The Armed Forces and Demos

PETALING JAYA: I know this will be a contentious issue. I am always wary of dragging politics into military and defence discussions.

However, as the Armed Forces, most probably the Army will be dragged into this, it is also inevitable that somehow we need to discuss the issue. The issue is of course the planned demonstration on July 9.

The new Armed Forces chief had already stated that it was prepared to help the police.

For me the military should be used in the last resort as in what had happened back in 1969. While I understand that the good general was probably asked to comment on the issue at a press conference, a more diplomatic answer was “no comment”.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2205 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. agree with marhalim, furthermore lately malaysia police have drastically increase their man power.
    addition to that, PGA is there to help FRU. army should only show up after police fail to do their job.

    Does MP have stocks of tear gas??
    Does MP have water cannon trucks??
    will army help police with M4 on their shoulder?
    and with sibmas or condor with heavy gun??

    pls dont let army reputation become like police …..

  2. we still have PDRM to control the demonstration. ATM intervention only will tarnish ATM image in the eyes of the world.
    Fully confident with PDRM to handle the protesters..

  3. If I am the PAT, I would do everything in my power to make sure those rascal shut their mouth forever by any mean including send my commando to their house because they are a big threat to our nation! Anyway, I believe our beloved BN govt will do their best to protect the right’s of every Malaysians from those rascal out there that are very dirty and insane! Those rascal should think 1st before doing something stupid! (oh sorry, they are actually ****** stupid!)

    The PAT will not and should not do that as it is against the law

  4. Have no fear brother! they are out of touch!
    If the military do not want to be hated by the rakyat, my advice just stay away and be above politics.
    We know they, the military generals are gearing up for POPO but rest assure they will face the unstoppable human tide out there unless they are willing to be confrontational.
    It is just BERSIH and the 8 points demand.
    The right thing for the PAT is to warn the government of the consequences and tell the police to protect the peaceful gathering of the rakyat. Rather conspiring against the rakyat.
    Allowable under article 10 of the Perlembagaan Malaysia mah!.
    The soldiers will have to face their own kind or some of their family members on the street.
    So jangan menggelabah new PAT! if you are not sure just shut up! You are not a hero! and don’t be one! hahaha I will be there… insya’ALLAH.

  5. Owh don’t worry the army wont have anything to do with the demo just as the actual intention of the demo which i suspect (but i guess we all know it already) is not really about calls for clean election.

  6. Our ARMY are not a political tool. Don’t they get it that this is not Thailand? They are to protect the country, not some political party…The new PAT should try to be neutral and quiet in this matter to avoid some paper misusing his words for threats and inflammatory news material.

  7. Yes its very clear and legally, the armed forces of malaysia is above politics.

    It is non-partisan and will have to su[pport and protect the legally elected government of the day-No matter what colour the party flags of the government is.

    Thats right, we all took the oath of loyalty to protect the YDPA and the legally elected government of the day-yes even if the opposition of today gets elected in the next election, the armed forces has already pledged to protect that government.

    Moreover, POPO must be declared for the army to be called up and not as the PAT wishes he can mobilise the army for such matters.

    I would suggest that the PAT learn public relations and also get his law brushed up as he needs to know more about such matters. It is inconceivable that the armed forces be political now .

    As it was, the armed forces has been briefed down to the lowest level that it is a apolitical organisation.
    When the army is called up it is a case of the standard box formation, a magistrate and a police officer will be within the box.
    No water cannon here. The box will be equipped with tear gas canisters and the standard launcher.

    The front row of the box is armed with high velocity rifles and one mat sabun will be armed with a shot gun. The orders can be to march and establish a line for which there must be no crossing or to do a charge to do snatches.

    The last resort would be the order to fire and kill the leaders. but then high velocity bullets dont kill one person only . A 5.56 bullet can pass through 4 bodies while a 7.62 can pass through 10.
    Imagine the collateral damages?
    So PAT, please stay out.
    Its not your fight and due to the pledge you had taken when you joined up, you must remain apolitical, protect the YDPA and the legally elected government no matter they are pembangkang or Umno led
    Keep your pledge!

  8. What sets us apart from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, is that the MAF has always stayed away from politics – this is something we inherited from our colonial over lords.

    Unfortunately, though it’s a different subject all together, we have a military leadership who lacks spine/backbone, and rather than standing up for the interests of those under them, acts like trained circus seals.

    From what I understand, if a particular situation were to get out of hand, the IGP would have to inform the Home Minister. It would then be up to the PM to declare a state of emergency and decided on whether or not to send the army to the streets. As the PDRM has been rapidly expanded [which resulted in a shorter training cycle for recruits, leading to a drop in manpower quality] and has a nice budget to buy new toys and gadgets, it should bloody well be able to deal with any demonstration that gets out of hand!!

    P.S. The PAT reminds me of an over stuffed teddy bear…..

  9. Under our Public Order Ordinance, the PDRM may request the MAF to assist them in the restoration and maintainance of public order and security if the situation becomes untenable.Under such request the CDF could deploy troops close to the scene of action even before the outbreak of disorder.The CDF has no power to refuse such request as the MAF is also responsible for national security.

    The MAF will employ different tactics and procedures as they are not trained for close contacts engagements with the protestors which is really the job of the Anti-Riot Police unit.

  10. The general’s statement was merely a form of assurance that they are are ready to preserve public order when the need arise. It’s not his full authority to simply put his boys into action, so stop menggelabah please.

    Oh btw Azlan, please have a respect to the PAT. At least, he’s a real general and you might be just another military enthusiast.

  11. In the recent past ,MAF and PDRM had some joints trainings in keeping public order. The PAT said they are ready to help PDRM.

    It was taken as a threat to the opposition parties who were active in organizing demos all over the place and looked like it was to get bigger.
    He retreated in his comments later.

    Our way of life here is that the military is never involved.Its the civilian government and thru PDRM that maintains the peace,the military may provide material support , specialist support or border support. During the emergency and 1969 they were called out but the government and PDRM were in charge. Do not ever change that.

    We are different from our neigbours(bar spore) ,thats why we are developed the way we are.
    The government is over reacting to this rally,making it worse,making more people take notice and creating such a response . Why so stupid? do they know something ?

    this charges about reviving komunis party, wheres the proof? If ur going to make serious charges like that ,do it properly ,steadily ,show the proof otherwise the cynical public will not beleive u and will vote against BN.

    This rubbish needs to stop. too much tension caused by idiotic politicans ,hungry to be powerful and rich. And PDRM has lost so much intelligient officers who know how to do thier jobs properly. Just adding numbers ,does not mean a thing if they are incapable and imcompetent.

    For God sake MAF ,shut up and stay out.

  12. I agree with Hishammuddin that the organizers have a hidden agenda.Why organize a rally at the expense of public order just to deliver the 8 point agenda to the King? Why no rally by them when the Indonesians throw shit and burn our flags at our Embassy in Jakarta?So tell me do you think they really care for Malaysia?

  13. either bersih have hidden agenda or not is not a question here…..
    its about either army should show up during demos or stay back.
    if the army only send semboyan or risik unit to help police, it is still acceptable, but not any front line unit unless emergency state declared

  14. Loreng,

    Every one in the game has a hidden agenda.
    During a visit to Jakarta some time ago, Anwar told Indonesia MPs that if he were PM, Malaysia/Indonesian problems could be solved in a week……


    You have no idea who I am and vice versa, I do not know who you are, so lets keep it at that. Sorry if I don’t join you in putting our leadership on a pedestal, I’m not in the ‘bodek’ game. Or are you one of those under the delusion that we should not challenge authority as our ”leaders”always know best? Will the PAT stand up for the MAF, will he ensure his political masters keep the MAF well funded and actually put their money where their mouth is – let’s wait and see and hope for the best. BTW, its ”have respect” not ”have a respect” and who is ”menggelabah’???? We are simply having a discussion, that is what the purpose of this blog is for………

  15. The responsibility of the MAF in public order (domestic chaos) is clearly spelt out in the Public Order Ordinance (an act passed by Parliament).Every military commander including the PAT has to obey the Ordinance which give them the power to deploy troops to disperse unruly assembly, arrest ring leaders, erect road-blocks,arrest looters, conduct mobile and roof-top patrol, detain trouble-makers, maintain essential services (food, water, electricity, transportation and communication).We have to be thankful to our past leaders for giving the MAF the necessary power to do their job in civil disturbances environment.

    Yes we understand the role of MAF also involved domestic responsibility. But for ATM to do it, the Government must first declare an emergency. To say we are to ready to intervene, its like putting the cart before the horse. There is no need for the ATM to say so its ready bla, bla, bla since under the law they have to be ready 24/7, 365 days.

  16. Marhalim,

    There is no need to declare an Emergency for the MAF to be involved in Public Order operations.Under the Public Order Ordinance, the CDF can deploy troops the moment he receives a request for military assistance from the IGP.

    Yes, but the IGP needs the order from the Minister first (1958 Act), or under the 1969 Emergency declaration (which had never been repealed, so in a sense you might be correct) made by the Agong. So under the 1958 Act, a situation must arise for the Minister (ie the Government) to make the order to the IGP first. If only the IGP felt he does not have the means to restore order, only then the Armed Forces can be roped in

  17. Azlan,

    Anwar Ibrahim has some positive values but sad to say his negative values swamp his good values.

    Now, that statement about him being be able to solve all our problems with the Indonesian.Just careless talk.Obviously he lacks proper understanding of international relations.Our differences are rooted in social-cultural, political and economic issues with vast national interests at stake.As a national leader is he willing to forgo our national interest just he thinks that he is popular with them? If he does, then obviously he is not fit to be our leader.

  18. nice fact marhalim… so i can retire from legal dept

    I am not a lawyer so if you think I am wrong, feel free to correct me…

  19. Wow! not bad your understanding of the law in relation to the role of MAF. Gua caya lu la brother.
    Anyway, if the CDF is so silly he will follow what the police want him to do but if he is a military leader, a true soldier and befit the four stars on his shoulder then he will rubbish the IGP but protect the people.
    Be around as the code of conduct is BERSIH.

  20. loreng,

    Agree with you. There is nothing in the world anwar wont promise you as long as it bring tons of votes for him to take over putrajaya. He can solve our problem with indons, lowering petrol prices (without incurring huge debts in the process)bla..bla…bla. The rakyat of course..desperate in the wake of endless price increases and other issues, wanted to believe so badly that they put logic and rationale behind. They even think that price increase aka inflation that is happening world wide is exclusively a malaysia problem.

    I mean just look at the way he brushed aside journalists who ask him questions he didnt like during press conference…even if its a valid one. Hardly a gentleman wont you say. That is a dictator in the making. Is that the man you all wanted to be our leader? If this nation needs a change in the leadership, he is certainly not it.

    He is a politician, he will make promises. But at the same time, he also has the right to say No Comment

  21. Eagle,

    The MAF is a national institution subject to the constitution and national laws.The CDF discharges his reponsibilities in accordance with the laws passed by Parliament.Malaysia is not a lawless country where the Armed Forces does things on their own acting against national interest.The Public Order Ordinance protects the MAF in the discharge of their responsibility when requested by the Police.The CDF then takes steps to implement the military plan.It is his national obligation to assist the Police.

  22. we must understand the reason behind Bersih Rally been organized.Its all about politic factor and attempt to tarnish malaysia image worldwide.ATM intervention is what they want since all international media already spotlight Bersih demonstration this coming saturday and any attempt by ATM to get involved will be label by international media & body as undemocratic and breach of human right. This is Bersih organizer major goals to achieve as long as Malaysia image can be destroy worldwide since current PM have been able to restored back international confidence to Malaysia and shift public spotlight from court case involving super opposition figure to Bersih demo and ATM please dont eat Bersih 2.0 organizer bait and just lets PDRM completed their job this saturday.

  23. zamyra is right, army intervention is the last thing to happen ….. during crisis in 97, Dr m also do not call for army assist directly where the public can see even though it is much serious and tougher than current bersih.

    *Really hope the discussion in this topic be around ATM intervention without any personal political stand.

    Thats why I said its a contentious issue….

  24. Loreng!
    Will you stop teaching people!
    Alahai! loreng berapa tahun dalam tentera?
    I think you don’t even understand what is national interest.
    Way to go! you think the people of this nation have no national obligation?
    No wonder….!

  25. I once heard the military’s purpose (in general) described as “to kill people and break things”. Internal security matters are the concern of the police and other security forces, not the army. While there are extraordinary circumstances in which it is necessary to call upon the assistance of the army in internal security matters (such as during the communist insurgency), the bar for intervention is rightly set VERY high. Irregardless of their politics (whether they support BN, PR or even the PAP!), solders are professionals. And as professionals they must perform their duties first and foremost for Malaysia. They must put the nation above themselves. It is not in the interest of Malaysia for the army to play a role in quelling the current internal political struggle. It will lose credibility and its duty to ensure the safety and security of the nation will suffer.

  26. As it’s getting a bit frustrating and tiresome discussing politics, the Bersih rally, etc, perhaps we could get back to more interesting stuff.

    In the Milnuts forum, Weasel posted the following info that is supposedly part of the F/A-18D upgrade, on top of the ATFLIR contract to replace the Nitehawk. Heard anything more on the upgrade Marhalim?

    APX-111 Combined Interrogator/Transponder. Compatible with IFF mode 1,2, 3/A, C, 4 and S with future 5. For transponder mode can do 1,2,3/A, C(altitude) and secure 4. Uses Mode S beacon system that has a combined datalink and secondary surveillance radar (SSR) system that provides air surveillance incl air-ground data link and better selective interrogation.

    Joint mission planning system (JMPS) with UPC (unique planning component) + GPS. Allows unit-level mission planning for all phases of flight ops + downloading of mission data to e-data transfer devices to a/c & weapons. Covers JMPE mated with a UPC that is required for specific weapons, comms devices & moving map display.

    Tactical aircraft moving map capability (TAMMAC) with terrain awareness warning system (TAWS). Can show aircraft position + targets, threats, terrain features, planned mission flight path, no fly zones, safe bases and other objects with contour line, slope shading, dynamic elevation banding, threat inter-visibility, fultural features, variable scaling and overlays. TAMMAC also allows display of fire support coordination measures, vertical obstructions and digital aeronautical flight information file (DAFIF) info. Looks like good sit awareness.

    AN/ALR-67(V)2 hot quad receiver + software updates. The RWR has 4 spiral high band antennas which provide 360 RF coverage, 4 wideband + high band quandrant receiver amplifiers, 1 low band array + receiver for 360 low band coverage as well. 1 super heterodyne receiver for signal analysis, 2 CPU, 1 ADU + 1 control unit. Hot quad = new amplifier with higher gain + lower noise to improve pulse + CW emitter detection range.

    – ATFLIR to be housed on the left fuselage is a gen 3 system combining 640×480 staring focal plane array operating in 3-5 micrometer band with EO sensor uses a CCD focal plan array in 0.5-0.9 micrometer range (previous gen in 2 pods rather than 1).

  27. Yes, agreed the Army should not be used to resolve internal political trouble.If unconventional means is used to create chaos, threatening life and property, then the rakyat expects the government to do everything possible to maintain law and order.The rakyat just want peace, as disorder will put our family life in jeopardy.

    Now, political parties aspiring to be in power must do it through the ballot box.They have to convince the rakyat they have clean politicians with vision to formulate superior policies that could move the country forward.The rakyat want to listen to their ideas on matters close to their heart: improving the economy, solving the rising cost of living, improving education standards for global competition, creating better employment opportunities for our youth, improving national unity and of course strengthening security, both domestic and external.

    Take for example defence.Not have heard anything from PKR leaders how they want to go about organizing our defence.It is amazing if you want to be in power and yet nothing to show to the rakyat how you could do it better than the government in power.This reflects badly on PKR as it shows that they are not a forward-looking political party.

    So please engage the rakyat with your vision and ideas rather than taking the streets which could cause a lot of hardship to the rakyat.You will not win any supporter if you do things that cause further hardship to the rakyat.

  28. Loreng,
    Dfence matters are so hush hush that even the parliament is not informed how certain decision are made and what euqipment the armed forces really has.So without facts there will be no meaningful discussions.Just like us many of our discussions are also theoretical because non of us apart from serving personnel really does not have the total details. Even at exhibitions, they would only want us to see what they want us to see and not show us all that they have.
    So there can be no meaningful discussions regarding defence matters be they opposition or even the ruling BN MP’s.This topic is held very very close to the heart of just a few.

  29. YM Lee,

    We are not expecting the government to openly discuss hush-hush stuff in parliment. Nor are we expecting PKR to ask hush-hush stuff and expect an answer. Certain issues however which are pertinent yet are not ‘rahsia’, like how many fighter squadrons does MINDEF feel is adequate to provide coverage for the country, or if there are any immediate plans to fully equip the Kedah class, whether the Nuri upgrade plan will proceed as scheduled, etc, should be asked by PKR MPs….. If they don’t ask the right questions, who is going to?

  30. Ym Lee,

    The politicians should not be talking about military equipment and minor details!

    We need politicians that could articulate new ideas, such as on how they can do better in organizing the Ministry of Defence, undertaking reorganizational structure of the MAF to make it more relevant to the needs of our time, reorganizing the Procurement Process, reorganizing the Tender Board that would be more transparent and impartial, improving national mobilization etc.

    If you can organize national defence at 50% of the present budget and yet not sacrificing the level of readiness for military deterrence, man you will be in business!

  31. And the perception will not get any better. The Army and the police is holding a command post exercise at the police college in Cheras today (July 4, 2011). With the planned demo just four days away, many will questioned the decision to hold the exercise.

  32. Brother, they need to conduct the cpx or else they are out of touch.
    The issue is will the scenario setting of the cpx is to fight against the citizen with the opposition being the enemy? or what? Or will they foresee the unstoppable human tide that no military and the police can stop come what may.
    They need a better strategy. Or else the two organisations will looked like idiots when the politicians make a U turn. You bet who will be the fall guy?

    You and I know that one can stop a street demo if one want really wants to but at what price? As for the fall guy, its the reason I said that the Army should back away from this fight….

  33. There is no unstoppable human tide, at least not in a Malaysian context, that can’t be stopped by the PDRM. The socio-political environment in this country differs greatly from say Libya or other countries. Whilst the organisers of ‘Bersih’ have declared that the intent is to hold a peaceful rally unfortunately there might be elements from all sides of the political spectrum who aim to cause mischief for their own ends. What opposition supporters and those who support ‘Bersih’ have conveniently overlooked is that there is a sizeable amount of the population who is against the whole idea due to a variety of legitimate concerns.

  34. there was at least one unstoppable human tide in malaysia, demo to oppose malayan union before merdeka. and history have a bad habit, to repeat itself

  35. The cover of Utusan Malaysia today shows the RAMD units training alongside FRU’s unit to stop demo….with rifles and a dashing bulletproof armor. Do govt want to kill people using the ATM?

    They are better off with batons, shield and tear gas…

    Technically, once the Army units are called out, the police has no business doing on the same streets. Yes once the Army is called in they will be armed as if for war, thats why I said its not a good idea to drag the Armed Forces out in the open. Note that other newspapers did not carry the pictures…..

  36. Scorpio,

    The Malayan Union demonstrations involved one race and in terms of numbers paled in comparison with the numbers which were involved in the ‘Reformasi’ rallies and the projected number scheduled for ‘Bersih’. It wasn’t the numbers involved or a threat of demonstrations getting out of hand that led to the Colonial Office dropping the ‘Malayan Union’ idea, it was great political pressure brought to bear and the fact that the Sultans and Malay elite were very against the idea.

    In the age of Facebook and Twitter, an idea once gaining popularity can no longer be stopped.

  37. Dear All,
    Please kindly refer to my description of the ‘Box Formation’ to see what the ATM would be armed with, to quell demos and the tactics they would use against fellow citizens if they are called out.

  38. Marhalim,

    Agreed. Was just pointing out that the ‘Malayan Union’ issue differs greatly from the ‘Bersih’ issue. Even before the Facebook and Twitter age, SMS’s play a big part in mobilising support – the demonstrations that led to Estrada’s fall in Manila years ago.

  39. i also thought british gave up the MU idea bcoz of political pressure as u said, we all learned that in school but it is not …. at least from british point of view as stated in their oofficial document

  40. I think malaysia need a good business climate, which include good security condition. So for me demonstration like this is not good. But we must provide political paths for people who want to show his or her political ambitions, and manage it carefully.

  41. Scorpio,

    They did give it up due to strong political pressure from Malay nationalists and the elite, but not from the threat of mass demonstrations. The British fear was that pushing for the ‘Malayan Union’ concept would alienate the Malays and complicate or delay the talks that were held later for Merdeka.

  42. Azlan, you say that British abandoned MU because they do not want to jeopardise our chances of Merdeka? Is it not confusing. I thought the very reason why MU was pushed was because the Brits wanted to keep up longer. ie. does not want us to Merdeka. Ala Hong Kong.

  43. Interesting comment here by everyone. I’ve always wondered where to find such matters being discussed.

    I did think that too much was read into the PATs statement, though he himself should be weary of what that statement can be perceived as. At the end of the day, if such an Emergency was called, and the request was made, the Armed Forces would be obligated to respond. Of course, the PAT, in his capacity as an adviser and executor of military power to the Government, will need to give his views on whether its a good idea or not, but at the end of the day, if he is ordered to do so, the has to do so.

    Applying military force to solve domestic political issues is never the right solution, and is never as good as having a competent and professional police force, but there are times when its required. The thing is, our Armed Forces have had a proud history of not intervening in domestic affairs, nor of political interference, sometimes to the detriment of its own members. Remember the lean lean years of the 90s, post Peace Accords with the CPM? To see the squalor that some of our men in uniform live in daily because of improper infrastructure or adequate pay.

  44. well…i believe ATM was in action that day. maybe their not in the ATM uniform…but in the PDRM uniform i think.
    cause 98% the police i saw in that day…all of them are smart size body not like the police we saw at the road side. secondly, a lot of the anggota PDRM that day..YES! with PDRM uniform but without the name tag, platun tag etc. so, i will think…r they from ATM but wearing the PDRM uniform???

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