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Review role of Armed Forces: Harris
Published on: Monday, July 01, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh (pic) called on Members of Parliament to move a motion to review the role of the Malaysian Armed Forces so that the billions now being spent could be saved to rehabilitate the nation’s economy that had taken a severe beating through numerous scandals like the 1MDB, among others.

He said this can be easily achieved by using only the required number and assets to protect the nation’s borders while redirecting the rest to assist the Government uplift and stabilise the rural village economy.

For instance, he said much valuable foreign exchange can be saved by using them as security guards instead of the 300,000 foreigners currently and making companies or individuals employing them pay directly to the Ministry.

Where the nation’s security is concerned, he said, Malaysia only needs to maintain her armed forces for surveillance planes such as CH type and more patrol boats for Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia. He said all that is needed is to build a road along the border with Thailand for security patrol purposes.

He also suggested that the two French-built Scorpene submarines stationed at Sepanggar Bay in Sabah be given away or sold to interested nations like Indonesia since they are just parked there and not taken out at all even for demonstration purposes while taxpayers have to fork out around RM1 billion yearly to maintain the 24 French personnel and submarines.

He also suggested that the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) be abolished.

Harris said RMAF’s present assets are rapidly turning into scrap iron with no less than the Defence Minister himself disclosing recently that only two of the 48 fighter jets are actually in working condition.

Harris said the time is ripe for countries like Malaysia to stop buying armaments and concentrate, instead, on economic development. 

“These countries can just maintain small security forces for keeping peace and order,” he said, adding that most Malaysians would also agree with the truth in Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement recently that Malaysia is not going to war under whatever circumstances.

Dr Mahathir had said at the recent International conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo that if any country wants to invade Malaysia they would just have to walk in.

Harris also noted that Dr Mahathir is the second Prime Minister to make such a comment after first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman who stood up, raised his hands and said ‘surrender’ when asked in Parliament in 1965 on what he would do if attacked by China.

Harris said he is calling for the demilitarisation of the Malaysian Armed Forces in view of Dr Mahathir’s rationale. 

“Since Malaysia is not going to war under whatever circumstances, the Armed Forces might as well make themselves useful to the society by contributing such services which would save the country’s billions of ringgit”.

Harris noted that only a few weeks before Dr Mahathir’s statement, it was reported that the Royal Malaysian Air Force had been allocated RM36 billion for the purchase of planes, helicopters and other assets. 

He argued that based on the Prime Minister’s statement, the Federal Government should just cancel and divert the Armed Forces’ allocation for rural economic development, while at the same time demilitarise the Armed Forces and get them re-focused on Civil Action Programmes. 

He said a platoon of army personnel can be assigned to work in a “kampong” to carry out the following tasks:

Improvement of the village’s livelihood systems;

Rearrange and improve houses and other facilities;

Build minor roads;

Women Armed Forces Personnel can help clean up houses and conduct courses for housewives to improve standards of hygiene and enhance their living comfort.

Establish sustainable economic crops.

He pointed out that the Government can learn from the success of the Civil Action Programmes carried out by the Berjaya Government together with the Armed Forces in the 1980s at Kota Marudu and Ranau.

Harris also suggested that foreign security guards in the country be gradually replaced by assigning the Army and Police Personnel between the ages of 45 and 55 years to do the job.

He noted that presently Malaysia employs more than 300,000 foreigners as security guards.

“This will prevent the retired Army or Police Personnel to “balik kampung” (return to their villages) after retirement.

“With this arrangement the assigned personnel are still bound by their services discipline with the Armed Forces or Police. This replacement exercise will gradually create 300,000 employment opportunities and at the same time replace foreign security guards.” 

While the Armed Forces are used for such work, Harris said the security of the country can be looked after by the following agencies:

• The Police including the Marine Police.

• The navy which should be merged with the Marine Police.

• The RMAF, but only tasked to operate and maintain the 4 CH 130 (Hercules) planes for surveillance purposes.

“In any case, no country, with the exception of the United States of America, want war because they are all working very hard to improve the livelihood of their own people. Out of 184 countries, there are only around 20 that are wealthy and fully developed. The balance are in various stages of achieving the standard of living of developed countries. Many also face extreme poverty, poor health care and many other problems.

“Our rural communities have not changed much, despite Federal Government programmes over the last 50 years to uplift their standards of living. This is due to poor implementation with action programmes being done half-heartedly. More importantly, unreasonable ceilings placed on the prices of their agricultural and fisheries products are major disincentives for mobilising the rural economy.

“It is worth mentioning here that developing countries, particularly in the Middle East, must have spent more than US$5 trillion yearly on armaments, mainly for fighting and killing each other, only to enrich the arms suppliers who are mostly Americans.” 

Hence, the time is ripe for these countries, including Malaysia, to stop buying armaments and concentrate on economic development. These countries can just maintain small security forces to maintain peace and order, Harris said.

The demilitarisation of the Armed Forces and in particular reducing its assets to a minimum will save Malaysia a lot of money.

He pointed out that Parliament can further adopt resolutions to: (i) Redirect the allocation of RM36 billion for Rural Economy Development, and (ii) the Armed Forces to be redeployed to the rural areas for Civil Action Programmes. 

The Ministry of Defence can be renamed as the “Ministry of Defence and Civil Action, he said.

 



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