Fair Winds and Following Seas

The American author John C Maxwell once said that a leader is one who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. It describes the leadership style of the outgoing Director-General of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Admiral (Maritime) Dato’ Mohd Zubil bin Mat Som who will go through mandatory retirement this Sunday.

Born in Lenggong, Perak (or London as he calls it, as it is close to Greece or Grik) on 19 March 1963, becoming the Director-General of Malaysia’s premier frontline agency that is safeguarding Malaysia’s maritime sovereignty as well as enforcing Malaysia’s laws and regulations in its maritime zones was never a dream of his, nor was it in his bucket list.

Commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy in 1981 and first served as a gunnery officer on board a 32-meter patrol craft. Both he and his wife endured a lot of hardship being in the Malaysian military family of the 1980s, when pay was small and bringing up children meant that a trip to the KFC required months of saving up and involved creative budgeting. He credited his wife’s patience and quiet character that had allowed him to go through tough moments with a peaceful mind.

I took a photo with him during his farewell lunch on his last day in the office. “Put up this photo and write about the hard life we faced back then,” he said.

Well, Sir, that was about our lives then, when we earned RM750 a month living in places where house rents can cost RM800. The challenge is in the now. So, I shall focus more on how you faced those challenges while you were at the helm of the MMEA.

After 24 years and nine months in the navy, he was called up for another form of selfless national service: to help form the MMEA. That was in 2006. He had to leave the service he loved to help form an organise a new maritime organisation that operated (and still operates) mostly hand-me-down ships that were around even BEFORE he joined the navy!

He was posted to the two maritime areas that had the most numbers of breaches of maritime laws: the Southern Region as its Deputy Director (Operations) based in Johor, and Sabah and Labuan as the region’s Maritime Director. It was in Johor when he was given the Excellent Services Award by the MMEA for leading several operations against piracy, cigarettes smuggling, trafficking of migrants and encroachments by foreign fishing vessels.

Dato’ Zubil was a no-nonsense leader. He did have his lighter moments and cracked jokes once in a while, but even then you could sense the stern tone in his voice. He did not mince his words and will fire away at those deemed responsible at point blank when he’s unhappy, especially in the current case of delays in the production and delivery of the MMEA’s three badly-needed offshore patrol vessels (OPV) to counter especially the China Coast Guard (CCG) menace in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Just to remind us all that while China has built tens of its coast guard cutters that have been cruising in our waters, the MMEA only has four vessels that are classified as true OPVs that can maintain station for almost a month to challenge the presence of CCG cutters. Two are thirty years old presents from the Japan Coast Guard, while the other two are vintage RMN OPVs that are a year short of being 40 years old!

The MMEA is also understaffed. It is still short of 700 personnel out of the 4,000 approved posts! This proves challenging for the MMEA as it is no longer facing traditional maritime crimes.

In the past, we dealt with ‘traditional’ criminal threats. But now there are smuggling of cigarettes and immigrants, which are linked to money laundering,” he said to reporters after his farewell parade.

As a leader, he made sure he understood the various tasks of each of MMEA’s departments. Each department was like an extension of his arms for him to achieve the objectives of the organisation as a whole. The 16th anniversary of the MMEA occurred during the pandemic, and a virtual celebration was planned. He wanted the public to be able to learn more about the MMEA while staying at home and visit its assets with just a few clicks of the button. This task was handed out to the Corporate Communications Unit, and Dato’ Zubil would sit next to the graphic designers, be with the production team, learning about their concept look-and-feel, and giving inputs. He allowed his men and women to develop their creativity without interfering.

He also insisted on finding out the risks the MMEA’s rescue swimmers face when performing rescues. He underwent a training and then got on board a helicopter to perform winching onto and off from a fast moving patrol craft, not static winching. It was a risky operation, but “Danger” seemed to be Dato’ Zubil’s middle name.

Last year, a political columnist took a swipe at the MMEA for “wasting taxpayers money” on a very much needed maritime exercise. What the writer did not understand was that the exercise gave the MMEA an opportunity to enhance interoperability between surface and air assets, as well as giving commanding officers and navigation officers the opportunity to hone as well as refresh their skills and knowledge. The writer had used the exercise to hit out at the then-Home Affairs minister for being the cause of the wastage.

Upon reading the article, Dato’ Zubil turned on a dime and summoned me who was about 50 meters away.

Kau tulis dan balun dia ni sikit. Dah lah tak faham tugas kita, dia nak pesongkan pandangan pembaca pula (write something to whack this writer back. He doesn’t understand anything about our job, and he has the cheek to skew the views of his readers),” he instructed me. There I was on the forecastle of the OPV KM Arau typing away on my mobile phone while helicopters and planes were buzzing overhead.

And as a leader, Dato’ Zubil made sure that the MMEA would get the best and be left with a competent leadership. He left his two protégés: Vice-Admiral (Maritime) Datuk Saiful Lizan bin Ibrahim, and Vice-Admiral (Maritime) Hamid bin Haji Mohd Amin. They are the MMEA’s Deputy Directors-General of Logistics and Operations respectively.

Dato’ Zubil was given an emotional send-off at the MMEA Headquarters yesterday. We lined up to shake hands with him and to bid him farewell. When it came to my turn, he hugged me and said, “Boss, thank you for all your help. Keep assisting the MMEA.”

Then he held my shoulder and we posed for the cameraman.

As his vehicle moved, he wound down his window and told everyone, “Remember! Always be the best. And the best never rest.”

Fair winds and following seas, Dato’. And thank you for your leadership, your trust and thank you for your friendship. Enjoy your last day in the service at home as it is a Saturday.

And happy 60th birthday tomorrow. May you enjoy many more birthdays in the company of your family. And as instructed, below is a photo of us.

A Brilliant Jigsaw Puzzle

Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang will begin its screening on 2 February 2023

“Not another military movie!”

That was a comment made by a critique when the first trailer of Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang (CGMOH) was released in December 2022. CGMOH is the third local action movie to be released in recent times, after PASKAL The Movie (PTM, 2018) and Air Force The Movie: Selagi Bernyawa (AFTMSB, 2022).

But the comment made above, isn’t far off. CGMOH is not about the military, as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) otherwise known as the Malaysia Coast Guard is not a military force. In Malaysia, the Coast Guard is a para-military, multi-mission, maritime force that offers a unique blend of military, law enforcement, humanitarian, regulatory, and diplomatic capabilities.

However, being a former military officer, I had to keep an open mind watching CGMOH as I did with PTM and AFTMSB. Had it been in the real world, CGMOH would have been a short movie. But it is a movie, and therefore it required me to look at it solely from an entertainment perspective. But if you’re looking for a movie that gives you the bang for your bucks, then CGMOH wins hands-down. The fight scenes were good, the villains were truly in character. The whole movie was action-packed and fast-paced from the opening sequence.

The movie allows you a glimpse into what the MMEA does best – to guard, to protect, and to save.

The late Pitt Hanif directed the movie, assisted by Sham Mokhtar as the Director of Photography, while Producer Arie Zaharie did a brilliant job putting all the shots and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together into a movie, without the presence of the movie’s director.

Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang will be available at a cinema near you from 2nd February 2023.

Is it better than PASKAL The Movie? Yes!

Is it better than Air Force the Movie: Selagi Bernyawa? Far better!

I enjoyed it. So, go watch it!


Dear NGO, 619km equals to 340 nautical miles

The article published by The Vibes that did not bother to question logic.

A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.

Anthony Liccione – American writer

Thus goes the saying.

The Vibes published the above article where an NGO has accused the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) of not taking any action to assist a boat filled with Rohingya undocumented migrants 619km from Langkawi, 388km from Ranong, Thailand, and 352km from Port Blair, India.

Yes, 619km from Langkawi.

Converting those figures to nautical miles, the boat is 340 nautical miles from Langkawi. Now, that is 140 nautical miles beyond Malaysia’s Maritime Zone which is a 200 nautical mile limit, which also means that the boat is 140 nautical miles beyond the MMEA’s jurisdiction.

It is also 12 nautical miles beyond Thailand’s maritime zone. But it is only 193 nautical miles from Port Blair.

So, which government should Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network’s Rohingya Working Group chairman Lilianne Fan be barking at? Would she like to hazard a guess?

Even if, for example, a passenger liner is in distress at that given location and the Captain of the liner activates the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), the signal would be picked up by one or more INMARSAT’s satellites, and based on the geographical location of the liner, the signal would be relayed to the nearest country’s maritime rescue coordination centre for response.

In other words, even though Malaysia is included inside the Maritime Search and Rescue Region (MSRR) where the boat with Rohingya undocumented migrants is, the signal would have been relayed to the rescue coordination centre of the Indian Coast Guard, located at the Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (Andaman and Nicobar) in Port Blair. NOT MALAYSIA.

If that logic has not sunken in, when your car breaks down on the North-South Highway near Sungkai, please call for a tow truck from Kota Bharu.

As for the comments by Médecins Sans Frontières, please know that the only ASEAN countries that have become States Parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol are the Philippines and Timor Leste. Malaysia is not a signatory. The last time Malaysia allowed refugees to land, Malaysians had to bear the socio-economic cost of housing 252,390 South Vietnamese refugees from 1977 through 1991. And during that period, 4,535 babies were born to these refugees.

Had there not been a rioting that razed the refugee camp in Sungai Besi, signatory nations would probably still drag their feet over the issue today.

It is sad that between 160 to 180 Rohingya undocumented migrants may be at risk of dying at sea after fleeing the refugee camp in Bangladesh where they had escaped persecution by Myanmar authorities. This may sound harsh, but they have escaped the atrocities in Myanmar when they fled to Bangladesh where they had protection in the refugee camps. Why is there a need to flee to Malaysia or Indonesia?

Had the NGOs concerned spent a little bit of time reading facts than barking up the wrong tree, the boat would probably still be closer to help from Port Blair, and not flounder about helplessly facing the perils at sea.

The Sea Is Vast

A MMEA personnel keeps a watch on the boat carrying 143 illegal immigrants near Kuala Kurau

A boat carrying 143 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, including 134 Rohingya, was detained by authorities after it ran aground on a sand bar six nautical miles off Kuala Kurau, Perak yesterday. Almost immediately criticisms were leveled especially at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and at other agencies for their failure to detect their presence in our waters.

Truth be told, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) are among the busiest sea lanes in the world. Because of the nature of the straits, they come under Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Even the borders overlap each other depending on whose chart you are looking at while an average of 274 commercial vessels ply through on a daily basis, 66 being container ships alone.

Therefore, maritime authorities of each country keep a close eye on these vessels for both security and safety reasons. The MMEA has an elaborate radar surveillance system deployed throughout the country. Suffice to say that nothing goes unnoticed especially in the Strait of Malacca.

So, how did a boat with 143 illegal immigrants got to within six nautical miles before they were detained?

Two weeks ago the MMEA commenced Op Khas Pagar Laut aimed at further tightening our maritime borders during the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri festive season. In just a week, the operations has resulted in 32 vessels being detained resulting in seizures worth around RM10.6 million. 66 crewmen from seven Vietnamese fishing boats and 16 illegal immigrants were arrested before the arrival of this batch of 143.

With the commencement of the operations, the dragnet in waters off Pulau Pinang, Kedah, Perlis and Langkawi which are the favourite arrival spots for Bangladeshi and Rohingya illegal immigrants is tightened and almost impossible to get through.

Now that the waters there are off-limits, human smugglers then have to plan to deposit their human cargo farther south. All they had to do was to sail south skirting close to our 12-nautical mile limit, assuming the right to innocent passage, to a point before the strait narrows where another dragnet to prevent smugglers and illegal immigrants from Indonesia from entering.

And as long as they traversed the sea without entering our territorial waters, prejudicing our peace, good order, welfare and safety, they had the right to innocent passage.

The authorities were alerted the moment they digressed from their track and breached our 12-nautical mile limit at 4am, making for Kuala Kurau. Sending a boat out to intercept them at this juncture would prove detrimental as these smugglers are not without land-based informers watching the authorities. It would have taken almost 20 minutes for the boat to be intercepted, and before that could happen the boat would have been informed and have made its way back beyond our waters.

It was wise of the authorities to have waited until the boat had reached a point of no return before going out to intercept, and the effort was made easier due to the grounding of the boat on a sandbar. This is called ‘working smartly.’

Of course it would have been better for the MMEA to just deny them entry into our waters. That way we do not have to spend taxpayers money on illegal immigrants. But the Agency suffers from two critical things: criticism of such action by our own people in the past, and the lack of assets to do so.

To protect our people at the beginning of the pandemic our security forces were instructed to repair boats of illegal immigrants, provision them with fuel, food and water and make sure they leave our waters. The policy was very necessary then as it would take a year more before we started our vaccination program. But we were heavily criticised by human rights groups and, sadly, a small but media-social influential group among our own people.

MMEA personnel from the Kuala Kurau Maritime Zone transfer drinking water to the boat carrying 143 illegal immigrants

We have never been without a heart. As mentioned, we provided these boats with enough fuel, food and water to last them more than a month, and even facilitated repairs. And because we have a heart we now have to spend another RM5,800 a day for food for the 143 recently-arrived illegal immigrants on top of the RM6.3 million that we spend daily just for food for the other 158,000. That comes to RM190 million a month on meals.

That amount equals to 3,386 PPRT homes for the low-income group – per month. And we spend that much on illegal immigrants. I have not factored in medical treatment costs, lodging, utilities and other costs as well. But that is okay as long as we satisfy a small group of people who champion the rights of illegal immigrants.

The MMEA has been operating for 17 years with limited resources because lawmakers in the Parliament do not understand the law they passed to create the MMEA. The government also lacks the political will to enforce this Act. As a result, the Agency now suffers from limited budget as it has to share whatever limited resources that has been given, with the 11 maritime-related agencies that should have been dissolved with the formation of the MMEA. Majority of its patrol boats are more than 40 years old.

In terms of waters to cover, each of the MMEA’s 180 small patrol boats has a 180 sq km to patrol while each of the 70 larger vessels cover 5,675 sq km.

In short, each of the 4,500 men and women of the MMEA has 124 sq km of waters to guard, protect and save.

In spite of that, in its 17-year existence the MMEA has contributed more than RM2.7 billion to the government’s coffers in terms of seizures, saved more than 10,000 lives and RM650 million worth in assets. It has to protect the same area that the Royal Malaysian Navy has to which is 556,285 sq km. Yet, the Royal Malaysian Navy received RM1.6 billion last year while the MMEA received only a fraction of that.

Therefore, given the dire limitations that the MMEA has and compare this to its achievements, the MMEA is a force to be reckoned with, thus should be supported in its never-ending struggle to acquire more assets and train more men and women in order to become a better organisation.

Imagine what it could become with the RM2.3 billion we spend a year feeding illegal immigrants had the amount been given to the MMEA instead.

The boat carrying 143 illegal immigrants coming alongside the Kuala Kurau jetty

Kenapa APMM Pula Yang Dipersalahkan?

Rondaan malam menguatkuasakan perintah berkurung di perairan ESSZONE

Kita mulakan artikel hari ini dengan sedikit matematik mudah.

Kalau kita buat pengiraan kasar, Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) mempunyai sekitar 250 buah aset permukaan laut, termasuk 70 buah yang boleh dikategorikan sebagai kapal yang sebahagiannya adalah hibah daripada agensi-agensi kerajaan yang berusia di antara 20 hingga 40 tahun. Baki 180 buah aset permukaan laut adalah bot-bot ronda laju kecil yang sudah semestinya tidak mempunyai ketahanan (endurance) yang jauh di laut.

Keluasan perairan negara pula berjumlah 556,285 kilometer persegi. Daripada jumlah tersebut perairan laut lepas yang bermula dari sempadan laut wilayah 12 batu nautika hingga ke pelantar benua termasuk Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif ialah 397,118 kilometer persegi. Baki 159,167 kilometer persegi selebihnya merupakan perairan dalaman dan perairan wilayah.

Sekarang kita lihat pula penyata rasmi mesyuarat pertama Dewan Rakyat Parlimen Kesebelas, Penggal Pertama bertarikh 14 Jun 2004 mengenai penubuhan APMM itu sendiri. Dewan telah dimaklumkan oleh Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri ketika itu bahawa APMM ditubuhkan untuk menggantikan penguatkuasaan maritim oleh 11 buah agensi kerajaan seperti Polis DiRaja Malaysia cawangan Marin, Jabatan Perikanan, Jabatan Imigresen dan lain-lain, untuk menamatkan masalah pertindihan kawasan, fungsi dan bidang kuasa kesebelas buah agensi tersebut.

Dewan juga dimaklumkan bahawa bagi permulaan penubuhan, aset-aset dan anggota kesebelas agensi kerajaan tersebut akan diserahkan kepada APMM dan tidak lagi menjalankan fungsi penguatkuasaan undang-undang negara di laut. Ini bermakna APMM ketika itu bakal memulakan fungsinya dengan penyerapan hampir 5,000 orang anggota dan 400 buah aset permukaan laut. Dengan penubuhan APMM, agensi-agensi tersebut tidak perlu lagi membuat perolehan aset-aset permukaan laut.

Namun, setelah wujud selama 17 tahun 2 bulan, APMM masih hanya mempunyai keanggotaan lebih kurang 4,500 orang termasuk kakitangan sokongan dan 250 buah aset permukaan laut. Cawangan Marin 11 agensi-agensi yang sepatutnya diambil alih oleh APMM masih membuat perolehan aset permukaan laut dan mengekalkan perjawatan-perjawatan mereka. Ini bermakna sumber kewangan kerajaan untuk APMM membuat perolehan besar-besaran serta penambahan perjawatan masih menjadi impian yang tidak tercapai kerana lemahnya kerajaan itu sendiri dalam memenuhi kehendak Akta yang ianya sendiri luluskan di dalam Dewan pada hari tersebut.

Kita lihat semula jumlah aset APMM yang sedia ada. Untuk jarak laut wilayah berkeluasan 159,167 kilometer persegi tadi, setiap daripada 180 buah bot ronda kecil tadi mempunyai kawasan tanggung jawab seluas 890 kilometer persegi atau kawasan berupa kotak yang mempunyai 29.83 kilometer panjang darab depa 29.83 kilometer juga.

29.83 kilometer adalah hampir lapan kilometer melebihi jangkauan penglihatan kita di permukaan laut. Sekiranya anda berdiri di tepi pantai, jarak di antara anda dengan ufuk yang kelihatan hanyalah sejauh 22 kilometer (12 batu nautika).

Boleh atau tidak anda bayangkan sebuah bot ronda kurang dari 40 kaki (12 meter) dengan tiada bekalan air, dapur memasak, tempat tidur, melakukan rondaan hampir 1,000 kilometer persegi setiap hari? Hakikatnya, para pegawai dan anggota bot-bot ronda kecil ini berada di laut dan dilambung ombak selama seharian dan semalaman sebelum perlu pulang ke jeti untuk ulang bekal, termasuk kerana makanan yang dibekalkan sejak mula buat rondaan telah basi.

Untuk tanggungjawab membuat rondaan laut lepas Zon Maritim Malaysia seluas 397,118 kilometer persegi yang digalas oleh 70 buah aset besar berusia di antara 20 hingga 40 tahun pula, setiap aset perlu awasi kawasan tanggung jawab seluas 5,675 kilometer persegi. Kapal-kapal ronda pelbagai jenis ini mempunyai ketahanan di laut yang berbeza-beza di antara 5 hari ke 20 hari mengikut saiz dan jenis, sebelum perlunya ulang bekal dilakukan.

Dengan kekangan-kekangan dari segi aset, keanggotaan dan kewangan yang dihadapi APMM, dalam tahun 2021 sahaja ia telah membuat sebanyak 183 tangkapan di bawah Akta Imigresen 1959/63 dan lima tangkapan di bawah Akta Pemerdagangan Manusia dan Anti Penyeludupan Migran (ATIPSOM) 2007.

Sebelum-sebelum ini memang warga asing termasuk kaum Rohingya sememangnya giat mencari jalan untuk masuk ke dalam negara. Kita lihat statistik penangkapan oleh APMM seperti berikut:

2018 – 531 orang ditahan; 2019 – 745 orang ditahan; 2020 – 896 orang ditahan; 2021 – 397 orang ditahan.

Jumlah yang ditahan dalam tahun 2021 menurun dengan mendadak kerana APMM membuat tindakan menghalau keluar pendatang asing tanpa izin (PATI) dan kaum Rohingya semasa di laut lagi untuk elakkan penularan wabak COVID-19 yang bakal dibawa masuk.

Maka, adalah amat menghairankan apabila penganalisis jenayah Datuk Shahul Hamid Abdul Rahim membuat dakwaan bahawa lebih ramai PATI yang lolos masuk ke dalam negara berbanding 30 hingga 45 yang ditahan di sempadan negara setiap hari. Beliau menyalahkan APMM di atas perkara tersebut.

Saya tidak tahu dari mana beliau perolehi statistik beliau tetapi beliau membuat andaian bahawa PATI yang menceroboh perairan negara adalah lebih bijak kerana menggunakan bot yang diacu enjin 200 kuasa kuda jikalau tahu APMM gunakan bot 100 kuasa kuda.

Pertama sekali, enjin bot bukanlah sesuatu yang murah. Sebuah enjin luar (outboard motor) 350 kuasa kuda berharga sekitar RM250,000 sebuah. Bot-bot ronda laju APMM pun kesemuanya mempunyai daya paling kurang 1,000 kuasa kuda.

Kedua, pedagang dan penyeludup migran tidak menggunakan bot laju berkuasa tinggi kerana kos pengoperasian sahaja tidak berbaloi dengan jumlah PATI yang boleh di bawa oleh sebuah bot laju. Kos minyak petrol untuk menyeberang Selat Melaka sahaja sudah melebihi kemampuan para PATI dan jumlah orang yang boleh dibawa oleh bot laju tidak ramai. Sebab itu pedagang dan penyeludup migran lebih gemar gunakan bot-bot seperti tongkang besar yang berenjin disel, lebih tahan ombak besar, perlahan tetapi boleh membawa muatan PATI yang ramai.

Bot laju berkuasa besar biasanya hanya akan digunakan oleh penjenayah seperti penyeludup barangan bernilai tinggi seperti dadah, dan bukannya PATI.

Di pesisir pantai timur Sabah pula (ESSZONE), perintah berkurung berkuat kuasa di perairan bermula jam 6 petang hingga 6 pagi. Sebarang bot yang bergerak di antara waktu-waktu tersebut boleh dikenakan tindakan termasuk kekerasan melampau. Setakat pemerhatian saya (semasa menulis saya berada di kawasan ESSZONE) tidak ada satu bot pun yang kelihatan atau kedengaran selepas jam 6 petang kecuali bot-bot pasukan keselamatan.

Jangan lupa bahawa satu lagi aset milik APMM iaitu Sistem Pengawasan Laut Maritim Malaysia (SWASLA) banyak memainkan peranan pengesanan awal pencerobohan sempadan maritim Malaysia. Sistem ini juga digunakan untuk membolehkan lain-lain agensi di bawah National Task Force (NTF) yang melaksanakan Op Benteng untuk membanteras kegiatan menceroboh sempadan perairan negara.

Saya percaya kenyataan Shahul Hamid lebih merupakan serkap jarang kerana menunjukkan ketidak fahaman beliau dalam memperhalusi isu ini dan tidak berlandaskan fakta mahupun logik.

Sekarang, kita lihat semula bot ronda laju APMM yang setiap sebuah perlu menjaga kawasan rondaan berukuran 29.83 kilometer darab 29.83 kilometer (16 batu nautika darab 16 batu nautika).

Sekiranya bot PATI berkelajuan 10 knot (18 kmj) dikesan berada pada kedudukan 16 batu nautika dari kedudukan bot APMM tersebut, masa yang diperlukan oleh sebuah bot APMM yang berkelajuan 40 knot (72 kmj) untuk memintas bot PATI tersebut ialah 30 minit (kerana bot PATI tersebut masih bergerak).

Maka, untuk mengurangkan jumlah masa untuk melakukan pintasan yang lebih efektif ialah dengan mengurangkan jarak kawasan rondaan bot APMM tersebut? Bukankah aset yang lebih akan dapat kurangkan saiz kawasan rondaan?

Jika benar, bukankah tanggungjawab kerajaan untuk memastikan APMM memperolehi aset dan anggota yang mencukupi? Sekiranya kewangan menjadi punca, kenapa 11 buah agensi yang sepatutnya digantikan oleh APMM masih beroperasi?

Sekarang kita pulangkan persoalan ini kepada pihak berwajib.

Know Your Place

The Johor State Constitution governs everything about the running of the state

TWO things are often mentioned by Umno hardliners when asked about the grand old party’s traits. One is that it is united; two is that it is one with the palace.

Nothing could be farther than the truth.

The Barisan Nasional’s second thumping victory was followed by several hours of bragging rights. Only DAP was able to look at its wounds and lick them. 

The rest of the Pakatan Harapan coalition members were literally pulverised. Even Perikatan Nasional, the coalition with which some quarters within Umno describe as having an uneasy coalition, was pummelled into the ground.

Among the things claimed by Umno was that it won because it could name its next and 19th Menteri Besar for Johor – Datuk Seri Utama Haji Hasni bin Mohammad.

Hasni was Johor’s 18th Menteri Besar, whose tenure was known for its stability despite having a razor-thin margin over the state’s opposition. Hasni treated all 56 assemblymen equally and even provided equal allocations, other than being a model inclusive leader. Naturally voters would want the same formula to be continued. 

The result was the 40-seat victory for Barisan Nasional last Saturday.

Then came the shocking news: the palace wanted another name as the next Menteri Besar – Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi. 

The 43-year old is the great-great grandson of Johor’s first Menteri Besar, Datuk Jaafar bin Haji Muhammad, and grandson of the 3rd Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Hussein bin Datuk Onn.

And what usually comes after shock? Denial, followed by anger. And when Umno supporters get angry, they become irrational, and the anger is then directed towards the Istana for what they deem as “meddling’. But was the palace meddling?

The way I see it is that Umno had committed a mistake by naming a Menteri Besar, turning him into a poster boy, ahead of the palace. As a grand old party, Umno should have known better than to usurp the constitutional right of the Sultan.

Article 3 (1) of the Johor State Constitution (Part 2) states that the Ruler shall appoint in writing, a qualified Malay and Muslim Menteri Besar who meets the prerequisites Article 4 (2) (1) of the said Constitution. This in turn states that the person to become the Menteri Besar has to be a member of the Dewan who, in the Ruler’s judgment, commands the most support of members of the Dewan.

It clearly states there that the prerogative to appoint a Menteri Besar is the prerogative of the Ruler. This is replicated on the Federal level by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when appointing a Prime Minister (and Chief Ministers, as delegated to the governors). The Ruler is the Chief Executive Officer of the  nation/state while the PM and MB are the Chief Operating Officers. Ours is not a government by the people and for the people. We are not the United States of America.

The PM/MBs are then given the executive powers to administer the Federal/respective State governments on behalf of the Rulers, save for a few provisions, including the choosing and appointing of prime ministers and menteris besar which remain as royal prerogatives. As a word of caution, these prerogatives come with fundamental principles.

The Federal/State Constitution is supreme. Where there is conflict between the Constitution and the royal prerogative, the Constitution prevails. The royal prerogative remains subject to the duties of fairness and reason. And although the prerogatives can be abolished or abrogated, they can only be done with the expressed permission of the Rulers Council.

And Johor isn’t the only state in recent times where the palace has rejected the winning party’s choice of a state COO. Perlis rejected Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim in 2008 and named Md Isa Sabu instead. 

This had put the former at loggerheads with the palace that led to Shahidan’s brother getting rejected in 2018.

Terengganu rejected Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh in 2008, and we saw some banners carried by palace friendly Umno supporters equating the Ruler to animals. Selangor rejected Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in 2014 as its Menteri Besar to replace Khalid Ibrahim as a result of the “Kajang move”; A year before that, the nomination of Datu Husam Musa as a state executive councillor was rejected by the Kelantan palace.

What then is our duty during an election?

Our only duty is to choose, from amongst us, those whom we believe can represent us well in His Majesty’s government. As such, when we complain about stupid politicians having made it into the august house, we only have ourselves as voters to blame. 

We put them there, or we did not do enough to prevent them from getting there.

Therefore, coming back to Johor’s predicament, the Ruler has chosen the person who, in the Ruler’s judgment, has the most support of the members of Johor’s Dewan. 

Although there is a move by Umno that allegedly has collected 38 signatures from its elected members to support Hasni as Umno’s choice of the incoming MB, that really shows that UMNO or whoever it is behind that move, does not know its or his place. Even Hasni has come out to tell everyone to give this opportunity to his younger successor.

Looking at the bigger picture, the choice of a younger MB for Johor is apt at this juncture given that it is Johor that will ascend the throne of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in January of 2024. 

The Tunku Mahkota of Johor will be acting as the Regent during that period. A young MB will not only be able to match the dynamics of a young Ruler, but also reduces the chances of a senior and more experienced politician who might think that he knows better than the Ruler.

If Umno really has the balls and thinks that it can do without the Ruler’s support and try the Johor’s voters’ resolve, its elected representatives can perhaps try to stage a walkout when Onn Hafiz is being sworn-in to show that he does not have their support.

(This article was first published by The Mole

Bila Radio Karat Berbunyi

Eksesais Maritim Perkasa 2022 menguji kecekapan kerjasama di antara unit-unit di bawah Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM)

Bila kita bercerita mengenai pasukan keselamatan dan angkatan tentera, acap kali akan kedengaran suara-suara sumbang yang mempersoalkan sama ada bentuk pengoperasian mahupun perolehan aset-aset pasukan-pasukan tersebut.

Terkini merupakan cuitan bekas Timbalan Ketua Pengarang Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan, dalam ruangan Cuit…Zaini Hassan.

Dalam ruangan tersebut beliau telah mempersoalkan tindakan APMM yang dikatakan boros kerana menggerakkan aset-aset ke luar kawasan semata-mata untuk menyambut Hari Ulangtahun APMM Ke-17 pada 15 Februari 2022.

Sebanyak 10 buah kapal peronda, 5 buah aset udara dan 7 buah bot pemintas telah digerakkan ke luar pesisir pantai negeri Selangor.

Kata Zaini, beliau bimbang dengan “ketiadaan” kapal-kapal seperti KM Pekan dan KM Arau di kawasan masing-masing, sindiket penyeludupan migran dan pendatang asing akan menggunakan peluang itu untuk membolosi perairan negara.

Malah, kata beliau lagi, lebih membimbangkan ialah penyusupan elemen-elemen yang tidak dikehendaki, terutamanya dari selatan Filipina.

Zaini hanya membincangkan mengenai sambutan Hari Ulangtahun yang kononnya meriah itu. Hari yang diberi tumpuannya itu hanyalah satu hari dari sejumlah lapan hari aset-aset tersebut diaturgerak, dan adalah hari terakhir sebuah latihan menguji kecekapan para anggota dan aset-aset APMM yang diberi nama Eksesais Maritim Perkasa.

Eksesais yang dimulakan dengan Tabletop Exercise seharian dan enam hari latihan-latihan di laut yang menguji kecekapan pengendalian pesawat, bot pemintas dan kapal-kapal peronda dalam beberapa situasi termasuk memadam kebakaran kapal, operasi anti-lanun, pendaratan helikopter di geladak kapal serta pendaratan pesawat sayap kaku di laut untuk mengambil air bagi tujuan memadamkan kebakaran.

Ianya juga memberi peluang buat komander-komander muda kapal-kapal peronda serta pegawai navigasi dan pegawai komunikasi berlatih cara-cara untuk mengkoordinasikan kapal peronda masing-masing dengan lain-lain kapal peronda dan aset-aset udara.

Kesemua latihan di atas bukannya boleh dilakukan ikut suka hati semasa menjalankan tugas-tugas harian. Contoh: KM Arau yang berpangkalan di pantai barat Sabah. Lokasinya yang jauh dari aset-aset udara yang berpangkalan di Semenanjung. Jika latihan ini tidak diadakan, maka anggota geladak penerbangan kapal tersebut akan tumpul pengetahuan mereka, manakala anggota yang baharu langsung tidak berpeluang untuk memperbaharui dan mempertingkatkan pengetahuan mereka dalam operasi pelbagai aset.

Itu baru satu contoh. Banyak contoh-contoh lain yang memberi manfaat besar kepada para anggota APMM terlibat yang boleh saya ceritakan. Pokok-pangkalnya, di sinilah peluang untuk APMM mengenalpasti kelemahan prosedur dan pengetahuan, dan memperbaikinya dalam taklimat oleh Pengarah Eksesais untuk semua komander selepas latihan setiap hari.

“Kehilangan” sebanyak 10 buah kapal dari lapangan rondaan masing-masing sebenarnya tidak memberi kesan terhadap keselamatan negara. APMM mempunyai 70 buah kapal peronda dan hampir 200 buah bot pemintas.

Pembolosan perairan oleh pendatang Rohingya yang berlaku tidak lama dahulu bukannya disebabkan mereka berjaya memperbodohkan APMM, tetapi bot mereka karam di luar perairan dan mereka berenang ke pulau-pulau yang berhampiran dengan Pulau Langkawi.

Bagi pendatang atau pengganas yang cuba menyusup masuk dari Selatan Filipina ke perairan timur Sabah, mungkin penulis tersebut lupa bahawa kawasan timur Sabah adalah di bawah pengawasan ESSCOM dan bukannya di bawah APMM semata-mata. Mungkin faktor usia sebab tak mungkin beliau ini suka-suka mereka-reka cerita.

Agak musykil hanya apa yang digambarkan sebagai kelemahan yang dicanangkan seolah-olah untuk menghasut rakyat membenci APMM. Kenapa tidak diceritakan juga pencapaian agensi tersebut?

Sepanjang tahun 2021, APMM telah membuat hampir 212,000 pemeriksaan ke atas kapal-kapal dan bot-bot. 26,000 penggeledahan dibuat di mana lebih 1,100 tangkapan dibuat. Ini membawa hasil sebanyak RM46 juta daripada denda dan kompaun, RM6 juta hasil lelongan dan RM55 juta nilai barangan yang dirampas. Ada penulis tersebut ceritakan perihal ini?

Berbalik kepada Eksesais Maritim Perkasa, APMM mengambil kesempatan untuk adakan latihan ini hampir kepada hari ulangtahunnya supaya hari terakhir latihan jatuh pada hari ulangtahunnya. Ini membolehkan APMM mempertontonkan keupayaannya kepada pihak media yang dijemput hadir. Ini bertujuan untuk memperkukuhkan kepercayaan rakyat terhadap agensi yang menjaga kedaulatan wilayah maritim negara ini.

Paling penting, dengan menyambut hari ulangtahunnya semasa latihan dijalankan mengurangkan kos sambutan berbanding dengan sekiranya kos sambutan hari ulangtahun terpaksa diadakan secara berasingan. Dalam prinsip peperangan, ini dinamakan economy of effort.

Susah kalau setiap perkara yang baik itu dilihat secara negatif tanpa mengetahui tujuan perkara itu diadakan. Sepatutnya kita lebih berfikiran terbuka dan bukannya jumud seperti ini, apatah lagi sebagai seorang Islam yang beriman dengan Al-Quran, kerana selaras dengan surah Al-Anfal ayat 60, di mana Allah S.W.T. mengingatkan supaya kita kita sentiasa bersiap sedia bagi menghadapi musuh-musuh, menurut kemampuan dengan segala kekuatan dan barisan kuda (menurut keadaan zaman) bagi menakutkan musuh Allah dan musuh-musuh kita serta musuh-­musuh yang kita tidak ketahui.

Orang bukan Islam pun percayakan konsep persediaan untuk berperang melalui kata-kata dalam bahasa Latin iaitu si vis pacem, para bellum (jika anda inginkan keamanan, bersedialah untuk berperang).

Oleh itu, elok kalau bekas Timbalan Ketua Pengarang Utusan Malaysia tersebut rajin bertanya-tanya, dapatkan kepastian sebelum tembak melulu seperti Red Indian dapat senapang.

Sesungguhnya, malu bertanya sesat jalan, malu berkayuh perahu hanyut. Jangan marah, ya! Kita pun boleh cuit juga.

The Men of Keluarga Malaysia

Khairy Jamaluddin and Hamzah Zainuddin

MANY still think that when we went to vote on  May 9 2018, it was to vote in a government for the people by the people based on the political party the majority of whom had won the people’s confidence. 

This is due to the Alliance, and subsequently Barisan Nasional, being in power virtually unchallenged for 61 years, with two-thirds majority for the most part of it.

Three prime ministers later we know that that is not entirely true – that we voted in individuals no matter the party, those whom we think would be best to represent us in His Majesty’s government.

This government administers the nation on behalf of His Majesty, and leading its members is the Member of Parliament who has the greatest support, a constitutional concept that had become alien because of BN’s past political dominance.

It may not be the government that some voters want. It may not be the perfect government. Neither side of the political fence wants this government to work, and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri is not the choice of PM that his own party would like to have.

But this is the government that has the confidence of His Majesty, and this isthe face of the future for as long as no one political coalition has two-thirds majority in Parliament.

We can see who have been working in Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s administration, who have been shadow playing, and who are the deadbeats. 

Only two have caught my eye. They are, to me, those who work for the Keluarga Malaysia concept.

Datuk Seri Hamzah  Zainudin

This former Umno minister is seen by his former party as a traitor for jumpingship seven months after the BN administration fell. Datuk Seri Hamzah did not hold any ministerial post during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

He was made the Home Affairs Minister during the Muhyiddin Yassin administration and has continued holding this portfolio since.

Apart from the episode with former IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, there is very little noise regarding Hamzah. From the Muhyiddin administration Hamzah is seen doing his job as the Home Affairs Minister, even taking a different route compared to his predecessors. 

For instance, working hand-in-hand with Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan, Hamzah has done away with the need for third-party involvement in legalising illegal immigrants for selected industries. This greatly reduces corrupt acts involved in the process of registering these workers as we have seen in the past.

His penchant for “seeing things for himself” has allowed him to assist government agencies and departments under his Ministry in providing the best of services directly to the people. 

Immediately after the landslide tragedy in Yan, Kedah last year, as well as after the recent floods, he urged the Royal
Malaysian Police, the National Registration Department, as well as the Immigration Department to deploy their mobile police station and counters to enable victims who have lost their personal documents to make police reports and obtain new personal documents without having to travel tens of miles to get things done. And these services were provided for free for the victims. Such initiatives augured well with the people.

Interesting to note is that when he went to visit victims to present aid, he did not drown himself in self-promotion exercise like other politicians would.

Instead, he chose to portray himself as representing the Prime Minister and the Keluarga Malaysia initiative. What this demonstrates is his political maturity in putting aside political and party differences in order to fulfil his duty as a Minister in His Majesty’s Government, chosen by a Prime Minister who is from a different political coalition.

Hamzah may be the Secretary-General for Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional, but I view him as a strategist who knows when to fight it out when needed so, but also when to put self-political interest aside to make sure that the government that he is a part of, truly works for the people.

Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar

Many would disagree with me over this choice, especially those in Umno who see him as one of those who was against  Datuk Seri Najib Razak before the previous general election. Ten years ago, I would not write this too, but I have to look at things objectively since I do not belong to any political party.

Khairy is seen as ambitious. Those at the top are eager to see his political career end. Even Umno’s No.2 Datuk Seri  Mohamad Hasan, otherwise known as Tok Mat, has already announced his plan to contest in Khairy’s parliamentary seat of Rembau, leaving the latter with nowhere to go in Negeri Sembilan.

If it is true that Umno is eager to bury Khairy, then the Grand Old Party is just that – grand by resting on its laurels and old; the bitter lessons of GE14 very quickly forgotten. It is a party with 3.35 million members that had failed to hold on to its power in 2018 despite its size – all because it could not read the sentiments on the ground.

When Umno and the Barisan Nasional fell out of favour with the voters, I had expected to see Khairy jump ship. I would have lost some money had I bet on that. Instead, Khairy did not budge. Even as he was ridiculed by those from within his party, Khairy held on and played his role as an Opposition MP. I looked at the Internet to see what people said of him then and immediately knew that many wished Khairy was not from Umno.

Then, Covid-19 hit our shores. A month and a half later the Pakatan Harapan fell and Khairy was made Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation in the Muhyiddin administration. He was tasked with spearheading and managing the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme or PICK, sometime doling out more than half a million doses of vaccines a day nationwide.

He was also spotted at vaccination centres several times helping the volunteers registering vaccine recipients.

As of Jan 19 2022, PICK has fully-vaccinated almost 80 percent of the population and almost 31 percent have received their booster dose.

Now as the Health Minister in the Ismail Sabri administration, Khairy goes down to government hospitals and clinics unannounced to see for himself the problems health front-liners face on a daily basis, especially situations exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only that, he also faces the public every now and then, and allow them to vent out at him.

Again, praises from the normal Janes and Joes drown noises made by detractors – those from within his own party, and the anti-vaxxers. Even so, Khairy continues to soldier on undistracted. His record speaks for himself. As at Jan 20 2022, the death rate in Malaysia compared to unvaccinated people is 25 times lower for those fully vaccinated and 148 times lower for those who have received their booster dose. Now in a true Keluarga Malaysia style, Khairy is concentrating on vaccinating children between the age of five and 12.

Umno has to realise that it is not going to be party members that will win them the next general election, but the support of the ordinary voters who vote based on what they now like in a candidate rather than the party symbols that the candidate represent.

Both Hamzah and Khairy are politicians who work for the people that you would wish to see more of in the future, instead of going back to what was before. My only wish is that all the ministers that we have now are of the same calibre.

(This article first appeared on The Mole )

An Apology Does Not Equal Exoneration

MANY asked me about Tun Haniff Omar’s apology to Lim Kit Siang as read from an agreed text made in the court yesterday.

The apology was made for a remark made in a forum organised by Sinar Harian that the Member of Parliament was responsible for and had the intention to direct DAP to separate or divide Peninsular Malaysia into two parts based on race, and intended to sow discord between the Malay and Chinese communities.

Malay apologists were quick to jump the gun claiming that Malaysians had been duped into thinking that Kit Siang was involved in inciting the various races in the country that led to the May 13 tragedy.

The apology was not about that at all.

Let me reiterate in all fairness, that Lim Kit Siang did not utter those said words.

I was made to understand that they were the words of another politician who was also arrested for sedition after the tragedy, as was Lim Kit Siang who was arrested for other reasons.

When the movie Tanda Putera was shown, many pro-Malay bloggers said it was Lim Kit Siang who was involved in a scene depicting a group of non-Malays who urinated at the base of a flag pole.

I wrote on my blog that that scene did not involve Kit Siang, as he was arrested in Kota Kinabalu and was not in Kuala Lumpur when that and the rioting happened.

In fact, it was almost two months to the day of the tragedy that Kit Siang was arrested under Section 11(2)(b) of the Internal Security Act, 1960 for six offences under the Act ranging from 27 July 1968 in Tanjung Malim where he claimed that the education policy was designed to achieve an eventual extermination of Chinese newspapers, Chinese schools and Chinese languages, to an incident on May 13 1969 at a rally at Kampung Air in Kota Kinabalu where he said that the government was trying to have a Malay Malaysia by dividing the people into bumiputera and non-bumiputer, that “the Malays were first class Bumiputera” and that the government was carrying out a policy of “Malaysiation” of Sabah whereby all top post were held by the Malays.

He was also alleged to have stirred anti-Malay and anti-Islamic religious feelings by telling the audience at Kampung Air that the government was pursuing the policy of exploitation by Malays of other races and that the government, by holding an International Islamic Conference in Kuala Lumpur, had intended to send Malaysian citizens to die in the Middle East in order to capture Jerusalem for the Muslim World (Jerusalem was captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War).

Kit Siang had only offered explanations for the inciting speeches he made, but I never saw any apology made for saying those things.

So, no. Yesterday’s apology should not be misconstrued into an exoneration of Lim Kit Siang’s guilt of fanning the sentiments that led to the May13 1969 tragedy.

It was only to underscore the fact that Kit Siang did not utter those words and was arrested because of that as mentioned by Tun Haniff.

(this article first appeared on The Mole )

Farewell Uncle Zaman

The fish head curry group in August 2020

Our fish head curry group that consists of former senior police officers and security practitioners have lost a very iconic member today. Tan Sri Datuk Mohd Zaman Khan bin Rahim Khan (4th from right), former Director of Criminal Investigation of the Royal Malaysian Police, and former Director-General of the Prisons Department has left us peacefully all at 10.15am.

The country has lost an iconic hero who was always on the literal front line as a crime buster. When he was the Kuala Lumpur traffic chief (1972-74), instead of directing and controlling traffic at a crime scene, he was the one who raided the criminals before the actual raiding party arrived. Soon after, he was made the Officer-in-Charge of Criminal Investigations (OCCI) of Selangor.

Tan Sri Zaman Khan loved his fish head curry, and we’d always gather on a quarterly basis at the Restoran ZK in Kampung Attap. We even said that ZK stands for Zaman Khan. This photo was taken last year in August when we could still dine-in in groups, and was the last time we gathered with him. We were just planning to have another gathering as soon as he’d be discharged from IJN.

When he was hospitalised at the Nephrology Ward HKL, my wife and I spent a couple of hours with him. We spoke about those days back in the 1970s and 1980s, but he literally lit up when talking about food. He was always a foodie.

He was a very close family friend. I knew him since I was 9. We used to go on holiday trips together. My father has lost a brother, while I have lost a father figure. We’d always talk about him visiting the kebun again soon, since he used to join us back in the mid 1970s.

Our condolences to his widow Aunty Rosnah and children Anna, Kimi, Lily, Abe and Aya, sons and daughters-in law, and grandchildren whom he loved so much. May Allah SWT continuously shower his soul with His blessings and love and place him amongst the righteous. This is a very sad day for me indeed.

Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un.