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Foreword By Lim Kit Siang for Are We Protected: Malaysian Defence Uncovered

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Over the past few decades, some books about Malaysian defence were written and published from time to time. But most of them were written for academicians rather than the general public. Strategic and security studies are important, yet good governance, transparency and integrity in defence sector are equally important and should be studied too.

It is not a secret that the Malaysian defence sector is always excluded from public scrutiny in the name of preserving national security and state secrets. But the question is to what extent national security and state secrets should extend. This is a contentious issue which should be the subject of debate by parliamentarians as well as rakyat to determine the boundary of national secrets.

Is buying handkerchiefs a national secret? Is mismanagement or corruption in defence sector a national secret? The answers should be no but the federal government is putting everything under Official Secrets Act in actual practice.

I remember it was in Malacca on 23th April 1978 that I was arrested and charged with five counts under the Official Secrets Act related with the revelation of an arms deal between Malaysia and Sweden which carried a total maximum of 31 years’ jail sentence on conviction. In the High Court, I was fined $3,000 three charges each, $5,000 on one charge and $1,000 on the last.

This meant that I would have been disqualified as a Member of Parliament on four of the five charges. On appeal to the Federal Court, the $5,000 fine was reduced to $1,500, the three fines of $3,000 each to $1,000, while the last fine maintained. As a result, I continued as a MP, but it shows that how risky it is and the courage and integrity needed when dealing with defence matters, particularly on revealing wrongdoings in defence acquisition.

I was told that the author was blacklisted by the Defence Ministry due to his criticisms against the anomalies in defence procurement and policies. What justification is there for blacklisting a writer who just merely putting forward alternative viewpoints on the issues? Using executive power to silence dissidents is none other than an abuse of power. Barring the author did not stop him from making criticisms, on the contrary, it has driven the author to produce more well-researched articles and arguments presented in this book.

The book which encompasses the introduction of Malaysian Defence, transparency, defence budget dissection, alternative defence policy and racial issue in armed forces shed considerable light on the Malaysian defence sector for laymen. Particularly, chapter nine which revealed that the main person who should bear the responsibility for the 2013 Lahad Datu tragedy should be the then Defence Minister Najib Razak based on parliamentary answer and the author’s media collection.

I thank the author for putting so much efforts in producing this book which will certainly enable more people to have a quick glimpse about what’s happening in the Malaysian defence sector. A better Malaysia is not merely built on lip-service but on persistency and perseverance to uphold good governance and democracy.

Last but not least, it is timely to put the largely unmonitored defence sector under public scrutiny and parliamentary review.

 

Lim Kit Siang
Democratic Action Party Parliamentary Leader
Member of Parliament for Gelang Patah

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Print

In conjunction with the launch of REFSA’s second book in its Tempurung Series – Are We Protected: Malaysian Defence Uncovered, a public forum entitled “Does Malaysia Need A Security Sector Reform Agenda?” will be held on 29th July 2015 (Wednesday), 7.30pm to 10.30pm at The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

Written by a former journalist who was blacklisted by the Ministry of Defence and currently REFSA researcher Lam Choong Wah, the book is the first ever attempt to tackle Malaysian defence issues in layman’s terms such as:

– Arms procurement decision-making procedures
– The strength of the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces and its place in the arms race
– The level of transparency in the military
– The requirements for military promotions
– The parties responsible for the Lahad Datu stand-off

By analysing the many contentious defence issues, the forum hopes to draw some conclusions on the following two questions: “How well is the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces performing?” and “Is the Malaysia security sector up to date?”

Through organizing a public forum and publishing this timely book, REFSA hopes to shed some light on key national defence issues which haven’t been discussed seriously.

Our three panelists will explore Malaysian defence issues from both policy and academic perspectives. Join us in this exciting discussion.

Details of the forum are as follows:

Date: 29th July 2015 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30-10.30pm
Venue: KLSCAH 2nd Floor, Jalan Maharajalera, Kuala Lumpur
Language: English

The book will be launched by DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang who will be the guest of honour.

Forum Panelists:

1, Liew Chin Tong: Chairman of REFSA; MP for Kluang
2, Dr. K.S Balakrishnan: Senior Lecturer, Department of International and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya
3, Lam Choong Wah: Senior Fellow at REFSA; author of the book.

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