MENDING THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF MINDEF/MAF
Of late, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) has been added to the list of ministries and agencies that are subjected to critical criticisms by the general public. The purchase of the Scorpene submarines and the lost of the jet engines are just two out of the long list of issues that are currently discussed and criticised in the medias, notably the websites (internet), which acts as a platform for free, un-censored and sometimes biased reporting. Little or unconvincing response by appropriate authorities in Mindef/MAF , unfortunately help to slowly but surely undermine the public that what have been reported are the truth.
To what extent have these criticisms affect the image of Mindef/MAF and the morale and spirit of the personnel. And what about the perceptions of the general public towards Mindef/MAF. Has it changed?
I feel that credit should be accorded where it is due. In retrospect, Mindef and MAF have done fairly well in discharging their duties both at home and abroad. For almost 50 years, MAF fought tirelessly in a protracted war against the CPM in Peninsular Malaysia and the North Kalimantan Communist Party in Sarawak until both the communist parties laid their arms and surrendered en masse in the late 1980s. Almost concurrently, in the early 1960s when the MAF was still at its infancy stage, it has to bear the brunt of encountering the Tentera Nasional Indonesia when the late President Sukarno launched his confrontation campaign against the formation of Malaysia. The MAF played a prominent role in denying entry and regulating the influx of thousands of illegal immigrants from Vietnam into Malaysia, when the Indo China war broke out in the 1970s. A special task force , the TF VII was formed to oversee this problem.
MAF’s first international foray under the United Nations was in the Congo Republic in the mid 1960s. This leads to many more MAF participation in peace keeping missions abroad. At the moment, the MAF still send its contingents at some trouble spots overseas. The continuing request by the United Nations for MAF to send its troops for peace keeping missions is an endorsement and recognition of our credible achievements which to say the least is at par with troops from developed countries.
The MAF performs equally well in discharging its secondary role of supporting the government. When the late Tun Abdul Razak introduced the Internal Development and Defence (KESBAN) strategy to win over the rakyat during the emergency period, the MAF conducted a two-pronged operation of combating the communist insurgencies and carrying out jiwa murni projects as part of its psychological operations campaign to win their heart and mind. There are also cases when the soldiers were put to the fore front to carry out tasks which the civilian agencies are not able to handle. One case in point is the handling of the endemic nipah virus case in which soldiers were tasked to assist civil authorities in combatting the disease.
I believe that the most trying and tested moment for the MAF was the 13 May 1969 incident and the period following that. There are two lessons learnt from that. First, the MAF’s control of the situation was very professional . There was no racial sentiments, discrimination or impartiality attached to the soldiers when carrying out their duties. All, regardless of races, are treated fairly and equally. What I want to imply is that, should there be any public order situation in the future, the public are rest assured that the soldiers will not turn to the public and make them as their targets. This is very much unlike the situation in some neighbouring countries. Second, some political observers commented that the military had the golden opportunity of wresting power when the Perikatan (Alliance) government handed over power to Majlis Gerakan Negara (Mageran) soon after the incident. The MAF never did. It remains loyal and subservient to the government. What we can make out of this is that there is no possibility of the MAF to carry out a coup d’etat .
Malaysia is not at war with any country. But as an instrument of politics the MAF is ready to go to war only after negotiations have failed . In order to avoid war and maintain peaceful co-existence among neighbouring countries, military diplomacy has to be applied. Towards this end, the application of military diplomacy by our top military leadership has avoided crisis with our neighbours especially after taking into consideration the numerous bilateral issues which have not been resolved. Currently, many military activities at ASEAN and regional level are taking place as a continuous effort towards confidence building measures.
I am not emotional when highlighting the success story of the MAF. On the contrary, I attempt to protect it and give credit where it is due. I do not dispute the rights of tax payers, as stake holders, to know from all possible sources of information, what takes place and how their money are spent. However, as the information disseminated are related to defence issues one should consider the risk of compromising our national security and national interest. True, we no longer live in the volatile security environment of the past millennium, but additional information gained may enhance one (foreign) nation’s power (against us).
I salute those who throw their thoughts and observations for the love of the MAF. But there are proper channels in which we can convey our grievances and disappointments.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
MENDING THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF MINDEF/MAF
Posted by ben sungib at 7:25 AM
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Bestmanword blog intend to join bloggers community with intention to voice unbiased opinion on issues of national and defence related issues.
Although "opinion is free enterprise" and agree that comments posted regarding national and defence related issues are of public interest, Bestmanword feels that one should consider the risk when indulging and discussing matters which have bearing towards national security and national interest. The onus is on respected bloggers to weigh the relevancy, accuracy and above all, the sensitivity of issues discussed.
Keeping abreast with current developments in the country, Bestmanword will always remain apolitical, a virtue inculcated since enlisted in military service 38 years ago. Bestmanword holds no political affiliation nor owes any favour to any political party or institution. Bestmanword would attempt to be as objective as possible when discussing with other bloggers/followers.
In conclusion, Bestmanword blog invite bloggers/followers for comments, sharing ideas or opinion. Salam 1Malaysia!
Posted by ben sungib at 7:53 PM