New Chief, Plan B, Sort Off

SHAH ALAM: New Chief, Plan B, Sort Off. Former National Defence University (UPNM) vice chancellor and Army Chief Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin officially took over as the 20th Armed Forces Chief or Chief of Defence Force today (June 20, 2018). Zulkifli took over from Gen Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Nor who is retiring. The change was made soon after the May 9 general elections which saw the previous BN administration replaced by the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Gen Affandi (left) and Gen Zulkifli signing the handing over documents at the Defence Ministry today. Bernama

Raja Affandi replaced Zulkifli as the Army Chief in 2013 before his appointment as the CDF in 2016 replacing Gen Zulkifeli Mohd Zin. The change over also led to the appointment of Gen Zulkiple Kassim as the Army chief after Raja Affandi took over as the CDF.

Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin. Utusan picture

It is interesting to note that both generals (Raja Affandi and Zulkifli) have been in contention for top posts since 2010 when they were shortlisted for the deputy army chief post. Zulkifli was made the deputy Army chief, and a year later in 2011, he was promoted as the Army chief. In 2013, Raja Affandi (who was then the Armed Forces headquarters chief of staff, a post he held since 2009) replaced Zulkifli as the Army Chief, shortly after the end of the Lahad Datu incident, which led the latter to return to the UPNM for a second stint while still holding the general rank.

Raja Mohamed Affandi

Zulkifli’s appointment as the country top soldier was first reported by the New Straits Times.

An expert in tactical weapons and insurgency, as well as being a sniper, Zulkifli confirmed the appointment when contacted by NSTP, but declined further comment. It is learnt that Zulkifli, who is due for compulsory retirement on Nov 30 this year, had been on resettlement (pre-retirement) leave since May 15 after handing over his duties as vice-chancellor of the National Defence University.

Armed Forces headquarters chief of staff Lt Gen Datuk Abdul Halim Jalal succeeded Zulkifli as vice-chancellor.

“It has been five years out in the cold for Zulkifli, and he is now back in the saddle where he rightly belongs,” said a source.

The source added that it was “payback time” for Zulkifli, who was “unceremoniously” replaced as Army chief with Gen Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor on June 14, 2013.

Zulkifli, who was made Army chief on June 14, 2011, was then re-designated as the university’s vice-chancellor in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

It is not known yet what will happen to the plans laid out by the Armed Forces following the appointment of the new chief though the RMN 15 to 5 plan is looking very vunerable. It will also be interesting to see what Zulkifli will do with the Gempita program. He was involved in the initial development of the program but the first production vehicles were rolled out during Raja Affandi’s stint as the Army chief. Raja Affandi made some changes to the Gempita notably amphibious capability for some of the variants.

One of the first production model Gempita, fitted with the 25mm Bushmaster turret.

Zulkifli’s appointment has also put in jeopardy the succession plan for the CDF post put in place when Raja Affandi’s contract was extended last year. It is likely that Zulkifli will be the chief for at least two years though this may change of course.

*This is an updated version of this post. This post was uploaded earlier due to a scheduling mistake.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. No surprise here given that bald b*****d’s public declaration of loyalty to the wrong side of history during this latest election campaign (too much to drink during the party perhaps?)… Good riddance to someone who pledge loyalty not to the nation, the people and the constitutions but to a corrupt politician. All the spectacle of retiring is likely nothing but a graceful stepping down less he want to be publicly booted out…

  2. I believe the baldy forgot he’s serving the rakyat via the King. Technically the armed forces is not the civil service though many personnel see themselves as such.

    There is nothing wrong being bald. I am bald by choice.

  3. The military is part of the civil service. Dont think you are above or special as long as you serve the public trust.

  4. I am getting more confused by the day. How can an Army Chief (PTD) get transferred to UPNM and remained in cold storage before being thawed by the PH govt. I know a Lt.Kol was in cold storage for 7 yrs at Bhg Logistik after promoted from Mejar . This story is weird for me.

    Various reasons for your Lt Kol to be peti ais, women, corruption or simply not following orders. As for the new PAT it was previous PAT twice removed, wanted it and no one in the previous administration dare to go against him

  5. serving the rakyat,king or nation. which one?a lot of people said the army should serving the nation and loyal to king but who paid the paycheck?is it the rakyat who blindlessly believe the army have a vast budget that need to be trim with mentality RHIB can be used to venture to it the king which as far as we can see, what can they do to betterment of our armed force because they also have limited power.

    nope. its all rest with the politician who made the budget,proposal and even spending. the civil servant(teacher,police,hospital staff and etc) can ask or propose but at the end of the day, the politician(minister and other) was the deciding factor here. so no wonder some of the civil servant tried to please the politician who comply with their need and wants.

    now the reason i said all those not to defend anyone but just want us all to think and reflect. those who make choice have make their choice. some not wise,some stupid and some even follow their emotion( i remember before this some stupid civil servant sold his properties at putrajaya because govt will bankrupt,but see the price of properties there now). but who we are to blatantly mock or even “keji” them(those at higher position). they also come from ground level and experience the lack/nothing funding and equipment to complete the work. now when they at higher ups they need to cater need and want from right,left,below and above which is tiring and messy(we know how certain people tend to fight hard for what they need). but they do what they have to do.

    they make the choice and now face the consequences. thats it. do not dwell on it. now we move forward.

  6. Latest news

    Australia will fund a AUD$22 million upgrade to TUDM Butterworth air force base. This year is also the 60th anniversary of RAAF presence in Butterworth AFB.

  7. @Kerberos & @Zack
    “Generals proposes, politicians disposes”
    Budgetary chunk and promotions follows favouritism withing the powers-that-be. In the end, all that including salary, positioning, increaments, all are determined by the politicians of the day.

    So I would not be so critical of the previous general being subservient to the PM then, much as I have no doubts that the new general is beholden to the current administration for bringing him out of cold storage. At least our military aren’t so independent-minded like their counterparts up north.

  8. Agree with Zack. You deal with the consequence of a done decision as it comes. In the armed forces, the government of the day may pay your wages but the guy in uniform ‘holds the King’s Commissione’. In so doing, he serves the country, and rakyat.
    What is of concern is this…whether ATM is being given the proper tools and men to carry out their duties.

  9. @Taib
    “ATM is being given the proper tools and men to carry out their duties.” Just like a husband is subservient to the Home & Finance Minister (wink), a general would be as subservient to those who holds the pursestrings despite their pledge to King and Country.

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