Sunday, December 28, 2008


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi recent state visit to Iran is lauded successful by the main stream media. Surprisingly, and to the observance of many, the Minister of International Trade Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin was conspicuously missing. Is this a tell tale of the 'boss' not wanting to have his Minister of International Trade to be in his entourage? And if this tell tale is true, then one can guess that the two are not in 'friendly terms'; yet the visit has an important trade agenda to discuss with the Iranians. If it was Rafidah Aziz, she surely would not have been left out in an all important state visit like this.

Could it be that the 'boss' is bitter with Muhyidin, and views him as a radical and a trouble maker, who was instrumental in getting the 'boss' to hand over the reign of government to Najib much earlier than the 'boss' had planned? Rumours were abound sometime ago, that Muhyidin would be ousted in a cabinet shake-up, but judging from the time left, this rumour may not materialised. I just wonder what would have happened to UMNO, if Muhyidin was ousted from the cabinet. I am quite certain that UMNO Johore, and Johoreans being parochial in nature, would surely have reacted to the detriment of the party.

Certainly, there are many things that Malaysia could learn and benefit from Iran, in particular at how Iran manages and operates its huge petroleum and natural gas resources. I am told by some Malaysian friends in the oil and gas industry, that Iran perceives Petronas as an 'unfriendly business partner'. Viewing Petronas investment in Iran, the aforesaid perception may have some truth. It was only recently that a Malaysian company (not Petronas) secured a USD14 billion gas deal with an Iranian company. I am further informed that Petronas investment in Iran is with Total, a French oil company, were its stake is relatively small by O&G standards. And if Petronas is extremely successful in Sudan, why not in Iran? Has this got anything to do with the US sanctions, that has direct influence over Petronas investments in Iran?

Another aspect worth looking at was Iran's defence industry, where Malaysia could learn from. One could remember that Iran under the Shah regime, was totally dependent upon the West, particularly the US, for its defence needs. Following the fall of the Shah, Iran began to build its indigenous defence industry, virtually from scratch, and over a period of two decades, is today self reliant in its defence needs; and this despite sanctions from the west and its allies.

Certainly nothing much can be said of Malaysia's defence industry, which is still very much in its rockets and missiles to show off, and even if there is some effort towards the development of rockets and missiles, it is still to remote from production and manufacturing.

And for me, securing Proton's venture into Iran, and declaring it a major investment success for Malaysia is certainly not enough.

Posted at 3.00pm on Dec 28, 2008


maurice said...

The success of the Iranian defence industries can be attributed to the lessons they learnt from the Iran-Iraq war which ended with no clear-cut winner for either side.

Iran entered the war with military equipment inherited from the Shah regiment which was mainly purchased from the US and Europe.Suffering sanctions from its former allies, the Khomenie government could not exert the technological advantage once enjoyed by the Shah regime to win the war.

After the war with Iraq, the new government poured vast amount money to build its own defence industries concentrating on aerospace, maritime and landwarfare requirements.Today all defence factories in Iran are owned 100% by the Iranian government.

Iran has successfully adapted Russian defence technology to build its own versions of missiles for maritime and landwarfare requirements.Also Iranian engineers have successfully reverse engineered some American products such as the TOOFAN which is a replicate of the US TOW missile.

Malaysia need to go back to the drawing board in order to build a credible defence industries.The present model is not working in favour our favour.Instead it provides opportunities for middle men to make big commissions for themselves and their circle of friends.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

You are absolutely correct in your comments. I have read so much about how Iran developed its defence industry, and obviously there are lots of lessons that our country can draw from Iran.
50 years had passed, and you have seen for yourself how much we have progressed in the development of our defence industry.
My only comment is that we lack the will to push forward our plans to seriously identify our defence needs and develop our defence industry, and buying seemed the best option

Anonymous said...

Let us be frank and honest about our opinion regarding defence industry in Malaysia.While serving in the Armed Forces before how many of our top gun has the guard and brain to promote or write a concept paper on this subject and vigorously advocate the idea until it is implemented.The culture then amongst the senior officers was more of self interest regarding promotion,posting overseas,golf and mundane issues within the confine of the Military boundaries.I might be wrong to say that the civilian organisation in Mindef added injury to the wound for not being supportive of whatever ideas that comes from the Military as they consider themselves superior and the Military are subservient to them as they are graduates and our Military officers are only MCE Grade 3 drop out.