kickback and get rich quick scheme.
    Don’t believe me, ask the general with the tip of the iceberg where is the missing F5E engine and did they torture Sgt Tharmenderan?
    About time to cut the Defense budget and down size the Armed Forces as they are too many stars on the shoulders but “tak buat apa pun”. Go and ask the PAT, What has he done to improve the Armed Forces? Ziltch……he is a no brainer!!!

  7. Slashing the defence budget and size of the MAF is in my opinion not the answer. Like it or not, this currently has legitimate security concerns and unfortunatly, ensuring that this country has the means to defend itself and its interests does not come cheap.

    What is needed is for the kerajaan to adopt a new defence policy in line with a restructuring of the MAF. And to ensure that what we buy is really what we need and is not dictated by any political or so called ‘national interests’ intended to benefit certain companies or individuals. Unfortunatly, many but not all of the senior leadership in the MAF, it appears are too interested in planning for their future directorships in private companies after retirement and in playing golf rather than the interest of their men and the country’s defence. We need leaders with a strong backbone rather than ‘yes’ men who echo what their political masters want, in the best tradition of what somebody else here termed ‘bodekland’…

  8. Dear Mr Eagle, one should not miss that the the PAT has no definite power in the armed forces and the minister of defense has the real power in deciding anything for the armed forces.

    I believe that the F5E missing engine scandal is largely because of the corrupted officer in the armed forces and it has nothing to do with the PAT, the people in the ministry of defense or even the federal goverment.

    Writing in a more polite manner here, instead of pointing emotionally and directly to other people, we should do some homework first. No people in this universe have ever being elected for something as important as the PAT and they do nothing good for their responsibilities. Tetapi adalah seorang dua melayu tu macam tu…

    We import arms because we need to modernize our armed forces in our cause to keep up with the latest threats around the world and be a competitive armed forces in the region. But, since our economy have just start to recover back from the 2009 economic-downturn, we need to slow down this process.

  9. Azlan, if you read the link I’ve provided, I’m defending Malaysia’s arms purchases. IMO, they should enhance regional security and would not change the regional balance of power (I’m assuming that both Singapore and Malaysia have common security interests that can be furthered jointly). I like the sub purchases for fit to Malaysia’s security concerns and threat matrix (despite the rather stringent criticisms by Malaysian opposition to the purchase).


    A link to another forum which has excerpts from a Dzirhan article in response to the malaysiankini artice about Malaysian defence spending. A great read!!!!!!

    My favourite parts –

    ”The other thing to note is that in relating the issues of the missing jet engines and the Eurocopter Cougar purchase, the article makes it sound that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee simply rubberstamps the governments, not mentioning that the PAC is bipartisan and that some of the Pakatan’s key MPs sit on it, this actually brings up the matter raised in Pt. 3 of the article in which it is argued that there needs to be a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on defence which just leads me to point out that if the Pakatan MPs on the PAC can’t find any wrongdoing while sitting on the PAC, what makes anyone think they can do the same on anther committee. In any event anyone who can read BM and wants a good laugh can download from Parliament’s website the transcripts of the PAC hearings into the Eurocopter purchase, and see how woefully little our MPs on both sides of the divide know on defence.”

    ”To some extent some of the problems that exist with defence in Malaysia can be laid not only on Tun Mahathir’s door but his successors as Prime Minister as well, all of whom were willing to postpone or defer crucial defence programs at various times which led to the MAF’s having too many things needed to fix when they finally obtained funding. This itself could be a chapter by itself but suffice to say is that the Malaysiakini article cannot simply lay the blame for everything at the door of the Defence Ministry.”

    Marhalim: Its on his facebook page. Search for Dzirhan Mahadzir on Facebook page

  11. Marhalim, out of curiosity which is your personal favourite with the army’s SPH programme and if you had to guess which do you think will be selected the next 2-3 years?
    The Archer can’t fit in a cargo bay of a C-130 and the Pzh 2000, even if offered cheaply from surplus stocks is probably too heavy at 55 tones, so I guess that leaves just the Caesar and Thunder.

    Marhalim: I personally like the Archer, with its automatic loader and such plus using a Volvo chassis is quite appealing to me, Thunder will be my second favourite again with the automatic loader although I am not too keen on having another tracked vehicle to the mix. Long time ago I am told that the Thunder was the favourite, however, I am not sure which is the one that its favoured by the Army. By any means the Thunder is the cheapest even if we need to buy the ARV……

  12. Mr Syameer, You need to know a lot more regarding Malaysian Armed Forces and you need to come up with a better perspective on the MAF leadership.
    Didn’t the PAT that blew the missing F5E engine and with his famous “tip of the iceberg”. So if the power is not with him why even open up his mouth when as the no.1 soldier and having served as the RMAF Chief, he seemed clueless.
    Not even knowing the cost estimate of the missing item, trying to act smart but making his minister look like a gold fish in the glass aquarium. If the top guns are not accountable, so blame the sargeant or anybody else!!! Typical Malaysians’ leadership syndrome .
    Tell us out here what has he done to improve the MAF. Has there been any new initiatives that benefit the soldiers and the nation in the name of national security and national interest?
    Zilch!!! who need to do some homework? Me, PAT, Minister, you or Marhalim? or none of the above!
    Remember that those with power in the MAF are writing the history but don’t forget that the final chapter is yet to be completed.

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