Defence Budget One-Oh-One Primer Series

One-Oh-One: Introducing the Defence Budget Series!

Have you always had burning questions about the Malaysian Defence Budget? Is it enough? Is it too much? Why do we need defence spending if we’re at peace? All of these questions and more will hopefully be answered in the course of the content we are releasing!

This year, the Supply Bill, which is the law that needs to be passed to fund the federal government, will be tabled on the 6th of November. In the days leading up to the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech, we at Projek Pertiwi will be producing content to cover the Defence Budget. Our aim is to give readers a basic definition of the terms used in the budget document itself, as well as a framework for analysing the budget so that readers can understand the nuances and difficulties surrounding defence planning.

To that end, this series of articles will cover the following:

  1. Definitions and Formatting of B/P.60 – Kementerian Pertahanan
  2. A Framework for Analysing the Defence Budget
  3. A Look at Previous Defence Budgets
  4. Defence Budgets: 2021 and Beyond

As a brief summary, the first two articles will look at the budget document as it is presented, and then provide a logical framework for how to piece together relevant information from the budget document itself and beyond in order to form as accurate a picture as possible as to the effectiveness of defence spending. The third article will use these definitions and this framework to look at how previous defence budgets have fared, and the last article will look at how the nature of defence spending should change now that the Defence White Paper has been tabled and accepted across government.

Furthermore, Projek Pertiwi’s Editor will also be providing opinion pieces on the subject as well. There are several key developments in the past few months that warrant commentaries, so watch out for those in this space as well!

As it stands, defence spending is a fairly contentious subject in our country. Even today, getting granular data about defence spending is difficult. Much of the necessary information to have incisive analyses into defence spending priorities is hidden behind the Official Secrets Act, often for the sake of preserving operational security. While this is a fair consideration, this does not mean that discourse around defence spending priorities should be 100% taboo.

In many developed countries, discussions about defence spending are far more open and critical in nature. Volumes of academic and public policy literature exist to help policy makers and practitioners to introspect on various problems that arise in the defence field from time to time, and it is only through rigorous, critical discourse that new insights are gained and new solutions are derived.


The Congressional Budget Office of the United States provides quite an extensive set of reports and documents across several defence spending priorities. It is important to note here that sometimes, Congress’ own researchers do not agree with the assumptions and calculations made by that of the Department of Defence. For those interested, here’s a link to their website: https://www.cbo.gov/topics/defense-and-national-security/defense-budget

With these articles, we at Projek Pertiwi hope to bring Malaysia on it’s first step towards opening the defence budget discussion. The release of the first Malaysian Defence White Paper has given us a blank slate to start these discussions in a meaningful way. Ultimately, greater nuance and clarity on these discussions will allow the Rakyat to understand how defence spending affects their lives, and thus be in a better informed position to hold the government accountable.

We hope you join us these next few days as we look into Malaysia’s Defence Budget!

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