Nation’s defence SE Asia’s weakest

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By BERNAMA

Malaysia’s defence capabilities is the poorest in the South-East Asia region, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu (picture).

According to Mohamad, Malaysia lags behind in terms of its defence assets compared to the other countries in South-East Asia, such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

“In terms military defence, we are at the bottom, unlike during the 1970s. We need to do something in order to address this situation,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The defence minister’s press secretary Amin Iskandar said this, however, does not mean that Malaysia’s military is weaker than other countries in the region.

“The Malaysian Armed Forces is ready and prepared to defend the country’s sovereignty from any threat and invasion,” Amin said in a statement.

However, there is a need for the Armed Forces to strengthen its military assets, so they remain abreast with the latest technology, he said.

In terms of defence, Mohamad is determined to “making Malaysia great again”.

According to Mohamad, the previous government’s poor administration in handling the defence allocations made it difficult for the ministry to carry out projects and the necessary maintenance.

“The Royal Malaysian Air Force had requested for RM1.8 billion, but only 62% or RM1.1 billion was approved for the maintenance of the Sukhoi jets.

“All of these assets are old, thus a lot of allocation is needed to restore them,” Mohamad said.

He added that he wants to solve the issue at hand rather than play the blame game.

Mohamad hopes the ministry will work to fix all weaknesses and avoid repeating past mistakes.

On the government’s immediate plans to upgrade the country’s air defence capabilities, Mohamad said the ministry is looking at maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

“We know for a fact that the UAV is more competitive in terms of prices compared to the MSA. However, when combined, these assets would be useful for patrolling the South China Sea, as well as the Melaka Straits.

“We are assessing these two options to strengthen our assets so that they are on par with those of other nations,” he said.