SHAH ALAM: Planning for failure. Even though the current defence minister said that the ministry will abide by the Defence White Paper 2019 (DWP) and its 2021-2025 strategic plan, both documents remained as talking points only.
Yes, I understand that the DWP19 document available on the ministry website, is the public version, but I have been told that even the classified one do not have a detailed funding plan. That said I have not seen it so maybe I am wrong. I have been told though the Finance Ministry officials were dead set against a detailed funding plan, and this was evident as the DWP did not include any spending target to meet the aspiration of the Parliament passed document.
The Defence Ministry had hoped that they could include a 2 per cent allocation per the Malaysian GDP for defence with the DWP but this was not approved. This was not helped further when the-then Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu told the media that the ministry wanted the defence spending allocated at one per cent of the GDP!
Do note that for the 2023 budget, the Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces had asked for 1.5 per cent per the GDP as allocation but the previous government had allocated only RM17.4 billion or 0.98 per cent of the 2021 Malaysian GDP. A two percent allocation will likely be around RM34 billion. The actual defence budget for 2023 could even be lower than proposed one.
Why am I talking about the DWP then? Newly appointed RMN Chief Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob in his first message to the service stated that the 15-to-5 plan will continue with some modifications. He did not reveal the modifications though. Abdul Rahman said as the ministry and the Armed Forces had stated that the DWP and Strategic Plan will go ahead, the RMN 15-to-5 plan will follow suit.
“However, with the changes in the geo-political landscape, financial restrictions and industrial capability constraints meant that the plan developed in the last five years need requires reasonable changes. Major projects such as the LCS – which is undergoing lengthy delays – will need to continue and the LMS Batch 2 have been registered for funding. Work on the new naval base in Bintulu, Sarawak, which will allow shorter access to areas of interest nearby will also be expedited.”
Do note that RMN can only modify the 15-to-5 plan as it cannot deviate too much from it, as it was part of the DWP that was passed by Parliament. This is the same with the Army and RMAF though they do not have a white elephant unlike the RMN. As such despite the geo-political landscape, financial restrictions and industrial capability constraints it still needed to be carry it out. Unless a new DWP is passed or after it lapsed in 2030.
— Malaysian Defence