Mindef seeks 1% of GDP to fund 10-year plan

The ministry will establish a Defence Investment Committee that will ensure every investment decision linked to defence will be made for national interest

pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE Ministry of Defence (Mindef) is looking at about RM13 billion per year to implement the Defence White Paper, which charts the country’s defence outlook over the next 10 years.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu (picture) said the ministry would require about 1% of GDP per annum to prepare the country against threats arising from new technology, terrorism, adverse weather challenges and geopolitical tensions between countries globally.

“We need at least 1% of GDP, but for 12th and 13th Malaysia Plans, we will ask for more,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby after the white paper was passed in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Mohamad said the ministry will establish a Defence Investment Committee soon, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, that will ensure every investment decision linked to defence will be made for national interest.

“The acquisition of defence assets is a form of intensive investment. In this context, stable provision of funds will allow management in defence to be carried out effectively,” he said.

The government identified five national defence priorities namely the development of various domains of the Malaysian Armed Forces, enhancing the country’s internal resilience through a holistic govern

mental and societal approach, strengthening defence cooperation, promoting the defence industry as an economic catalyst and institutionalising best practices.

The Defence White Paper — which will act as a government framework to outline policies in making Malaysia a safe, sovereign and prosperous nation — placed a significant emphasis on cyber threats.

“Cyberspace is a new domain for security, and the country’s geopolitics has the potential to impose threats to national security without having to resort to physical force.

“The advancement of technology like Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, deep learning, 5G technology and artificial intelligence have exposed military operations to cyber threats,” Mohamad said during the tabling of the white paper.

To achieve the aim, he added that the structure of the Armed Forces needs to be repurposed to fit the ever-changing security environment.

Mohamad said while the size of the military will remain throughout the 10-year period, priorities will be shifted to address future needs.

“The most important part in the development of the country’s military future is the government’s long-term investment to equip the Armed Forces with necessary assets and create a knowledge-based workforce with skills that are in line with modern warfare,” he said.

Former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein described earlier that the white paper as “disappointing” and “worrying” as it lacked details on the ministry’s approach, direction and policies for the next 10 years.

The decision to produce the white paper was announced by Mohamad in August last year after he drew flak for his comments where he described Malaysia’s defence assets as the worst in South-East Asia.

The document was supposed to take stock of the country’s military assets and offers clarity on the country’s defence stance, among others. Countries which have come up with defence white papers include Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.