I would like to share with my readers a comment from a senior colleague of mine regarding the highly ‘controversial statement’ made by the Chief of Defence Forces recently, concerning the revelation made by four ex-servicemen on postal voting that they claimed were mired in abuses. Let it be known that whatever comments made by my colleague and I in this posting is not intended to belittle or to ridicule the Generals of the AF. It is merely a voice to remind the AF leadership that the retirees are still mindful of what goes on in the AF today, and that the AF remains true to their avowed profession i.e. as defenders of the nation.
LT KOL IDRIS BIN HASSAN (Retired) wrote:
I refer to “The army is apolitical” (The Star, Aug 19) with Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Zulkifeli Mohd Zain refuting claims by four ex-soldiers that they were ordered to cast postal votes for other officers and their wives while they were in service. The General went on to rebuke the public by saying “people need to show their support for the army’s role in the country, and asking, “How can we be loyal to you when you are disloyal to us?”
With due respect, the CDF needs to be reminded that we as a nation were able to successfully defeat the Japanese during World War 2 when they occupied our country, repel the enemy forces during the Indonesian Confrontation, and rout the communist terrorist during the Emergency largely because the rakyat supported the army by giving vital information on enemy movements.
Many joined vigilante corps like the Home Guard and fought alongside the army. Thousands of them lost their lives in reprisal action by the enemy. The public has always supported, and will continue to support the army to protect our beloved homeland. To say the public is disloyal is perhaps not the best choice of words.
The army is the combatant arm of the nation. Its duty is to defend the country and the way of life the nation has chosen for itself. The army’s foremost duty is loyalty to King and country and of obedience to the orders of the government of the day. It remains a political and owes no allegiance whatsoever to any political party. It is for this very reason that soldiers are required to abstain from taking part in politics, directly or indirectly. The intention is to keep the army from conflicting currents so that it may retain the team spirit which is so vital for its success.
The restrictions, however do not bar soldiers from holding opinions on matter that concern them as citizens, but from expressing such as are likely to jeopardize the trust the nation and the people have placed in them. Our Generals too are at times to be blame when the impartiality of our army is questioned.
I remember reading in an English language tabloid, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, RMAF Chief tells personnel. The action of the outgoing RMAF Chief was most inappropriate when he said that “those who wear the uniform by right should vote for the existing government, as we have benefitted from the present administration”.
The General was probably trying to score some brownie points in the hope of earning a lucrative appointment in retirement which is usually the case. Sadly, such statements from a very senior officer and a service chief at that do not augur well for the impartiality of the army.
At this level, the CDF is not only a soldier but also a diplomat; he should not display combatant body language when appearing on national TV. This is also no longer a time when a mere denial would suffice and the problem would go away. Perhaps the CDF needs to check the present system of postal voting in all military establishments and suggest changes if necessary.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION