No further delays to Defence White Paper

Mohamad is scheduled to table the White Paper before the end of the current Parliament sitting in December

pic by TMR

DEFENCE Minister Mohamad Sabu (picture) has given his assurance that the much-awaited Defence White Paper will be tabled in the current Parliament sitting.

Mohamad denied allegations of any attempt to deliberately postpone the presentation of the document and insisted that he needed time to ensure all information is accurate.

“Be patient. The White Paper is not an ordinary essay, the information must be precise. There is no delay, it will be tabled in this sitting,” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

His comments came a day after his predecessor Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein lambasted Mohamad for giving varied timelines on the tabling of the policy paper.

“On Jan 10, he said it would be tabled in September. On Jan 29 he said it would be tabled in July. Then in July, he changed and said it would be tabled in the upcoming Parliament meeting. In August, he said it would be done after November and recently, he said it would be after Budget 2020.

“In the context of defence assets, it will take time (for the strategies to be implemented) and I don’t think terrorists will wait for our White Paper to be tabled,” Hishammuddin said during his Budget 2020 speech on Tuesday.

The Sembrong MP called for concrete plans and strategies in defence to not only ensure the nation’s security, but also to look after the welfare and morale of the armed forces. Mohamad is scheduled to table the Defence White Paper before the end of the current Parliament sitting in December.

The document is expected to take stock of the country’s military assets and offer clarity on Malaysia’s defence stance among others. Countries which have come up with Defence White Papers include Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.

Mohamad has so far pointed to greater concern and emphasis on natural disaster response, likening the new approach to Japan’s non-combatant approach.

He said the White Paper will focus on optimising defence assets towards disaster operations in the country and in the region such as the annual floods in the Philippines and earthquakes in Indonesia.

In August last year, the minister drew flak for his comments where he described Malaysia’s defence assets as the worst in South-East Asia.

He said interruptions to defence allocations made it challenging for the ministry to conduct necessary maintenance of its military assets such as the Royal Military Air Force’s Russian fighter jets. The upkeep of the Sukhoi jet fighters required a budget of RM1.8 billion, but only RM1.1 billion was approved.

The Finance Ministry recently announced an allocation of RM15.6 billion to the Defence Ministry, making it the fifth-largest recipient in Budget 2020.