Utusan Online July 18th 2009 reports that Defence Minister Dato Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is currently visiting Malaysian troops on UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, had announced that “Malaysia will supply Lebanon with defence equipments around the middle of next year, to enable the country to defend her territorial integrity”. Dr. Ahmad Zahid further stressed that the equipments meant “are purely defensive in nature, and he will soon be meeting with defence equipment manufacturers to request them to be ready with the supplies”.
This is a bold statement and offer by the minister that will benefit the local defence industry. However, no specifics is given to the type of equipments to be supplied to Lebanon, but I suppose the term “defensive” could conjure up equipments like amoured protective vest, a full range of webbing equipments, combat boots and uniforms; small arms ammunition; all of these are available for manufacture in the country.
Certainly, the country is not yet ready to supply more sophisticated equipments such as small arm weapons, vehicles and radio communication, all of which are some of the vital equipments required in battle, but have not been given enough emphasis for research and development to reach the export level. I believe, we already have an established automotive industry that can further be developed to produce and manufacture vehicle to meet military specifications.
Likewise, the small arms weapon industry that was anchored by SME Technologies that was producing the Steyr Assault Rifle for the Malaysian Army can as well begin the research and development of its own indigenously designed weapons. The company has the experience, the human resource, technical know-how and machineries to undertake the project. We can learn from the experience of our nearest neighbour i.e. Singapore in weapon development, and that she is today an exporter of small arms weapon. I do not wish to dwell more on Singapore's defence industry, because her progress in the industry will put our country to shame.
Both our political and military leaders have to admit that our country has willfully ignored the importance of the defence industry. I may be wrong in saying this, but after 52 years of independence, what really substantive has the country produced in terms of fulfilling its defence needs. Producing boots and uniforms is not enough. But surprisingly, we have a Malaysian Defence Council in place for some years now, but what emanates out of the council's meeting in terms of developing the defence industry is not known. Once again, I wish to draw the lessons of Singapore, South Africa and Iran for all to understand how these countries have progressed to be world renowned defence equipment producers and manufactures. Basically it is the political will of their governments, and the enormous amount of money spend on R&D.
We have lacked far behind in almost ever aspect of our defence industry, and I attribute this to the lack of a political will by our national leaders, including that of our military leaders. If we are to remain stagnated as what we are in the development of our defence industry, then we might as well omit the phrase that discusses our self reliance capability in our National Defence Policy.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION