Thursday, July 16, 2009

MORE CAN BE DONE FOR SOLDIERS

I read two interesting statements made by Defence Minister YB Dato Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently. The first being the need to increase the allowances of the Army Commandos befitting the nature of their job, and secondly, the desire to see that soldiers own affordable homes prior to their retirement, and are gainfully employed in a second vocation. I applaud such statements, and I believe the soldiers are equally enlightened by it.

The Army Commandos, and similarly the elite units of the other two sister services i.e. Navy and Air Force should not be left out in any consideration for an increase in their allowances and benefits. I am not privy to the nature of the allowances, but I suppose it has to do with the training skills and hardship while serving in the elite force. I have no doubt as to their capabilities, professionalism and the extreme risk they face in the performance of their duties. And for this, one should not be envious of the little extra income that they get by being a member of the commandos. One has only to witness the grueling and nerve wrenching training that these special breed of soldiers have to go through, to qualify for the exulted green or maroon beret.

Getting an affordable home upon their retirement has always been a primary desire of soldiers. Soldiers would generally prefer retiring back to their kampung, and to be closer to the surau and mosque. It is not surprising if one were to find that the Bilal or the Imam of a mosque in some of the kampung are ex-soldiers.

However, returning to the kampung upon retirement may not be welcomed by the soldier’s children nowadays. Military camps are no longer in isolated areas, but are now in the vicinity of major towns and cities. Hence, the children are more exposed to urban life, attend urban schools and later are admitted to colleges and universities. And once they enter the job market, they generally remain in cities and towns. Hence, the demand for houses for soldiers, either for those still in service or are retired, are greater in urban rather than back in their kampung.

I applaud too, the proposal by the Defence Minister to apportioned government land assigned to the ministry, to be developed for individually owned homes for soldiers. I suppose the end result will be affordable and better houses, since the land cost would be cheaper. Another advantage to this proposal is that the soldiers who throughout their military career have been living alongside one another in military quarters, will again be residing together within the same housing complex upon their retirement. The families are therefore able to maintain a social life, and the kind of neighborhood that they are so accustomed to, while residing within a military complex. Hopefully, a soldier like me, and many others who have retired for more than a decade, can also benefit from this proposal.

With regards to a second vocation, this has always been the desire of the government to ensure that soldiers are provided some form of training that will be useful to them upon retirement. Soldiers, particularly the lower ranks normally retire at an early age; normally in their early 40’s where most still have school going children to take care for. Merely living off their pension may not be sufficient; hence they will need to labour on with some form of a vocation to meet their family obligation.

This is where institutions like the Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) and PERHEBAT plays an important role to ensure that soldiers are not neglected in retirement. I am told that LTAT is cash rich from money derived from soldiers contribution, and why not use the money to create businesses, wherein soldiers can be employed upon completion of the training provided by PERHEBAT that is fully funded by the government.

We know that soldiers of the Armed Forces are trained in various skills e.g. mechanics, electricians, welders, brick layers, carpenters, machinist, vehicle and heavy machine operators, deep sea divers, trainers, workshop management, and many more. I suppose managing an outfit like SPANCO should not pose a problem, since the skills needed to manage a vehicle maintenance and repair workshop is in abundance among members of the Armed Forces. LTAT could easily take over the management of SPANCO to be managed and operated by retired soldiers with the required technical and managerial skills.

Similarly, the Oil and Gas industry (O&G) pays a handsome salary for its skilled workers, such as welders, technicians and deep sea divers. In this regard, PERHEBAT could provide enhancement training to the soldiers with such basic skills, meeting the standards of the O&G industry, with the view of an employment in the industry.

Another profitable business that LTAT could look at is to go into animal farming e,g goats and cattle. There is a huge consumption for meat in the country, and the supply does not always meet the demand of consumers. Hence, meat is being imported from overseas whose halal status for Muslim consumers is reasonably in doubt. I am told that even the religious authorities dared not claim that all imported animal carcass (either whole or cut) are halal, and if this is true, who then could guarantee that all imported meat can be consumed by Muslims? It is for this reason that I forbid my wife from buying imported meat, although it is reasonably cheaper than local meat.

A lot more can be done for the betterment and welfare of members of the Armed Forces, either while in service, and even more upon their retirement. Allowing retired soldiers to become taxi drivers and security guards should no longer be the only vocation befitting retired soldiers, but the creation of entrepreneurs and a highly skilled work force should be the ultimate.


CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION

9 comments:

aofuad said...

Dear Dato Pak Chat,
You are truly a well polished product of the Military system.
A general who has the heart of his men at all time.
You have not forgotten your platoon commander days of how one Sargeant and 3 Corporals were your strength in getting the other 30 men to move.
As McArthur says that 'Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away', i would like to add on that these "Old Soldiers temporarily fade away, only waiting to be called up any other day"..
Yours is a classic example of 'being called up, any other day; where in your fading years, you have not forgotten your true calling, i.e the infantry's soldiers mission of "Seek and Destroy"...
You are still actively seeking and 'destroying' the injustice that is still rampant in our society.
Well done Dato.
You too belongs to the rare category of men 'Who can see through the Fogs of War".
The smoke and sounds of battle do not deters you.....
My doa is for you to be healthy and wise for a long time so that at least we have some one who writes on behalf of some of us....those that have faded and have no desire to be called up....again...!!!
You are the right material to be heading the Veteran's dept or maybe advising Perhebat.
Please write more on the many proposals on how the other ranks can be a ready pool of manpower supply to the Govt after their 21 years complusory service.
Please emphasize that these soldiers are still full of staem at the age of just above 40 when they are thrown back to civvy streets....
Please write about them because, i do not think that they can write.
I know, officers are supposed to be "Managers of Violence" and the men the "Executioners of Violence".
But we can also be "Managers of Peace" because, if we can manage violence, therefore it would be easier to manage Peace?
Keep Fighting Dato.
Sincerely,
Azudin O Fuad, Lt Col retired.

maurice said...

The intention of YB DS Zahid Hamidi to assist our servicemen is highly commendable.

Suggest the Minister also look into the weapon and equipment needed by our soldiers to excel in combat environment.

The soldiers must be fully kitted and equipped to provide the morale and confidence required to go into battle against our potential advesaries.

He should physically examine the situation himself rather than reading reports and listening to advice by the Generals, KSU and SUBs.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Aofuad,

Thanks for the kind words. It is difficult for me to shade off the 'soldier being' in me. I owe so much to my soldiers, and the least I can do now is to speak up for them and for those still in service.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

I believe Zahid is trying to do his best for the AF. And the little I know of him, he is a sincere person.

maurice said...

Dear Dato,

I am afraid YB DS Zahid Hamidi has too many things on his plate right now.

He should concentrate on the 'bread and butter' issues first which to my mind is all about upgrading the combat capabilities of the men men facing the sharp end.

Efforts must be taken to solve the issues of inferior weapon systems/ equipment and personal items currently bedeviling the military.

komando said...

ALL SAID AND DONE!
HOPEFULLY WE SHALL SEE FRUITION!
THERE MUST BE STRONG POLITICAL WILL & NOT JUST ANOTHER "NATO"!

THIS HAS BEEN SAID A LONG TIME AGO, PAPERS WERE WRITTEN AND FORWARDED TO THE THEN DEFENCE MINISTER...WAY BACK IN 2003....MR. NAJIB SAT ON IT !

NOW WE WAIT FOR THE EGGS TO HATCH! GOOD LUCK BUDDIES...

HOPE THE CURRENT MINISTER IS SERIOUS.

A POOR SOLDIER WITHOUT ANY TRADE ESPECIALLY INFANTRYMAN END UP BECOMING "JAGA AT THE BANKS", TAXI DRIVERS, COMPANY DRIVERS !
WHAT HAVE WE DONE ABOUT IT? IS THAT NOT A SHAME AND DISGRACE FOR A SOLDIER TO SHED HIS PROUD UNIFORM AND BECOME A BODYGUARD INSTEAD, DID HE HAD A CHOICE?

"It bleeds my heart to have a driver at age 65 driving me around, he was a former RSM "

"His tiny pension was insufficient by current standards."

HAD HE A CHOICE? HE NEEDS TO SCHOOL HIS KIDS, some in varisty AND FEED THE FAMILY.

HE NEEDS THE BREAD AND BUTTER ON THE TABLE DAILY THREE TIMES MINIMUM.

THE OFFICER CORP IS A DIFFERENT KETTLE OF FISH AS I HAVE POSTED MY 2 CENTS VIEW MONTHS AGO!

THE OR's WITH SOME TECHNICAL SKILLS TRAINING & SERVICE EXPERIENCE CAN GET BETTER OPPORTUNITIES!

IT DOES NOT TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO START A SPECIAL PROGRAM FOR THE FORCES!

WITH GOOD INCENTIVES AND A GOOD FUTURE, WE WILL ATTRACT GOOD MEN & WOMEN TO JOIN THE FORCES, NOT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL & LOUSY LEFT OVER's.

IN GOOD TIMES NOBODY WANTS TO SLOGGED AS A SOLDIER!

IN BAD TIMES WHEN WORK AND EMPLOYMENT IS SCARCE THEY ENLIST AS SOLDIERS AND COPS, THE LAST OPTION!

LET US MAKE THE UNIFORM SERVICE THE FIRST CHOICE OF OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN.

maurice said...

Dear Komando and Readers,

I think it is rather unfair to blame YAB DS Najib regarding skill acqusition and employemt opportunities of our ex-serveicemen.On the contrary no one can deny that he has done a lot to improve the welfare of our servicemen when he was the Defence Minister.


I lay the blame on the leadership of LTAT.There are many things that they can do to create business and employment opportunities for our ex-servicemen.

For example how about developing franchising schemes within the military bases and camps.I want to suggest the PERNAMA shops operating by LTAT in the military camps be franchised to ex-servcemen.LTAT merely become the umbrella organization to the franchisors.Guide and help the ex-servicemen in management and financing so that they can be successful in running the PERNAMA shops.LTAT should be more adventurous in their business vision.Go and develop new type of business opportunities at the innternational level like what FELDA and Petronas are doing.

Other franchisng schemes which LTAT can help to develop in the military bases for our ex-servicemen are: bicycle/bike repair, motorcar repair, barber shops, tailoring services, handphone shops, kopitiam cafes, hair salons,etc..etc.These are small businesses to start the ball rolling in a cpative market.

I hope the Chairman of LTAT, Admiral Tan Sri Anwar (Bersara) would take the challenge to assist our ex-servicemen in a more aggressive way.

This is my humble suggestions, please do not take offence.

tuahjebat said...

I am glad that Zahid Hamidi is making possitive moves to improve the well being of the soldiers and ex-servicemen. It is timely for him to continue what has been left by Najib in the pursuit of making military service more attractive and respected.

Say what you want regarding the "negatives" of Najib when he was the Defence Minister, but we cannot deny the fact that he has done a lot for the military in improving pay, allowances and the military terms of service.

However, there are still many which Zahid Hamidi can "fine tune" to the terms and conditions of service in order to make military service among the preferred choices for our young men and women. In this process, the senior
military leaders must play their roles right in putting service
above everything else, especially
the "tendency to be nice" at all times to politicians and PTD officers.

The way ahead for every soldier and family is to have a reasonable home after they retire from the military. Presently there are too many cases of ex-servicemen not having proper places to be called home after more than 20 years sacrificing their lives to the country.

With Zahid Hamidi's impending plan
for soldiers to have comfortable home, let us hope that we will no longer hear "homeless" ex-servicemen after this plan is implemented. My only reservation to this plan is when it comes to the execution. Many good plans in the past ended up in frustration and disappointment due to failures
in the implementation process.

Touching on the subject of preparing officers and men for the
second career after retirement, there has to be a comprehensive plan by Mindef to engage Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran (JHEV), LTAT, PERHEBAT and PBTM in playing positive roles to see the success of this plan.

I know the new PERHEBAT Chairman is working something to have an effective training concept for potential retirees so that the training and courses conducted at PERHEBAT will enhance the retirees when they engage in businesses. Instead of merely fulfilling the need to run courses for potential retirees. PERHEBAT must plan and conduct the right type of training for the specific people who are only suitable for appropriate businesses!

I am a bit disappointed for Zahid Hamidi not to touch anything on the very sensitive perception of Mindef and the military being corrupted to the core! However, knowing Zahid, this painful subject
must be among his top priority agenda.

There must be a complete reformation of tender and procurement procedures and complete impartiallity of mlitary seniors in any defence contracts. There are many "loop-holes" in the present system which offer opportunities for some to get cronies and families to be favoured in getting Mindef contracts.. this must be put to a complete stop!

I received very encouraging informations regarding a move by Zahid Hamidi to have the Parliament to approve an AKTA for the military retirees to get the government to continue to offer some welfare assistances to ex-servicemen from the day they retire until they depart for the next world. Let us get all our Wakil Rakyats to support this AKTA proposal when the time comes.

Zahid must once and for all resolve the present sickening and confusing state of situation regarding the Ex-Service Association ( PBTM ) which is going from bad to worse. I have a chance to talk to certain senior persons in PBTM who strongly
commented PBTM is going down the drain with too many in-house squabbles, lack of funds and questionable leadership, both at the national and state levels.

It is high time for Mindef to re-look at the PBTM and the various
clubs involving military retirees.
I strongly believe that JHEV is now playing very effective roles in looking after the military retirees and I feel that it is fair and the time has come for JHEV to have some form of jurisdiction or "control" over PBTM and the services/corps clubs. For that matter, Mindef may have to seriously review the PBTM's existing constitution!

maurice said...

Sdr TuahJebat and Dear Readers,

The PBTM is undergoing a slow death because it is not getting the support of serving and retired officers.The leadership of PBTM was hijacked by a group of discontented ex-servicemen who opposed the PBTM being led by ex Generals.By sheer voting numbers alone they were able to put a man of their own choice whose quality to promote the PBTM's agenda at the national level is somewhat questionable.


With JHEV coming into the picture, more financially able to look after the welfare of ex-servicemen, I predict it won't be long before PBTM suffers its own natural death.

I would to like suggest the retired officers consider forming its own association to promote its own interests.