“We would like to see at least a 20 percent participation of the non-Bumis in the RMAF,” said the Chief of RMAF, General Tan Sri Roslan bin Saad TUDM to reporters after witnessing the Farewell Parade for Major General Dato Ahmad Tarmizi bin Elias TUDM, the outgoing Chief of Staff (Administration) at the Air Force Training Institute in Ipoh.
“Right now, they number between 5 percent to 10 percent in a force of about 15,000,” he added. “We need all the expertise that we can get as we have aircraft with high technology, electronics, computers where they can contribute their skills and expertise in the defence of the nation.”
“20 percent is not the ceiling but that is the minimum level of non-Bumi participation that we would like to see in the RMAF.”
Low pay is the excuse given for not joining the Air Force which is not the case. Diploma holders could earn a basic pay of between RM2,300 to RM3,000, while degree holders start at RM3,600. On top of that there are allowances that they can be eligible for depending on the trade they are in. This does not include other perks such as free medical and dental treatment at the various Armed Forces Medical Centres as well as housing. Even a recruit could earn up to RM1,200 inclusive of service and special service allowances upon completion of training.
The RMAF used to have about three non-Bumi generals (from the rank of Brigadier General) out of a total of 10 back in the 1980s. In the current line up there are only three out of about 40. The non-Bumis have to realise that they have as much responsibility as the Bumis do in defending this nation. Among the youngsters we could see how non-Bumi children partake in physical games such as paintball, or electronic war games on computers but this however does not translate into their participation in the Armed Forces in general. To say that the military (and the police) are Bumi organisations is not true at all – the large number of Bumis in these services only reflect the unwillingness of the non-Bumis to serve their nation.
On the issue of cross-border encroachment, on the part of the RMAF, General Roslan reiterates that the RMAF is and will continue to support enforcement operations in the ESSZONE together with other agencies that make up the ESSCOM. ESSCOM is not just about the RMAF but encompasses all border protection agencies such as the Army, Navy, Police, the MMEA, Customs and the Immigration department.
General Roslan hopes that the media could play a bigger role in making the Armed Forces attractive to the general mass and hope to see better participation of the non-Bumis in each of the services.