With the nation battling the pandemic and trying to recover from the economic slowdown, we can expect that the healthcare and social protection systems will be the main focus of this year’s budget. This is understandable, given the direct effects of the virus crisis on livelihoods and health. However, the existing budget is already underfunding the Malaysian Armed Forces’ core obligatory operations, notwithstanding commitments to increase readiness and capabilities and expanded operational demands due to the pandemic.
The Kerangka Keberhasilan Kementerian is a mixed bag. By establishing a clear hierarchy of ideas, it gives us relevant insights about the substantive and practical matters that the Ministry and the Armed Forces has to address in their portfolio. However, it falls extremely short when it comes to correctly measuring or estimating the real impact of the various programs and activities. Thus, in its role in assessing the performance of the Ministry, it is not so useful as a framework.
We learn that the defence budget is shaped around two general categories of expenditures – Operating (specifically, Supply) and Development Expenditures. We also learn that the general trend for the last five years has seen defence spending hover around RM13 to RM15 billion. Finally, the reader has some idea of who the primary stakeholders the Ministry is, in effect, serving: the rakyat, foreign diplomatic missions, veterans and military pensioners, members of the defence industry, and some private sector and non-government entities.
What does the Defence Budget tell us? Are we spending too much, just enough, or too little on national defence? Which programs should be prioritized over others? This series of articles will break down the formatting and the structure of the Defence Budget.
Both the bureaucratic dissonance and the political dismissiveness towards maritime security could perhaps be addressed by a national security strategy wargaming exercise. Such an exercise would take cues from President Eisenhower’s Project Solarium which produced NSC 162/2, a national security document outlining America’s national strategy to counter the Soviet Union.
The announcement by the Defence Minister cum Senior Minister in charge of security affairs Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to deploy the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) in support of the police has generated considerable consternation among the public. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what MAF is supposed to do, and how they fit in the bigger context of our national security.
On the 2nd December last year, the Pakatan Harapan government presented the Defense White Paper (DWP) in Parliament. The first of its kind, it is a publicly available policy document that provides guidance to policy makers on conducting national defense affairs, while also giving the members of the public an opportunity to engage in this previously opaque area of public policy. The current DWP is to last over a period of the next 10 years, starting from 2021.