Show Me The Money

Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH. KAI

SHAH ALAM: Show me the money. With the world economy teetering with recession (some say its already in recession) and with the Malaysian economy with it, one may assume its not going to be smooth sailing for the national security sector.

Bernama is reporting that the government is already taking measure to reduce public spending. The Malay Mail posted the report datelined Kota Bharu which stated:

KOTA BARU, July 17 — The government is taking measures to save public expenditure by postponing or not continuing any project that has yet to commence, to enable money to be channelled for the welfare of the people, apart from efforts toward the country’s economic recovery.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said that the move was in response to a directive issued via the Malaysia Treasury Circular — Guidelines on Public Expenditure Savings.

“I have held meetings with the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) on the financial position, to see the projects that have yet to commence.

“Hence, if it (project) is just about to start, there is no need to continue, while if something has already started, we will discuss which developments we need, either to defer or cancel,” he said.

PAL Aerospace/De Havilland Dash 8 400 P-4 MPA. PAL Aerospace.

Although the report did not specifically stated the national security sector, it is obvious from past experiences – 1997 and 2008 economic crisis – the sector will take a hit. It is for this reason, it is likely that procurement for completely new capabilities – the MPA and MALE UAS – may well be the ones that will be deferred. As the FLIT/LCA project is basically a replacement for a capability that need replacement it may well survived the austerity drive. But the numbers may well be lower than initially expected.
A close up of LCS 1 Maharaja Lela at the BNS yard in Lumut taken in 2018.

As for the LCS project, it also may survive the austerity drive as shutting it down again will have a tremendous impact on the local vendors. It is likely though the project may well be extended well beyond 2030.
FNSS Pars 4X4 equipped with a RWS with anti-tank missiles displayed at DSA 2022. EL/SC

Other projects like the LMS Batch II and the 4X4/6X6 are also likely the ones to be deferred.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

18 Comments

  1. Guess this is what happens when national defence is still stuck in the capability building phase. While its reasonable defence spending is cut during a crisis, it has to be noted, it has been cut or kept low even when the economy is growing. So is LCS still a worthwhile investment? On the LCA, given the government has a tendency to stop buying after the initial purchase, whatever numbers purchase in Phase 1 will likely be all that is available for the next 30 years. Perhaps we need the same situation faced by the Philippines – where a major external threat has been defined – to fix the problem. Singapore justifies its high defence spending by saying they are a small red dot surrounded by volatile and unstable regimes.

  2. What I heard from Def. Gov official
    LCS – continue at slower pace
    MPA – cancel or delayed to next RMK
    UAV – to proceed
    LMS – planning stage – next RMK
    LCA – cheaper plane or reduction in number of planes planned. min. 6 or 8, or less. Tejas now under higher consideration together with Turkish. FA 50 lowest priority. Political decision.
    Bases – to proceed (renovation, refurbishment)
    Other smaller procurements – to scrutinize. Delay if possible.

    Malaysia government no money so have to take such drastic actions.

  3. We defer the already defered. When good times come, the politicians tend to forget. So we have an armed forces not capable of soing much except defend against non state actors. That also after they have landed.

  4. Not even one has been delivered yet. The last time I checked it was supposed to be this August. Anyhow since the contract has been signed the project cannot be deferred

  5. If the LCA program is 6 to 8 planes, its probably a dud program destined to be a waste of tax payers money unless the govt commits to 18 planes but stretch the deliveries. The LCA was meant to replace the Hawks and as a part-replacement of the Mig-29. So 6 to 8 planes means the Hawks will need to fly until their wings fall apart or its engines fall out of the sky. In any case, what we have is – no new ships until 2030 (expecting the LCS to be delayed until 2040), no new jets until 2026 (expecting the government to delay deliveries and payments to the next RMK), no new quarters for soldiers (since government thinks building more MRT that no one rides on is a better spend). Sad indeed.

  6. LCS – continue at slower pace
    MPA – cancel or delayed to next RMK
    UAV – to proceed
    LMS – planning stage – next RMK
    LCA – cheaper plane or reduction in number of planes planned. min. 6 or 8, or less. Tejas now under higher consideration together with Turkish. FA 50 lowest priority. Political decision.
    Bases – to proceed (renovation, refurbishment)
    Other smaller procurements – to scrutinize.(Kamal)
    Actually thought the same. LMS and MPA will take a hit. But am somewhat mystified how exactly HAL Tejas and TAI Hurjet will bring down any expenditure knocking down possible FA50 buys.
    Are they actually betting on ‘fact’ that HAL is famed for its delays or TAI may get into delays in its Hurjet program?
    Or given all that, is Tuk Pa actually all there by asserting these defence purchases are the right ticks to be deferred (indefinitely) as usual? Politicians are dumb, mind my language.

  7. No, Tuk Pa didn’t say anything about defence. But as I mentioned in the story every time the government says austerity drive, its always the national security sector especially defence that took the greatest hit as buying arms if you are not at war is seen as wasteful. Especially if those arms do not have the national interest quota

  8. My take.
    Govt austerity drives are mostly lip service, usually last a year or two. After that if they not gonna spend on Item A they will spend on Item B, but regardless they WILL SPEND IT.

    IMHO infrastructure development and new build works (ie new bases, new buildings, new camps) will not be pared down in fact it might get a boost at the expense of others simply cuz it is an easy political tool as an economy driver, a job creator, something the rakyat could see being useful, and something the endusers want as well.

    Equipment buys would be most affected. Those in progress like LCS, OPV, relifes & rehulls, gs cargo trucks, etc would still go on albeit perhaps with stretched timelines. Those with national interest and significant ICP or offsets would likely survive the cull. Others that mostly will involve buying with lotsa foreign currency will surely be KIV, esp big ticket items ie LCA, Caesar SPG, 4×4/6×6 mix IFV, medium choppers (for all branches), etc would high chance to be deferred until such time or a compromise is made thru leasing rather than outright buy for now (yes, yes critics will say it cost more but it comes from a different pocket and nobody in Parliamen is smart enough to do the maths and go ‘Hang on a sec…’, so yeah whatever)

  9. Not much has changed for us since the olden days of Malacca getting captured in 1511 by the Portuguese. We didn’t put much stress on the defense back then either. We’re doom.

    “The armed forces of the Malayos do not follow the ordered military tactics of Europe: they only make use of attacks and sallies in mass formation: their sole plan is to construct an ambush in the narrow paths and woods and thickets, and then make an attack with a body of armed men: whenever they draw themselves up for battle, they acquit themselves badly and usually suffer heavy losses… The arms which they ordinarily use in warfare are the sword, shield, lance, bows and arrows, and blow-pipes with poisoned darts. At the present day, in consequence of intercourse with us, they use muskets and ordnance. The sword, a blade measuring 5 palmo (110 cm) in length, is called pedang: like the Turkish sword, it has a single edge. The dagger, called Cris, is a blade measuring 2 palmo (44 cm) in length, and is made of fine steel; it bears a deadly poison; the sheath is of wood, the hilt is of animals’ horn or of rare stone… The lance called azagaya is 10 palmo in length (2.2 m): these lances are much used as missiles. There are other lances, as much as 25 palmo (5.5 m) long… Their artillery, as a rule, is not heavy; formerly they used mortars and swivel-guns made of various metals[Note 2]… Regarding the employment of artillery amongst the Malayos, we know that on the conquest of Malacca in the year 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque captured much small artillery, esmerils, falconets, and medium-sized sakers… The fortresses and fortifications of the Malayos were usually structures composed of earth and placed between plank uprights. We do find some buildings made of shaped stones joined together without mortar or pitch… In this simple style were built the principal fortresses and royal palaces… Usually, however, the natives use fortifications and enclosures and palisades made of big timber, of which there is a large quantity along the River Panagim on the same coast… So in olden times their fortresses, besides being made merely of earth, were built in a simple form, without the proper military points.”

    — ”Description of Malacca” by Godinho de Erédia, 1613.

  10. Hafiez – ”Not much has changed for us since the olden days of Malacca getting captured in 1511 by the Portuguese”

    A lot has changed actually. For one; unless there is a really good reason to; states can avoid physically occupying others; merely control access to the sea and choke points.

    Hafiez – ” We’re doom.”

    Do you now for certain when we’ll be in conflict; who with and in what circumstances? Do you know for certain it will b against a state actor who will want to physically land on our shores?

    If we’re really ”doomed” there must be a sound reason so please share with the rest of us.

  11. @Azlan

    What the Chief of Navy said yesterday sounded so ominous. You can’t be more direct than that about the state of our national defence.

  12. No one knows when a war will happen which is why being ready is important. No one knows for certain who the adversary will be because we can’t control what other people do. We can only control what we can do. Why bother attempting to find a perfect answer to who is the threat, when they will attack, etc. Its a doom loop of endless what ifs that gets no where. Either define a threat and justify the spending, or be perpetually ambiguous on why we need a strong military and get nothing because its back to why spend if no threat? So decide. We only control what we can. We can tell others when and how to attack. So we can only prepare.

  13. Kel – “Why bother attempting to find a perfect answer to who is the threat, when they will attack, etc”

    I’ll tell you why; because any military has to be structured and equipped to deal with specific threats. Even if one is China or Britain; one can’t have a one size fits all solution.

    Kel – “So we can only prepare”

    Ok but in our context “prepare”for what exactly? Against whom and under what operational circumstances? Against China and country with far more resources and which even the likes of the U.S.and Japan are worried? We actually have a chance with “asymmetric” tactics?

    Great to state the obvious about what ecshoild do but note that unlike certain neighboring countries; we don’t have a specific threat we can focus our resources on. A long standing policy is to have a certain level of deterrence to deal with threats we identify as the most likely and those threats don’t include prolonged high intensity state on state threats. BTW I’m stating policy; not my personal preference or view.

    Hasnan – “. You can’t be more direct than that about the state of our national defence”

    And? The point you’re trying to make?

    I’m pretty aware of the state of our military but thank you …

  14. @kel
    Our very real threat right now is not so much from any military force but from economic pressures with global recession predicted, a disinterested & disenfranchised & disunited rakyat, balancing the politicosphere in a chaotic world, and traitors within our own that had allowed certain parties to take us into a legal quagmire that could cost billions.

  15. Azlan, I’m going to be honest. By you logic, then really, Malaysia doesn’t need an armed forces. Too big, we can’t fight, therefore why spend? Similarly, why is Ukraine resisting Russia? Russia is so big, Ukraine shouldn’t even attempt to prepare after Donetsk and Crimea. They should just do bare minimum and hope Russia won’t attack. Similarly, by your logic, Japan, Korea and Taiwan should just say China is too difficult to fight let’s just spend minimally and hope China doesn’t attack.

    Or, we should only concentrate on insurgency type warfare against non-state actors (i.e. the pre-1990 mindset) therefore just spent minimally. I know this is the mindset of the 4th and 7th PM. Also threat is up to a country or a person to define. And you seem to agree that I’ve stated the obvious that China is indeed a threat. I can’t predict when China will attack because I’m not China and I don’t control what they do. I do know they are a threat because of their nine-dash line and their aggression against Vietnam and Philippines. I also know they are building up their armed forces at such a great pace that it is a matter of time before they fully enforce the 9 dash line and shut us out of our EEZ. This will happen sooner unless other claimants build up their collective armed forces. If the Ministry of Finance asks why should the government buy 7 LMS instead of 3, what is the answer? Peace-time constabulary or we have a big threat at our doorstep that has been encroaching our EEZ and threatening our oil and gas vessels? I also see non-aligned (militarily) as a dead concept in today’s world because of the 2 powers, 1 actually has the intention of hurting Malaysia militarily. Its obvious that great power has been spending years attempting to hurt Malaysia’s National Power in all the DIME domains.

    So either define a threat and spend to counter the threat, or be like the 4th and the 7th PM and dismiss Military as not essential to building National Power.

    I’ve already stated the context. The threat in the next 30 years will be maritime in nature. If not SCS then Indian Ocean. It will come from the seas. I will even say it is likely it will be China. Unlike the land wars you like to use as examples, I see the Falklands as a more appropriate reference. I see long range firepower, able to see and strike deep into SCS as the better investment – the better ROI. I see Navy ships and Heavy (twin-engine) fighters as the main fighting force. I see mobility as essential given the the country is separated into two land mass. Land assets needs to be shifted between East and West Malaysia in a reasonable time frame – because assets need to be reinforced during a conflict. I see land based assets as supporting the Navy and AirForce because the goal is to deter the adversary from landing a much larger and heavier armed ground force, or delay them long enough for allies to come to our aid. I do not believe anyone has advocated counter offensive our way to Beijing.

    Once again, happy to hear your version of “context”.

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