The change over of leadership of the Armed Forces recently had come as a surprise to most and to some, it was expected. I have to wait a while to understand why this sudden an 'abnormal' departure of the former Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Tan Sri Gen Abd Aziz Zainal who apparently left without the grandeur of the military parades, dinning out, farewell visits to formations as well as a call upon his foreign counterparts, especially those from within ASEAN.
I did seek an explanation from some serving officers and those retirees regarding the sudden departure of Gen Aziz Zainal, but many agreed that for whatever the reason, it was improper for the government to have allowed Gen Aziz Zainal to leave in such a haste. Never has there been an occasion where a CDF had left the military service in a manner that Gen Aziz Zainal did. The least would have been for the Armed Forces to honour him in a farewell parade that all outgoing CDF truly deserve.
I do not wish to speculate nor do I wish to say anything that will embarrass Gen Aziz Zainal. But I sense that there is something seriously wrong, and this will only allow serving officers and especially those retired senior military officers to come in defence of their kind, and to perceive that the government has not given due recognition, respect and honour to a retiring CDF. Certainly, I am one of those who have a similar perception.
I am told that Gen Aziz Zainal was to have retired in August 2007 at the age of 56 then, but upon his appointment as the CDF in February 2007, he was offered to serve for one year considered from his effective date of appointment as the CDF, that would expire end of January 2008. He was once again offered another year of service that expires end of January 2009, just short of approximately 6 months to his 58th birth date, that is now the new compulsory retiring age of all senior military officers. On completing his second extension at the end of January 2009, he was again offered to serve until his handing over on September 1, 2009. I am told too that he is now on 5 months resettlement leave until 31 January 2010. In all, Gen Aziz Zainal had served as the CDF for approximately 2 years and 6 months.
I am baffled as how the government, in particular the Ministry of Defence could announced Gen Aziz Zainal's handing over to the newly named CDF just within days after the Armed Forces Council sitting. My experience tells me that the Armed Forces Council decision on the appointment of the new CDF will require the prior sanction of His Majesty the King before an official announcement can be made, and this usually takes a bit of time.
Whatever the circumstances that led to a decision regarding the appointment of the new CDF, I deemed that the departure of Gen Aziz Zainal as abrupt and does not conform to the military norms that have been accorded to all previous CDFs. One must understand the status and standing of the CDF in the Armed Forces and our society, and it only leaves a bad taste to know the manner in which Gen Aziz Zainal had departed from the military service.
Let there not be a similar occurrence like this, and having served as a staff in the Armed Forces Personnel Division, it would not be wrong for me to say that the blame should be shouldered by that Division as well as the Ministry's Chief Secretary, who is also the Secretary to the Armed Forces Council.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION