KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — The Defence White Paper (DWP) tabled today in the Dewan Rakyat outlined two roles, primary and secondary, of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF).
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, who tabled the DWP after the oral Question and Answer (Q&A) session, said with the DWP, the MAF will play a key role in protecting the country’s interests and defending its sovereignty.
In addition, he said, MAF will also play a role in maintaining the security of the territory against all threats through the implementation of maritime, air, land and cyber-electromagnetic operations.
“The secondary role is to carry out military operations other than war (MOOTW), assisting civil authorities in enforcement and support of international peace efforts under the United Nations (UN) banner,” he said.
The DWP that was tabled for the first time is an open document accessible to the people, while the previous National Defence Policy (DPN) was a classified document. It will also set the direction of the national defence strategy for the period 2021 until 2030 to protect the country’s interests and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In this regard, Mohamad said the structure and presentation of the MAF needed to be revamped to address the ever-changing security environment.
Although the MAF’s strength is maintained at its current size for the period of the DWP, Mohamad is confident that re-alignment and prioritisation will be carried out in tune with future needs.
“Specific emphasis will be given to intensify the combined capabilities as well as to realise the need to conduct operations in two territories which are Peninsular Malaysia, and Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
He explained that an important element in the future development of MAF would be the long-term investment aimed at enhancing MAF’s preparedness through the provision of required assets and equipment, knowledge-based manpower and skills to produce a smart army.
He said the government aimed to develop MAF as an integrated, agile and focused force in five key areas namely togetherness, operability, technology-based, ability to operate simultaneously in two territories, and mission-oriented.
At the same time, the government will ensure that the allowances, incentives and other benefits of MAF members such as health and housing are always reviewed.
The MAF veterans group was also mentioned in the DWP which outlined the government’s main focus on improving their socio-economic status through enhancing their marketability as an opportunity for a second career, as well as other social needs such as health and related assistance such as cost of life, schooling and others.
Meanwhile, Mohamad said in line with the Malaysia New Foreign Policy Framework, the DWP rejects the use of force in resolving all conflicts but preferred a peaceful approach.
“The government is committed to this by applying the defensive posture of ‘Cegah Rintang Berpadu'”, he said.
He added that the DWP with the theme “A safe, sovereign and prosperous Malaysia” has also introduced a new approach based on science, technology and the national defence industry by making it the catalyst for the defence eco-system and the growth of the national economy.
He said after the DWP is tabled, the National Defence Industry Policy will be drawn up as a guideline for the development of the sector.
“The National Defence Industry Policy will contain five core areas, namely Human Resource Development; Technological Development; Industrial Development; Towards Self-Sufficiency; and Penetrating the Global Market,” he said.
Describing the DWP as fulfilling the nation’s vision to remain a safe, sovereign and prosperous country, Mohamad said the vision can be achieved by positioning the country as a maritime nation and maximising its potential as a gateway connecting the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions.
Following cross-border non-traditional threats which could potentially jeopardise national interests, Mohamad said Malaysia needs to protect its interests through pro-active long-term strategic pioneering.
He said the strategy involved defence as the main components as well as supporting joint prosperity, joint security, and a joint identity at the national and regional levels.
Mohamad also said Malaysia will create a balanced strategic eco-system through collaborations and creating more policy options by playing its role as the connecting gateway between the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
To strengthen the defence strategy, he said the National Defence Framework has been developed containing the nation defence vision, priorities and objectives.
At the same time, he said, in the national security assurance aspect, he said three integrated layered areas must be defended at all times, comprising core areas, extended areas and forward areas.
He said to monitor the implementation of the DWP and ensure the best governance, three special committees will be set up, involving the Defence Investment Committee which will be chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; Policy Committee chaired by Mohamad; and the Reformation and Implementation Committee which will be chaired by Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Mohd Ali and and Armed Forces Chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin.