There has been a lot of speculation along the corridors of Mindef as to who would be the likely candidate to succeed the Army Chief, Gen Tan Sri Ismail Jamaluddin when he retires next year. Gen Tan Sri Ismail has been the Army Chief since 2006 and was at one point rumoured to succeed Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal as the Chief of Defence Force (CDF). This however did not materialised as the post was eventually taken up by the Chief of Air Force, Gen Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin who succeeded Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz on September 1st 2009.
In an open letter that I wrote to Gen Tan Sri Ismail posted on October 2009, I did imply that he should accept full responsibility with regards to the army’s involvement in politics during the Bagan Pinang by-elections held recently. The once apolitical status of the army has been ‘hijacked’ by the blatant involvement of the army under his charge during the campaigning, that has now placed the army in the firing line of the opposition for ridicule and unfavorable criticism. This will be the legacy that Gen Tan Sri Ismail will leave behind when he finally retires from the army.
It is the norm in the military service that upon the retirement of the Chief, it will be the Deputy who will continue the succession. However, there has been several instances in the past where the norm has been breached, in an obvious reflection of the internal strife and politicking that occurs among those who makes the ultimate decision. This act of abnormality give rise to various speculation and perception among members of the Armed Forces that conjures negativity, favouritism and poor planning on the part of the leadership.
As an illustration, during the last promotion exercise for the post of the Air Chief, the Deputy Air Chief was replaced, and another officer named to succeed the outgoing Air Chief. Another officer who was the Chief of Staff at Armed Forces HQ and possess the right credentials to be the Air Chief, was instead made the Deputy Air Chief.
In the case of the army some years back, a Deputy Army Chief had been bypassed for the post of Army Chief on three occasions, till he finally retired upon attaining the age of 55. This was an unusual case, and rumours has it that the Deputy Army Chief was a person who did not tow the line of the political masters and was ‘punished’ without any chance of a promotion. But in-so-far as the officers and soldiers were concerned, he was popularly known as the ‘Soldiers General’, and I suppose he paid dearly for being popular among the officers and soldiers.
Now, rumours has it that the incumbent Deputy Army Chief is likely to share a similar fate with that of his predecessor mentioned above. His is likely to be replaced by an officer who is favoured by the Army Chief, and who is poised to become the Army Chief when the incumbent retires. Rumours are abound that this plot is to safe guard the business interest of the Army Chief when he retires, and also that of his business friends and family members. If this is true, it is only proper that an investigation be carried out to determine the verity of the rumour. It is a rumour like this that puts the army in bad light, loss of public trust and confidence and most of all, it creates discontent among the serving members.
Here is where the Defence Minister being the Chairman of the Armed Forces Council (AFC) can play a decisive role to deliver a decision that may not be popular to the Chiefs, but one that is acceptable to the service. He should not show prejudice, and in making a decision, he has to be firm where the interest of the service is utmost, and to sack those who are known to have abused their position for their own personal benefit.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION