Defence White Paper to outline national security agenda

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by BERNAMA

THE government is preparing a Defence White Paper that will act as a blueprint for a national policy on defence and security over the next 10 years.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu (picture) said the White Paper, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament in July, aims to strengthen the nation’s defence and formulate directions and strategic priorities for the country’s security.

“This is only the preliminary stage. We will continue to have similar dialogues at different levels and town hall sessions to gather more input from various stakeholders,” he told reporters after chairing a high-level meeting on the blueprint in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mohamad said the document will provide a 10-year plan, highlighting the needs of the ministry and informing the public of their civil duties and responsibilities toward the country’s overall defence.

“If we find that the document becomes irrelevant in two years, for example, we will make the necessary adjustments. The whole idea of the document is for us to better gauge the ministry’s spending and the equipment that we require.

“We don’t want to spend just because there is money to spend. We have to be strategic in terms of what is needed,” he said.

The first roundtable on the Defence White Paper yesterday was attended by several Cabinet ministers including Home Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali,

Communications and Multimedia Deputy Defence Minister Senator Minister Gobind Singh Deo and Liew Chin Tong. Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar, Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun were also in attendance.

Among the key issues that were discussed during the session included cyber security, fake news and terrorist threats. The threehour meeting concluded with a joint statement acknowledging the Defence White Paper as a public document that will provide insight into the role of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in safeguarding the nation’s interest.

Mohamad said more meetings will be held in the next few months before the White Paper is tabled to the Cabinet and the Dewan Rakyat.

Mindef first announced its intent to produce the White Paper in August last year as a measure to inform the public on its priorities and future plans to bolster security. Its preparation is the first for Malaysia although the commissioning of the document is common practice in many democratic nations. Mohamad said the White Paper will not include any malpractice carried out by the previous government.

“There is an internal committee that is looking into it (malpractice). If we find any elements of corruption in the ministry, we will inform the Malaysian AntiCorruption Commission.

“We do not want to play the blame game. The White Paper will only stress on how we can move forward in providing a better national defence policy in the future,” he said.

Mohamad said all information will be vetted by the CDF to ensure that sensitive military information are not included in the public document.

“We are not going to disclose information on the kind of bullets we use. The CDF will determine what can be included and what will not be included,” he said.

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