I read that Mindef has formed the Malaysian Defence, Security and Enforcement Council (MDSEC) whose primary function is to ‘co-ordinate the production of items related to defence, security and enforcement with the view to enhance the standard of the industries in the affected field’. It is also to ‘strengthen understanding between the government and private companies which produced defence and security products and hence avoid competition’. This announcement was made by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently.
Although I am not privy to the full terms of reference of MDSEC, this certainly is a new development which I believe will bode well for the future of the Malaysian Defence Industry. Its realization though late, can be a source of encouragement and motivation for the private sector to indulge itself with the industry as there is now a well regulated national body to co-ordinate the activities of the defence industry sector.
I am sure there will be regulatory policies emanating from the council, and utmost to the private sector is an understanding as to what will be the government’s contribution to the industry, in particular with regards to funding for research and development, grants or loans to subsequently produce and manufacture readied and well tested products, and an assurance that locally manufactured products has the priority for purchase over imported products. As we all know, costs is the most inhibiting factor if one were to indulge in the defence industry sector, and without an assurance from the government that the end product will be firmly secured for local market first, no right minded investor would want to get themselves involved with the defence industry sector.
We all know too well that the Malaysian Defence Industry is very much in its ‘infancy’ compared to some countries of the ASEAN region. Of course, the Republic of Singapore is ahead, and now has a well developed and burgeoning defence industry despite being a relatively young nation. One has only to understand how Singapore reached the zenith of its defence production and manufacturing capabilities which was clearly the result of well crafted government policies. There was also the political will and commitment of the government and its leaders that invigorated the private sector to accept challenges in the production and manufacture of sophisticated defence products. There are many things that we can learn from the Singapore experience, and it is also for this reason that I would concur with a recent proposal put forward by the Defence Minister for the creation of a sort of regional ‘Defence Industry Council’ (if I may use such a term).
Malaysia has for far too long been dependent upon the purchase of foreign manufactured defence products and after 50 odd years of independence, the country is still unable to produce even a single indigenously designed pistol, let alone talk about producing rocket, missiles, tanks etc… etc. Why has this been so? And why has the government been lethargic, slow and lacking in concern to recognize the importance of developing an indigenous defence industry that is capable of meeting some of the nation’s defence requirement? Even if there has been a local defence industry, why have our own people been so cocky and quick to reject a locally manufactured product, for an imported one? This has been a perennial problem faced by our local defence manufacturer, and for as long as such skewed mentality prevails among our own people, our defence industry will forever remain uninspiring to an investor.
Let us hope that with the creation of MDCSE, it shall signal a new beginning for the local defence industry and for it to emerge an important and niche industry that contributes towards meeting the nation’s defence needs, as well as fulfilling the nation’s aspiration of becoming a develop nation by year 2020.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION