Maritim Malaysia: Meredah Ombak Yang Mencabar

KM Bagan Datuk – salah sebuah aset Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) yang memelihara kedaulatan negara tanpa mengira cabaran yang dihadapi

Seramai 24 orang pendatang asing tanpa izin (PATI) ditahan di Teluk Ramunia. Seorang nelayan hilang dan ditemui mati di perairan Kudat, Sabah. Belum sampai penghujung bulan, sejak 1 November 2020 hingga semalam, sebanyak 173 bot nelayan asing (BNA) dari Indonesia telah diusir oleh Maritim Malaysia negeri Perak berhampiran Pulau Jarak. Sebuah kapal Pengawal Pantai China (CCG) Zhongguo Haijing 5402 telah mengganggu sebuah kapal penggerudian minyak serta kapal-kapal bekalannya hanya 44 batu nautika dari pesisir pantai negeri Sarawak. Tiga orang anggota Pasukan Gerakan Am (PGA) Polis DiRaja Malaysia ditembak oleh kumpulan penyeludup dalam dua insiden di sempadan Thai mengakibatkan seorang anggota berpangkat Koperal maut.

Demikianlah rangkuman insiden-insiden diperbatasan yang telah dilaporkan dalam tempoh seminggu ini. Insiden-insiden ini merupakan di antara cabaran-cabaran yang dihadapi oleh agensi-agensi kerajaan terutamanya APMM dalam menentukan sempadan perairan, kedaulatan negara, serta keselamatan komuniti di laut adalah selamat.

Turut berada di perbatasan perairan negara ialah Kapal Maritim Bagan Datuk serta 29 orang anak kapalnya yang dinakhodai oleh Leftenan Komander (Maritim) Nik Mohd Rizam bin Nik Mohd Fauzi, yang meronda di Sektor 6, Selat Melaka. KM Bagan Datuk disokong oleh bot-bot pemintas dari Maritim Negeri Melaka & Negeri Sembilan. Kapal ronda generasi baru sepanjang 45 meter yang ditauliahkan pada 15 Mac 2017 bertindak sebagai kapal induk untuk operasi-operasi pemintasan yang dilakukan oleh bot-bot pemintas di sektor tersebut.

Kehadiran BNA Indonesia di perairan Pulau Jarak bukanlah sesuatu yang boleh dipandang ringan dan remeh oleh umum. Sekiranya dibiarkan atas sebab budi-bicara ataupun atas dasar jiran-tetangga, ianya boleh menjejaskan kedaulatan negara. Kita ambil contoh tuntutan Malaysia dan Singapura ke atas Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) di mana Perjanjian Inggeris-Belanda, 1824 menamatkan kerajaan Johor-Pahang-Riau-Linggi. Di bawah Perkara XII perjanjian tersebut, tidak ada satu pun pertubuhan British dibenarkan di atas pulau-pulau Karimun, Batam, Bintan, Lingga dan pulau-pulau ke selatan Singapura, manakala pulau-pulau serta batuan-batuan di dalam Selat Singapura menjadi milik kerajaan Kesultanan Johor yang baharu.

Sebuah rumah api didirikan oleh Syarikat Hindia-Timur British (HEIC) di Pulau Batu Putih dalam bulan Jun 1850 dan mula beroperasi pada 15 Oktober 1851. Ianya dioperasikan oleh Lembaga Pelabuhan Singapura yang menjadi sebahagian dari Malaysia. Namun, apabila Singapura dikeluarkan daripada Persekutuan Malaysia pada 9 Ogos 1965, tiada sebarang tindakan diambil oleh pihak kerajaan Malaysia untuk mengoperasikan rumah api tersebut.

Hanya apabila pada 21 Disember 1979 Pengarah Pemetaan Malaysia keluarkan sebuah peta yang menunjukkan Pulau Batu Putih sebagai hakmilik Malaysia, kerajaan Singapura keluarkan bantahan. Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) memutuskan walaupun Kesultanan Johor memiliki Pulau Batu Putih, Batuan Tengah dan Batuan Selatan, namun tidak ada mana-mana pihak dari Malaysia ataupun Johor mengambil sebarang tindakan untuk menunjukkan ianya mempunyai hak ke atas pulau dan batuan-batuan tersebut, termasuk mengoperasikan rumah api di Pulau Batu Putih setelah 31 Ogos 1957. Maka ICJ memutuskan bahawa Singapura mempunyai hak à titre de souverain ke atas Pulau Batu Putih manakala Batuan Tengah menjadi milik Malaysia melalui hakmilik Kesultanan Johor.

Inilah sebabnya APMM aktif menghalau BNA Indonesia, Vietnam dan China yang sengaja menguji reaksi pihak berkuasa Malaysia. Tidak mustahil jika suatu hari nanti negara-negara ini membuat tuntutan ke atas kawasan-kawasan perairan dan pulau-pulau di Malaysia sekiranya Malaysia tidak mengambil sebarang tindakan yang menunjukkan kedaulatannya ke atas kawasan-kawasan tersebut.

Masalah yang dihadapi oleh APMM pula ialah walaupun di atas kertas ia memiliki berpuluh-puluh aset dalam bentuk kapal peronda, bot-bot pemintas serta aset-aset udara, perlu difahami bahawa kapal-kapal peronda kelas Bagan Datuk inilah kapal peronda yang paling baharu dan paling canggih. Kapal-kapal peronda yang lain ada yang usianya sudah menjangkau 40 tahun dan kebanyakannya adalah jauh lebih kecil berbanding kapal-kapal peronda milik CCG. Sebuah kapal peronda kelas Bagan Datuk iaitu KM Lahad Datu serta tiga buah kapal peronda luar pesisir pantai (OPV) masih belum diserahkan kepada pihak APMM. Aset-aset udara pula hanyalah dua buah pesawat sayap kaku jenis Bombardier CL-415MP dan enam buah pesawat sayap putar jenis Eurocopter AS-365N3 Dauphin dan AgustaWestland AW139 – jauh dari jumlah yang boleh dianggap mencukupi.

Semasa kapal CCG Zhongguo Haijing 5402 mengganggu kapal penggerudi minyak serta kapal-kapal bekalan dalam kedudukan 44 batu nautika (80 kilometer) dari pesisir pantai negeri Sarawak, Malaysia telah menghantar dua buah kapal milik Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia (TLDM) iaitu Bunga Mas 5 dan KD Keris. Walaupun tindakan tersebut telah membuat kapal CCG tersebut mengalah dan berundur ke perairan Beting Patinggi Ali (Luconia Shoals) namun kita belum dapat menjangkakan reaksi pihak China seterusnya.

Ini adalah kerana Malaysia tidak bertindak balas dengan menggunakan diplomasi badan kapal putih (white hull diplomacy), iaitu kapal-kapal APMM untuk menyelesaikan keadaan. Sebaliknya, Malaysia telah menghantar dua buah kapal yang mempunyai badan kapal kelabu – iaitu kapal perang tentera. Besar kemungkinan, China akan bertindak balas di masa hadapan dengan mengirim sebuah atau dua kapal perang tentera lautnya (PLA-N) untuk mengiringi kapal peronda CCG. Sekiranya China bertindak sedemikian, ia adalah kerana tindakan Malaysia menjadi punca sebab China meningkatkan tahap reaksinya.

China juga baru-baru ini telah memperolehi persetujuan kerajaan Cambodia untuk menggunakan pangkalan tentera laut Cambodia di Ream yang terletak di Telukan Thailand. Sudah tentu kapal-kapal CCG dan PLA-N dapat menggunakan pangkalan ini untuk memperolehi bekalan. Ini bermakna, selain menunjukkan kuasanya di sebelah timur Laut China Selatan di luar pesisir pantai Sabah dan Sarawak, kapal-kapal CCG dan PLA-N juga boeh mengganggu bot-bot nelayan Malaysia serta platform dan kapal-kapal penggerudian minyak di sebelah barat Laut China Selatan iaitu di luar pesisir pantai Kelantan dan Terengganu yang hanya sekitar 15 jam pelayaran dari Ream pada kelajuan 20 batu nautika sejam.

Oleh demikian, adalah penting bagi kerajaan serta rakyat Malaysia memahami peranan penting APMM sebagai sebuah agensi separa-tentera (paramilitary) sebagai kuasa pencegahan bagi kuasa asing bertindak sewenang-wenangnya di dalam perairan serta Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) kita. Penting juga bagi kita memahami kerana APMM amat memerlukan lebih banyak aset dan kelengkapan yang lebih canggih dan besar serta berkemampuan untuk berada lama di kawasan rondaan tanpa perlu diulangbekal terlalu kerap.

Cabaran menguatkuasa undang-undang maritim serta mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia juga begitu hebat di musim pandemik COVID-19. Umum tahu bagaimana penularan virus COVID-19 di atas sebuah kapal pengangkut pesawat milik Amerika Syarikat telah melumpuhkan pengoperasian kapal tersebut. Oleh sebab itu, kapal-kapal APMM juga diarahkan supaya menjalankan operasi pengusiran BNA dan bukannya penangkapan. Menurut Leftenan Komander (M) Nik Mohd Rizam arahan pengusiran tersebut bukan sahaja untuk menjauhkan para pegawai dan anggota APMM dari terjangkit virus COVID-19, malah ianya juga adalah kerana penangkapan nelayan-nelayan asing juga mungkin akan mendedahkan rakyat Malaysia kepada penularan mutasi baharu virus tersebut.

Sehubungan itu, pusat-pusat tahanan PATI di negara ini sudah penuh hinggakan kerajaan terpaksa membuka pusat-pusat tahanan PATI sementara untuk menempatkan PATI yang ditangkap di dalam negara. Malah, Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri I Dato’ Sri Dr Haji Ismail bin Haji Mohamed Said semasa menjawab pertanyaan di dalam Parlimen pada 18 November 2020 memberitahu Dewan Rakyat bahawa setakat 13 November 2020, Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia (JIM) melaporkan bahawa terdapat seramai 13, 103 orang tahanan di Depot Tahanan Imigresen (DPI) di seluruh negara berbanding kapasiti depot seramai 12,530 orang tahanan pada satu-satu masa.

JIM juga melaporkan bagi tempoh dari 1 Januari 2020 hingga 12 November 2020, seramai 89,086 orang warga asing telah diperiksa. Dari jumlah tersebut, 21,176 orang PATI telah ditangkap untuk siasatan. Sekiranya kerajaan perlu tanggung kos makanan dan minuman berjumlah RM40 sehari bagi setiap orang PATI yang ditangkap ini, maka kerajaan terpaksa membelanjakan sebanyak RM847,040 setiap hari. Proses menghantar PATI pulang ke negara asal lazimnya mengambil masa di antara tiga minggu hingga empat bulan. Maka, kerajaan membelanjakan di antara RM840 hingga RM4800 untuk membekalkan makanan dan minuman bagi setiap orang PATI. Malah, kos keseluruhan untuk menanggung PATI di DPI di seluruh negara ialah sebanyak RM3.4 juta sebulan.

Pandemik COVID-19 juga memberi kesan terhadap emosi para petugas barisan hadapan APMM. Bagi Nasul Abdul Halik yang bertugas sebagai tukang masak KM Bagan Datuk, berjauhan dengan keluarga di Satok, Sarawak sudah tentu memberi cabaran baginya. Apatah lagi beliau baru setahun bertugas dalam APMM. Penularan wabak COVID-19 di Malaysia bermakna sudah setahun beliau tidak dapat menjenguk keluarga di Sarawak. Namun seperti lain-lain anak-anak kapal KM Bagan Datuk, beliau menguatkan semangat untuk melaksanakan tugas kerana moral anak-anak kapal yang lain bergantung juga kepada kemahiran beliau memasak. Sudah tentu rasa masakan beliau perlu sedap tidak mengira sama ada beliau bersedih mahupun mabuk laut akibat cuaca buruk.

Demikianlah di antara cabaran-cabaran yang dihadapi oleh para petugas barisan hadapan kita di Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia. Biarpun cabaran datang dalam berbagai gelombang, mereka akan tetap menerima cabaran-cabaran tersebut. Namun, lebih banyak sokongan kerajaan dari segi aset, kelengkapan dan kewangan yang diperlukan oleh mereka-mereka seperti Leftenan Komander (M) Nik Mohd Rizam dan anak-anak kapal KM Bagan Datuk untuk menjalankan tugas dengan lebih berkesan dan lebih berwibawa.

Kerajaan Perlu Bersungguh Mempertahankan Kedaulatan Negara

Di antara kapal-kapal nelayan China yang ditahan di perairan Johor oleh Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) – gambar APMM/Kyodo.

Minggu lalu, Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) telah menahan sebanyak enam buah kapal nelayan China dan seramai 60 orang anak kapal di perairan negeri Johor. Keenam-enam buah kapal tersebut yang didaftarkan di Qinhuangdao, 1300km ke utara Shanghai, sedang dalam perjalanan ke perairan Mauritania di barat Afrika apabila mengalami kerosakan berhampiran Tanjung Setapa di Pengerang. Kapal-kapal tersebut ditahan kerana berlabuh dalam perairan Malaysia tanpa kebenaran.

Apa yang menarik di sini ialah keenam-enam buah kapal tersebut adalah dalam perjalanan sejauh berpuluh ribu batu nautika untuk menangkap ikan di barat benua Afrika. Menurut kajian Overseas Development Institute, China mempunyai sebanyak 16,966 buah kapal nelayan jarak jauh. Dari jumlah tersebut, sebanyak 12,490 buah beroperasi di luar perairan China yang diiktiraf antarabangsa di antara tahun 2017 dan 2018. China menguatkuasakan sempadan perairannya mengikut nine-dash line yang direkanya pada tahun 2012 yang bertentangan dengan UNCLOS.

Selain penguatkuasaan yang dilakukan oleh China Coast Guard (CCG) berkenaan sempadan perairannya, penguatkuasaan juga dibuat ke atas tempoh larangan memancing di perairan Laut China Selatan. Penguatkuasaan ke atas larangan tersebut menyaksikan pertembungan di antara nelayan Vietnam dengan CCG. Dalam sebuah kes dalam bulan Jun 2020, sebuah bot nelayan Vietnam telah dikepung dan dilanggar hingga rosak oleh kapal-kapal milik CCG. Awak-awak bot Vietnam tersebut ditahan dan disiksa serta dipaksa menandatangani sebuah dokumen yang memaksa mereka mengakui perbuatan mereka melanggar tempoh larangan menangkap ikan.

Vietnam selama ini menggunakan tindakan diplomatik untuk membantah tindakan CCG, namun penggunaan saluran diplomatik yang terlalu kerap tidak membawa sebarang makna tanpa tindakan yang lebih keras untuk mempertahankan kedaulatan perairannya hinggakan nota-nota bantahan itu dianggap retorik semata-mata serta dimomok oleh rakyat Vietnam sendiri.

Tindakan CCG menghalau bot-bot nelayan Vietnam memaksa mereka untuk belayar lebih jauh ke Selatan untuk menangkap ikan, dan ini mengakibatkan mereka sanggup menceroboh ke dalam Zon Ekonomi Eksklusif (ZEE) lain-lain negara termasuk Malaysia dan Indonesia. Keadaan ini menjadikan mereka lebih terdesak; maka terjadilah insiden-insiden keganasan di laut termasuk serangan ke atas bot ‘Penyelamat 7‘ milik APMM baru-baru ini yang berakhir dengan kematian seorang nelayan Vietnam.

Bukan mudah bagi sebuah agensi barisan hadapan masa aman seperti APMM untuk mengawasi dan mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia yang seluas 614.159 kilometer persegi. ZEEnya sahaja mempunyai keluasan sebanyak 453,186 kilometer persegi. Majoriti aset yang dimiliki APMM bukan sahaja lebih sesuai digunakan di kawasan laut wilayah iaitu sekitar 12 batu nautika (22 kilometer) dari garis dasar (titik purata paras air surut terendah), malah ada yang berusia lebih 60 tahun dan boleh mendatangkan bahaya kepada anak kapal sekiranya dirempuh atau terperangkap dalam ribut dan gelombang yang kuat. Aset-aset ini juga tidak mampu menandingi aset-aset CCG yang jauh lebih besar dan berkeupayaan untuk berada di kawasan rondaan lebih lama.

Penggunaan aset-aset TLDM untuk membantu mengawasi dan mempertahankan kedaulatan perairan Malaysia di waktu aman juga hanyalah bersifat ‘barisan kedua.’ Penggunaan aset-aset tentera untuk membuat tugasan penguatkuasaan sebenarnya tidak langsung sesuai, malah lebih mudah untuk mencetus konflik di antara Malaysia dan negara-negara yang menceroboh. Pada bulan April 2012, sebuah kapal peronda tentera laut Filipina, ‘BRP Gregorio del Pilar‘, telah dihalang oleh dua buah kapal “penyelidikan” milik China iaitu ‘Zhonggou Haijian 75‘ dan ‘Zhonggou Haijian 84‘ daripada menahan lapan buah bot nelayan China di persekitaran Terumbu Scarborough. Ianya menjadi sebuah insiden diplomatik yang lebih sukar ditangani pada ketika itu kerana China lebih sukar untuk berkompromi kerana sebuah aset tentera telah digunakan.

Berbalik kepada 12,490 buah kapal nelayan jarak jauh milik China yang beroperasi di luar perairan China yang diiktiraf antarabangsa, kekurangan aset dan penggunaan aset-aset yang tidak bersesuaian dengan kehendak operasi sudah tentu menyukarkan APMM. Sebagai sebuah agensi separa-tentera, ianya memerlukan aset-aset yang lebih besar, lebih keupayaan tembakan untuk menguatkuasakan undang-undang yang berhubung dengan wilayah maritim negara. Kehadiran kapal-kapal nelayan yang diiringi aset-aset CCG di kawasan Gugusan Beting Raja Jarom (North Luconia Shoals), Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali (South Luconia Shoals) dan Beting Serupai (James Shoal) mencabar kewibawaan serta memberi calar kepada imej APMM.

CCG juga telah dikesan hadir mengiringi kapal-kapal nelayan China dalam perairan Indonesia di sebelah utara Kepulauan Natuna dalam bulan September 2020. Ini bermakna kita mungkin bakal menyaksikan insiden-insiden yang serupa dengan insiden yang melibatkan kapal ‘Haiyang Dizhi 8‘ milik China dengan kapal ‘West Capella‘ di barat-laut Sabah, tetapi kali ini di kawasan-kawasan carigali minyak di luar pesisir pantai timur Semenanjung pula.

Kerajaan harus membina keupayaan APMM sebagai agensi mutlak menguatkuasakan undang-undang berkaitan maritim di Malaysia. Kewujudan APMM pada dasarnya adalah untuk menyatukan kesemua 11 agensi berkaitan maritim di Malaysia. Namun, kehendak politik yang lemah masih menyebabkan peruntukan kewangan disalurkan kepada agensi-agensi yang sepatutnya tidak lagi melakukan penguatkuasaan undang-undang maritim. Ini adalah di antara sebab APMM bukan sahaja tidak mendapat peruntukan yang diperlukan, malah dianggap setara dengan agensi-agensi yang ia sepatutnya gantikan. Walhal, dalam apa jua keadaan yang melibatkan segala jenis insiden di laut, baik pencerobohan nelayan Kelas C dalam zon Kelas A, penyeludupan rokok dari negara jiran, penyekatan kemasukan Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI) kesemuanya diletakkan oleh persepsi masyarakat di atas bahu APMM dan bukannya 11 agensi tersebut.

Selain aset-aset yang berpatutan, berkeupayaan dan bersesuaian, Malaysia juga harus gunakan pendekatan diplomatik untuk membawa usul supaya UNCLOS memberi takrif mutlak dan spesifik terhadap gugusan-gugusan pulau dan terumbu seperti yang berada di Laut China Selatan agar lebih mudah untuk keputusan-keputusan International Tribunal for the Laws of the Sea (ITLOS) dikuatkuasakan. Mungkin tidak keterlaluan juga dicadangkan, dalam ketiadaan suatu badan perjanjian seperti NATO, supaya Malaysia, Filipina, Vietnam dan Indonesia membuat satu gabungan agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan maritim untuk berhadapan dengan ancaman pihak China, disamping mengadakan perjanjian-perjanjian serupa dengan Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Authority, tetapi untuk perikanan. Ianya lebih bermakna berbanding tunduk kepada kehendak China untuk mengiktiraf kedaulatan China di ZEE Malaysia.

Amatlah diharap agar Kementerian Kewangan dapat meluluskan peruntukan yang dimohon oleh pihak APMM demi maruah dan imej negara semasa pembentangan bajet tidak lama lagi.

MMEA’s Baptism of Fire

The two Vietnamese fishing vessels that had attacked the MMEA’s patrol craft

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) recently experienced its baptism of fire literally when one of its patrol craft came under attack from Vietnamese fishermen on board two fishing vessels. Early today, an Indonesian smuggler was shot dead in a scuffle with an MMEA personnel.

Incident with the Vietnamese fishermen

The incident involving the Vietnamese fishermen occured some 81 nautical miles from Tok Bali, Kelantan, inside the Malaysian Maritime Zone. This is equivalent to the distance where most of our offshore drilling platforms are located – 150 kilometers from the mouth of the Tok Bali river.. It also means that the Vietnamese fishing vessels were most definitely far from their own waters. They are known to have gone as far south as the Indonesian Natuna islands and have recently rammed several boats from the Indonesian Department of Fisheries to avoid being detained.

Not only that, towards the end of April of last year, two Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels rammed an Indonesian navy vessel in order to stop the latter from detaining several Vietnamese fishing vessels.

In the previous Sunday’s incident, they waited for the seven-men crew of the ‘Penyelamat 7’ to come close to their vessel before ramming their boat, throwing objects including iron blocks, wrenches, sharpened iron rods, cooking gas tank and others at the boat and crew. They have also prepared diesel bombs in several barrels on board their vessel which they threw at the boat with the intention of destroying it and its crew. In defence, the crew fired several warning shots to deter the crew of the fishing vessel from intentionally hindering the enforcement from boarding and inspecting. Still, they did not stop. The consequence, unfortunately, is in the form of a dead Vietnamese fisherman.

Incident with Indonesian smugglers

Near Tanjung Sedili early today, the MMEA foiled an attempt to smuggle exotic birds, the White-Rumped Shama and the Magpie Robin, by Indonesian smugglers using two fibreglass speedboats. The MMEA managed to stop the first boat and detained three Indonesian men aged between 40 to 62 and discovered about 90 cages filled with the birds mentioned.

A second boat arrived unaware that the first boat had been detained. An MMEA personnel jumped on board in an attempt to stop it. The boatman accelerated away in a dangerous manner where he tried to ram the MMEA patrol boat. A struggle ensued between the boatman and the enforcement officer where the former had tried to seize the latter’s weapon. Warning shots were fired by the other enforcement officers but this too was ignored, and a decision was made to use reasonable force to stop the smugglers from harming the enforcement officer on board their boat. A shot was fired and one of the smugglers was hit, and later pronounced dead on arrival at the Tanjung Sedili Medical Centre.

Formation of the MMEA

The men of the MMEA were just doing their job under but not limited to Section 7(2)(b) and Section 7(2)(d) of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Act, 2004 which allows them to board any vessel with the purpose of inspecting and searching, and investigate any offence that is being committed, or about to be committed, or has been committed. The 19 Vietnamese fishermen as well as the Indonesian smugglers that have been detained are now being investigated especially under Sections 307 and/or 186 of the Penal Code for the attempt to murder and for obstructing public servants from carrying out their duties.

The formation of the MMEA was mooted in 1999 and tabling of the MMEA bill was made in Parliament in 2004. Prior to its formation, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was managed in a sectoral manner by 11 government agencies and departments, involving 5,000 personnel and more than 400 vessels of all types. A singular and dedicated approach was required, leaning towards the roles of a coast guard, as both an enforcement agency as well as combatant in times of war – in other words, it is a paramilitary body. It in not any different than the Royal Malaysian Police’s General Operations Force (PGA). But unlike the police, the MMEA has the power to investigate and prosecute.

The MMEA acquired hand-me-down assets from the various marine departments and agencies, some of which are already in their 60s. Although procurements of new vessels have been made, the bulk of vessels patrolling our waters are more than 30 years old. Not only that, the numbers are not sufficient to cover the operations. Larger but older vessels need regular maintenance for them to be able to operate continually. Hence, smaller boats that are not meant for long-distance patrols and have no on-station endurance have to be employed.

In Dire Need of Newer and Suitable Assets

It was probably based on this knowledge that the fishing vessels involved in the recent incident were armed with improvised weapons meant to cause the destruction of these smaller patrol boats. Imagine what would have happened to the brave crew of the 20-meter Penyelamat 7 had their boat sunk that day. Desperate to not lose their livelihood if caught, these fishermen would do anything at all to avoid arrest. In April 1993, a Royal Malaysian Navy personnel whom had boarded a fishing vessel off Pulau Kapas in Terengganu was kidnapped, possibly after being overpowered, and was never found. I was made to understand that this almost happened to the men of the MMEA.

We need to understand that these fishing vessels work in packs of several vessels per pack. The MMEA would have to spread itself really thin to follow these packs. When a boarding party has successfully boarded a vessel, the MMEA patrol boat will then go after the other boat. Now imagine this: each fishing vessel is crewed by about ten men. Each Penyelamat-class boat has a crew of about eight. How many MMEA personnel can be put on each fishing vessel safely if they are not to be overpowered, and if there are three or four fishing vessels in a pack? In the case of the Penyelamat 7, it would have taken two hours and 40 minutes for another fast MMEA boat travelling at a speed of 30 knots to get to their location. In those two hours and 40 minutes, they would have to rely on sheer guts and luck to stay safe while facing 40 desperate and determined men.

Therefore, it is imperative that the government equip the MMEA with more purpose-built assets which are newer, larger and faster, to replace the current older ones as well as boats that are not built for long-range patrols. As its name suggests, the Penyelamat 7 was built for search-and-rescue operations, not enforcement. The MMEA would also be needing mobile floating bases – perhaps converted merchant vessels that can house extra crew, the Special Task and Rescue (STAR) team with a helicopter and fast Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats to act as a logistics ship for the MMEA patrol vessels as well as back ups for its patrol vessels. This way, patrol vessels will have a longer range and patrol endurance to intercept the packs.

Faster and capable patrol boats also need to be acquired for anti-piracy and anti-smuggling operations especially in the Johor waters and the Strait of Melaka.

The Vietnamese fishing fleets are known to be accompanied by a ‘mothership’ so that they can fish far from their waters, while the Indonesia smugglers and pirates are only a short hop away, able to carry out hit-and-run raids quickly if left unchecked. It is about time the government becomes serious about the matter and better equip the MMEA as any paramilitary force should be equipped.

Satan Is Never Good

Lee Min, leader of the Communist Party of Malaya in Kepayang, Ipoh, Perak in 1950 (pic courtesy of the Australian War Memorial)

At the recent gathering of former members and supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), the ADUN of Sungai Pelek Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew admitted that his father was a communist and that the latter strived to free Malaya from its British colonialists.

At the same gathering, a former terrorist, Tan Yi Yu, said that the purpose of the gathering among others is to correct the perception of the public towards the CPM. He said that the CPM’s struggle was a war against the colonialists and imperialism; a struggle for the independence of Malaya, democracy, freedom and peace.

First of all, CPM was never interested in the independence of Malaya, and definitely not interested in democracy. Save for Melaka and Pulau Pinang, Malaya was not under colonial rule and nor was it a British dominion. Malaya was made of nine independent sovereign states – all nations ruled by its own Ruler. The British administrators in these states were all under the payroll of the respective state’s Ruler and owed their allegiance to the Ruler. They came through agreements made between Britain and the Malay Rulers to help introduce a more efficient method of governance for the Rulers, and provide protection to the Malay states against aggressions.

And saying that the communist terrorists fought for democracy is like saying Satan did everything in his power to save Jesus from crucifixion. That is how absurd it sounds.

Chin Peng never harboured any loyalty to Malaya. Instead, he said that, influenced by communist doctrine, he wanted to join Mao’s forces to fight a guerrilla war in China. “The same sentiments still applied…I was intending to die for my motherland, a land I had never even visited” wrote Chin Peng in 2003. It means that 14 years after the signing of the Hatyai peace agreement, Chin Peng still regarded China as his motherland (Alias Chin Peng – My Side of History, p.133, 2003). Therefore, how could Chin Peng and his merry men and women have been interested in democracy, freedom and peace of Malaya/Malaysia?

On 31 August 1957, Malaya became a sovereign nation, recognised by the United Nations. She was in her ninth year of struggle against communist insurgency. She was administered by a government of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that was chosen by her people. That in itself shows the illegitimacy of the communist insurgency.

By 1960, 1,200 battle-weary communist terrorists made their way into Southern Thailand. The 8th Regiment in Kedah, the 5th and 12th Regiments from Perak, and the 10th Regiment in Pahang withdrew to areas in Betong and Golok, in the provinces of Yala and Narathiwat respectively.

In 1961, the CPM Central Committee carried out a review of its past policies and chartered a course for the resumption of armed struggle, and spread its doctrine amongst the Thai Chinese which later dominated the 8th and 12th Regiments. They set up Marxist-Leninist Training Schools to indoctrinate the youth, and by 1963, more than 2,000 indoctrinated youths had returned to Malaya and Singapore.

In Singapore, they infiltrated the Nanyang University Students Union (NUSU). 10 days after the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, the police entered the university to arrest communist leaders. It was also during this time that communist cadres from Johor, Selangor and Perak crossed to Indonesia to be trained and armed by the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI).

Armed struggle was not the only way that the CPM had tried in order to achieve victory. Participation in the democratic process, using political parties as a front to infiltrate into parliament was another method. In a communist document dated 20 March 1965 retrieved from an Executive Committee Member of the Partai Rakyat branch in Perak, states that: “The main thing is the peoples’ actual struggle, but parliamentary struggle is not to be abandoned because it may be used to our advantage.”

The almost exact words appeared in another document published by the Malayan Peoples Socialist Front (MPSF), the forerunner of the Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM), in Perak entitled “The Party’s Future Line of Struggle and Its Strategies” dated 4 April 1965 it states: “Strategically, we should adopt more violent forms of struggle and at the same time make full use of the parliamentary form of struggle.”

In June 1968, the CPM issued a policy statement that states: “In the final analysis, the practice of armed struggle during the past twenty years has confirmed that Mao Tse-tung’s Thought, Marxism-Leninism of the present era, is the guide to the Malayan revolution, and that the integration of the universal truth of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought with the concrete practice of the Malayan revolution is the only guarantee for achieving victory in the armed struggle of the Malayan people.”

The above statement was released to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the CPM’s armed rebellion launched in June 1948 (the First Emergency). on 17 June 1968, communist terrorists ambushed a police convoy near Kroh, Perak, killing 17 policemen. The bodies were mutilated and private parts severed and stuffed into their mouth. That signalled the commencement of the Second Emergency in a 11-year old self-governing nation that the CPM claimed to be British lackeys! Is that a display of its struggle for democracy, freedom and peace, Ronnie Liu?

Communist agents also infiltrated the Labour Party of Malaya (LPM) and the Parti Rakyat Malaya (PRM) making them components of a Communist United Front in the peninsular. They also infiltrated trade unions such as the Selangor Building Workers Trade Union, the United Malayan Estate Workers Union, the Electrical Industry Workers Union of Malaya and the Pineapple Industry Workers Union – all of which had to be de-registered to curb the red menace. They also infiltrated Chinese secondary schools to form the underground student movement as replacements for lost cadres.

They also exploited Islam and used misinterpretations of Islamic tenets as propaganda tools to exploit the Malays. We sometimes see this today in social media platforms posted by influencers and politicians saying that Islam has never been given a chance to develop under the government, and that communism safeguards Islam. Replace government and communism with acronyms of political parties and you will see what I mean.

Nanyang University in Singapore was not the only university that was infiltrated by communist agents. They also infiltrated the University of Malaya Chinese Language Society (UMCLS). It started in mid-1970 with a group of students calling themselves the Young Socialists planning to position themselves for the upcoming election, and in June 1971 succeeded in gaining control of the UMCLS Executive Committee as planned. The UMCLS quickly formed ancilliary bodies to spread the communist doctrine. Bodies such as the Dramatic Study Sub-Committee and the Cultural Exchange Preparatory Committee were designed to launch propaganda offensive.

The CPM link to the UMCLS was confirmed on 14 October 1973 when security forces shot dead a communist terrorist near Tanah Hitam, Chemor in Perak and found a work report by a lsenior student underground movement leader to his superiors on the activities conducted by the UMCLS.

UMCLS manipulation of the University of Malaya Students Union (UMSU) led to the illegal students riot on 21 September 1974. The UMCLS also issued pamphlets claiming that the fall in rubber prices and rising cost of living had resulted in deaths due to starvation of villagers in the Baling area of Kedah. This was supported by a transmission by the Suara Revolusi Malaya radio station in Beijing condemning the Malaysian government for causing the deaths of the people of Baling.

On 9 December 1974, police raided a house in SEA Park, Petaling Jaya that was occupied by members of the UMCLS and seized printing blocks, imitation rifles, boots, propaganda music cassettes and banners.

And in the name of freedom and peace, the first civilian murdered in the Second Emergency occured when communist terrorists dragged a woman from her house in Sintok, Kedah and shot her in front of the villagers. She was a former communist who had surrendered to the authorities. She was a Chinese.

I can go on and on about the murders of two most senior ranking police officers, the bombs that kept going off in Kuala Lumpur, the murders of policemen on duty in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, the bombing of the National Monument and many others that occured until 2 December 1989. But all I want to prove here is that the CPM was never interested in democracy, freedom and peace, and those murdered in Malaysia were Malaysians and none of them were British colonialists or Imperialists.

All the justification that Ronnie Liu and Tan Yi Yu had put forth in trying to portray the CPM as heroes of the nation are just hogwash, pure rubbish and deserve the display of both my middle fingers. If it weren’t for the selfless sacrifices of the men and women of the security forces – Indian, Chinese, Malay, Iban, Orang Asli and others, these ruthless murderers would have made it into Putrajaya, or Jalan Dato Onn in those days.

Stop trying to hoodwink the public. There is no way that Satan can ever be good.

Dog Eat Dog

A parade of members of the Communist Party of Malaya

Perak-born Che Dat bin Anjang Abdullah, otherwise known as Abdullah CD, was a top ranking member of the Communist Party of Malaya. He was once captured during the early months of the First Emergency (1948-1960) in Pahang and was sent to an internment camp in Melaka. As the camp was new, Abdullah CD and other detainees were tasked as labourers to complete the construction of the camp. There he met with a Malayan Civil Service official who was transferred to the camp to supervise its construction. Abdullah CD became friendly with this official and they frequently had casual talks. That night, Abdullah CD escaped. He went on to form the 10th Regiment of the Communist Party of Malaya and continued to wreak havoc until the Hat Yai Peace Agreement was signed on 2 December 1989.

When Dr Mahathir commented on the issue of Chin Peng’s ashes being brought back to Malaysia he said that if the likes of Shamsiah Fakeh and Rashid Maidin could be brought back home without any hassle, why can’t Chin Peng’s ashes be brought back too? What could his ashes do? Mahathir is known for his display of malingering amnesia, usually seen in people who fake amnesia to commit insurance fraud or to avoid criminal punishment.

Shamsiah Fakeh joined the CPM after PKMM, API and AWAS were declared illegal by the authorities. After eight years of struggle, she was ordered to go to Beijing where she operated the Siaran Melayu Radio Beijing Antarabangsa, otherwise known as Suara Revolusi Malaya (I used to listen to it over short wave frequency when I was a teenager). In 1965, she was in Indonesia where she formed the Malayan National Freedom League, when Suharto launched a coup and Sukarno was deposed. As a result, Shamsiah Fakeh was arrested and spent two years in prison.

She returned to China in 1967 to find that the CPM had split into three – the CPM, the CPM Revolutioner and the CPM – Marxist Leninist. She and her husband Ibrahim became strong critics of the CPM and were eventually expelled from the organisation. This was probably one of the reasons that she was brought back by the Prime Minister’s Research Department on 23 July 1994; psychologically she was already against the CPM. Who was the Prime Minister who allowed her to return then?

Were Rashid Maidin and Abdullah CD allowed to return home as claimed by Mahathir? The answer is no. However, they were granted visit passes as agreed in the Hat Yai Agreement. Each time that they wanted to enter Malaysia to visit relatives they would have to inform the police first and a pass would be issued to them. Rashid Maidin died in Amphoe Si Sakhon, Changwat Narathiwat in September 2006 while Abdullah CD still lives in Amphoe Sukhirin, Changwat Narathiwat and is 96 years old. Who was the Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs who denied them citizenship and a chance to return to Malaysia?

Remember how Abdullah CD escaped from an internment camp in Melaka after speaking to the Malayan Civil Service supervisor? He would not have made it to the apex of the CPM if he cannot convince people and turn them over. Chin Peng was also good at psychological warfare.

It was in the mid-1980s when my father who was the Inspector-General of Police asked Sarawak Police Commissioner Yuen Yuet Leng if it was a good time to ask the CPM to surrender. Yuet Leng replied, “Sir, I believe the CPM is very tired. If you give them a pillow, they will go to sleep.”

It was around this time that Abdullah CD wrote a letter to then Encik Ghafar Baba asking to negotiate for peace. The police then assigned Rahim Noor who was the Director of Special Branch then to handle the issue. The police asked permission from Ghafar to assume his identity and correspond with Abdullah CD. In the end, the CPM agreed to receive someone who would be in the position to make decisions on behalf of the Malaysian government. For this, the police extended the service of a Chinese police officer who was on the verge of retirement (not Yuet Leng as the CPM knew him) to pose as this senior official. This senior police officer was then brought to Mahathir’s office for a photo of them together to be taken and shown to the CPM. The CPM took the bait and allowed Rahim and the Chinese police officer to negotiate with them, with Yuet Leng in the background advising.

Spending too much time with Chin Peng can make you sympathise with him easily, just as Abdullah CD was with the MCS supervisor. One day Rahim came to my father and asked if it would be okay for him to bring Chin Peng to speak directly to Mahathir as how he had spoken directly with Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1955.

“Who is Chin Peng to speak to Mahathir? Tunku was not a Prime Minister when Chin Peng spoke to him. Chin Peng is only at your level. That is why I sent you to speak to him,” said my father to Rahim.

Judging by Rahim’s attempt to get Chin Peng to meet with Mahathir, and his recent comment on the issue of the former’s ashes, it is of no surprise that Rahim could be suffering from the Lima Syndrome which is the total opposite of the Stockholm Syndrome. How can a former Inspector-General of Police who was also a former Director of Special Branch have forgotten the sacrifices of the men of the Royal Malaysian Police fighting with this monster? How could he, as the Director of Special Branch, allowed himself to be used by Chin Peng?

And as for Mahathir the political chameleon, it is evident that in order to score political points, he would say just about anything short of “come and lynch me”. It never matters to him who died, who had lost a husband, sons, brothers be they Malay, Chinese, Iban or Indian, fighting the communists, as long as he is seen ‘rationale’ in the eyes of those who had wanted Chin Peng back in this country. The epitome of dog-eat-dog.

I only have one word to describe Mahathir and Rahim – disgusting.

The Butcher of Bekor is back

Six years ago a psychopathic god called Chin Peng, kicked the bucket. He died as he had lived – on a foreign soil, as a foreigner.

Chin Peng was never a citizen of this country, nor was he a citizen of the Federation of Malaya before our independence. He never met the criteria stipulated in Part 1.1(a) of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

Hitler killed Jews for only five years.

Chin Peng waged war against the people he was supposed to liberate for 41 years. Why did Chin Peng not stop as soon as the Tunku had announced Malaya’s independence in Melaka in 1956?

Why did he continue to wage war against this nation and her people?

The British government servants were all serving the Sultans and Rajas and were answerable to the latter, with the exception of Penang, Melaka and Singapore that were colonies of the British Empire.

So Chin Peng was not interested in fighting against colonialism, the Japanese also did that in Malaya!

Chin Peng was more interested in assuming this nation under communism, as a satellite nation to the People’s Republic of China. And thousands died fighting this man who was adamant to destroy their religion and way of life.

For his ashes to have been allowed to be brought back to pollute our sacred nation’s soil after all the sufferings that he had caused, is the ultimate insult to those whom had lost fathers, brothers, sons, mother, daughters, sisters, limbs, combatting this terrorist.

What is more insulting is that this happened under the nose of our police force. I wonder who gave the permission for his ashes to be brought back here. Would you like to hazard a guess?

Chin Peng was never interested in coming back to Malaysia. 1,188 members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) were all that was left during the signing of the agreement to end hostilities in Hat Yai on 2 December 1989. The CPM was given one year till 1 December 1990 to submit a list of those who wished to return to Malaysia. Only 694 were Malaysian, Indonesian and Singapore nationals. Two were former soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. The other 492 were Thai nationals.

Of the 1,188 only 431 applied to return. The list did not include Chin Peng’s name. Of the 431, only 338 were allowed to return. 93 had their application rejected because they were non-citizens or did not fulfil the requirements of the agreement – Malaysian citizen, of Malaysian origin, born post Merdeka, or post Malaysia Day 1963, or spouse, or child of either if one is an alien.

Each applicant was to stay in the designated places in southern Thailand for at least six months prior to making an application to return. Where was Chin Peng? Well, he was never in south Thailand. He wrote a letter to Malaysia’s Prime Minister from an apartment in Bangkok.

So why should the ashes of the butcher of Bekor, and the head of Malaysia’s largest terrorist organisation which is still in existence, have been allowed to be brought back here? He had no love whatsoever for this country.

And what are the police going to do after this faux pas of theirs? Had the organisers who brought back the ashes of their psychopathic god not committed an offence or two under the Societies Act, 1966? Or is the rule of law only applicable to those not in favour of the current regime?

You are Polis DiRaja Malaysia. Your allegiance is not to your political masters but to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers whom the Agong represents. What are you going to do about these people whom had brought the ashes of the man who waged a war of terror against your Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his subjects?

Defence – Isu Seragam Komunis

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Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan memakai corporate bush jacket Kementerian Pertahanan semasa membuat lawatan. Beliau memakai bush jacket yang sama dalam gambar yang dikatakan pakaian seragam komunis

Heboh disebarkan di dalam media sosial sebuah gambar yang menampakkan Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan memeriksa kawalan kuarter Tentera Darat di mana beliau dikatakan memakan pakaian seragam Parti Komunis Malaya.  Saya terpanggil untuk menulis kerana saya perlu bersikap adil kerana menjadi prinsip saya agar hal ehwal pertahanan tidak dipolitikkan.

Bush Jacket Korporat – Satu Langkah Yang Wajar

Saya tak tahu sejak bila budaya Menteri memakai pakaian seragam tentera ini dimulakan.  Seingat saya, Dr Mahathir semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri Ke-4 hanya memakai pakaian seragam tentera darat semasa beliau dianugerahkan beret kehormat Grup Gerak Khas pada tahun 2001.  Selain itu tidak pernah saya lihat beliau mengenakan pakaian tentera.

Begitu juga dengan Najib Razak semasa melawat para pegawai dan anggota tentera kita di Bosnia semasa beliau menjadi Menteri Pertahanan. Beliau tidak mengenakan pakaian tentera penuh, hanya memakai sebuah jaket celoreng untuk mengatasi cuaca sejuk di sana.

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Najib Razak melawat MALBATT di Bosnia semasa beliau menjadi Menteri Pertahanan

Bapa beliau yang menjadi Menteri Pertahanan sebanyak dua kali, juga tidak pernah memakai pakaian seragam tentera semasa melawat barisan hadapan.

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Dato’ Abdul Razak bin Hussein, yang ketika itu Menteri Pertahanan, melawat pangkalan Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia di Sungai Besi pada tahun 1963

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Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri, melawat No.3 Skuadron di Pangkalan Udara Butterworth pada 31 Disember 1974 memakai Bush Jacket berlengan panjang

Begitu juga dengan Perdana Menteri Ke-3, Tun Hussein Onn.  Beliau tidak pernah mengenakan pakaian seragam tentera semasa melawat unit-unit tentera.

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Dato’ Hussein Onn, Perdana Menteri Ke-3, memeriksa kawalan kuarter Tentera Darat memakai Bush Jacket berlengan pendek – foto ehsan Jabatan Penerangan

Pemakaian pakaian seragam tentera oleh individu-individu yang tidak berkenaan, yang tidak pernah menjalani sebarang latihan untuk berkhidmat untuk Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, selain di atas sebab khusus dan istimewa seperti semasa pengurniaan beret atau sayap kehormat, adalah dianggap mencemar pakaian seragam tersebut.  Ini disebabkan mereka yang tidak pernah dilatih tidak mengetahui pahit jerih serta nilai pakaian seragam serta lencana dan sayap tersebut.

Kadangkala sebagai seorang Veteran ATM, saya rasa terkilan dan sedih apabila mereka-mereka yang tidak pernah lalui sebarang bentuk latihan ketenteraan dan diberikan tauliah kehormat, bersikap lebih tentera daripada warga ATM, dan meletakkan pakaian kepala mereka seperti topi ataupun beret yang mempunyai lencana kor, di atas tanah atau di lain-lain tempat tanpa menghormati makna lencana tersebut.

Pada tahun 2015, DYMM Sultan Johor pernah menegur sikap ramai pemimpin tentera dan pegawai kehormat yang memakai pelbagai lencana dan sayap kehormat ma­sing-masing sepanjang masa kerana berdasarkan tata cara pemakaian, ia perlu dipakai semasa majlis yang berkenaan sahaja.

Jika betul-betul ingin memakai lencana sayap sepanjang masa, saya syorkan buatlah terjunan dahulu. Sekurang-kurangnya sayap yang tersemat di dada itu benar-benar mempunyai nilainya dan bukannya hanya sebagai hiasan yang memenuhi uniform,” titah baginda yang pernah mendapat latihan ketenteraan di Pusat Latihan Tentera Darat (PULADA), di Fort Benning dan Fort Bragg di Amerika Syarikat, dan menjalani kursus jurutrbang helikopter di TUDM Kluang.

Oleh itu, saya amat menyokong pemakaian pakaian korporat oleh Menteri dan Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan semasa membuat lawatan ke unit-unit Angkatan Tentera Malaysia.

Pakaian Seragam Komunis?

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Gambar yang ditularkan yang mendakwa Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan memakai seragam Parti Komunis Malaya semasa memeriksa kawalan kuarter

Apakah pilihan pakaian yang ada untuk warga Kementerian Pertahanan yang bukan pegawai atau anggota tentera semasa berada di luar kawasan KEMENTAH?  Pakaian kemeja korporat mungkin kurang sesuai berbanding bush jacket sekiranya lawatan tersebut melibatkan mesyuarat dengan pucuk pimpinan ATM berkenaan hal-ehwal operasi.  Sekiranya ianya melibatkan perbarisan penuh bersama panji-panji maka lounge suit atau baju istiadat Ahli Parlimen lebih sesuai terutamanya dengan kehadiran Raja-Raja.

Tetapi, kenapa pakaian Bush Jacket korporat Kementerian Pertahanan itu mirip pakaian seragam Parti Komunis Malaya? Itu pertanyaan yang diajukan oleh mereka-mereka yang tidak pernah melihat pakaian seragam PKM.

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Pakaian seragam Ketumbukan Ke-10 Parti Komunis Malaya

Pakaian seragam Parti Komunis Malaya adalah berwarna hijau gelap.  Ianya hampir serupa dengan pakaian seragam tempur Tentera Darat ketika itu yang menggunakan warna ‘paddy green‘.  Hanya pada penghujung tahun 1970an barulah Angkatan Tentera Malaysia menggantikan pakaian tempur ‘paddy green‘ dengan pakaian tempur celoreng.

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Bush Jacket yang dipakai oleh Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan adalah berwarna khaki dan bukannya hijau tua seperti seragam PKM.  Khaki adalah warna yang lebih sesuai digunakan untuk tugas-tugas di tengah panas berbanding di dalam hutan kerana elemen penyamaran yang lemah.

Elak Menjadi Lebih Tentera Daripada Tentera

Angkatan Tentera Malaysia adalah sebuah organisasi professional yang berpegang teguh kepada disiplin dan tradisi.  Walaupun tidak dinafikan Menteri Pertahanan sebelum ini banyak membantu dari segi kebajikan warga Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, dan warga ATM memang berterima kasih di atas usaha-usaha tersebut, namun ada beberapa perkara yang tidak disenangi oleh mereka.  Pemakaian pakaian seragam yang berleluasa oleh Menteri ketika itu terutamanya beret maroon kehormat dan sayap penerjunan kehormat di hampir kesemua majlis pernah menjadi sebutan warga ATM.

Penganugerahan tauliah kehormat dengan agak mudah kepada para pegawai beliau ketika itu juga menimbulkan rasa tidak puas hati di kalangan para pegawai dan anggota kerana mereka rasakan nilai pangkat yang dipakai itu terhakis.  Yang memakai itu mungkin hanya mempunyai kesetiaan politik, tetapi kesetiaan kami bukanlah kepada elemen politik.  Kami setia hanya kepada Raja dan Negara.

Begitu juga dengan pengenalan budaya ‘fist bump‘ serta laungan “Perkasa Perwira” yang berlainan dengan laungan semangat tradisi iaitu “Gempur Wira” yang menjadi sebahagian daripada istiadat ATM itu sendiri.

Kita faham usaha kerajaan ketika itu untuk memperkasakan ATM, tetapi cukuplah sekiranya ‘Perkasa Perwira‘ itu hanya sebagai hashtag di media sosial dan bukannya laungan semangat.  Begitu juga ‘fist bump‘ yang sememangnya bukan budaya mana-mana angkatan tentera walaupun separa-formal.  Mungkin tujuannya ketika itu adalah untuk menunjukkan kepada orang awam bahawa warga ATM ini sebenarnya cool.  Kami sememangnya cool, namun sebagai sebuah organisasi yang professional dan bertanggung jawab untuk mempertahankan kedaulatan negara, kami tidak boleh dilihat sebagai cool apatah lagi hip seperti hipster.

Oleh itu, langkah memakai Bush Jacket korporat oleh Menteri dan Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan sekarang adalah satu langkah yang betul kerana mereka adalah sebagai facilitator membantu warga ATM untuk mencapai sasaran doktrin mereka.  Benar, kerjasama baik di antara Kementerian Pertahanan dengan Angkatan Tentera Malaysia itu penting, namun tidak perlulah sehingga menjadi cool dan hip.  Dapatkan apa yang terbaik yang diidamkan oleh warga ATM sebagai end-user adalah lebih bermakna bagi mereka.

Perkasakanlah Angkatan Tentera Malaysia tanpa menjadi lebih tentera dari mereka.

 

There Is Nothing Wrong With Our Sukhois

When the Defence Minister revealed to the world that we only had four Sukhoi Su-30MKMs that could fly out of the 18 that we have, I kept quiet because no one was interested in listening. This problem of the Sukhois had already been anticipated by both the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and by defence observers such as myself.

The RMAF was never told by Russia that once the fighters reach their 10th year, a major maintenance was required before they reach another milestone.

This problem had been anticipated from a couple of years back, even as early as under the leadership of the previous Chief of RMAF. The RMAF had since then made sure that all the other assets could make up for the Sukhois being offline for some time.

Today, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported an anonymous RMAF source saying that the problem of the Sukhois is not the weakness of the organisation’s maintenance regime, but more because of the way the Russians do business.

The deal with Russia for the Sukhois were made in 2003 during the final year of the administration of the 4th Prime Minister, and were delivered to the RMAF in 2007 and 2009. Receiving good support initially, Russian bureaucratic ways soon set in and made things difficult.

Although Western countries have offered Malaysia their fighters, buying from them always come with strings attached. When we purchased our earlier Boeing F/A-18 Hornets, the US did not allow them to come with the advanced weapons. We only received those after the Russians sold us their version of those weapons.

Coupled with slashed budgets, the RMAF had found it difficult to ensure that the Su-30MKMs undergo their 10th year undisclosed maintenance.

Russia needs to learn to rid itself of the bureaucracy that riddles its defence industry if it wants to continue having developing nations’ trust. Else there is no choice but for their air forces, including ours, to seek fighters elsewhere.

Defence: RMAF Is 60

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A RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker

The Royal Malaysian Air Force turns 60 today.  Despite turning a year older, the RMAF still maintains the theme of last year’s celebration which is “Air Power Pillar of National Sovereignty” (Kuasa Udara Tonggak Kedaulatan Negara).  Yet, despite being a critical element in force projection and taking the fight away from the nation’s territory, the RMAF suffers from lack of attention.  The Army has had new equipment added into their inventory including MD530G armed scout helicopters while the Navy has begun embarking on its 15-to-5 fleet modernisation, the Air Force has not seen any major purchases other than the inclusion of the Airbus A400M three years ago.

The responsibility of defending Malaysia’s airspace falls on the shoulders of the Boeing F/A-18D Hornets and the Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers.  The latter are now undergoing its 10-year service programme which affects the number of aircraft available.  The revival of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N Fulcrums came to a halt when the previous government decided not to fund their refurbishment.  And whether there will be any funding for the Multirole Combat Aircraft (MRCA) programme remains to be seen.  As it is right now, I doubt that the MRCA is at the top of the RMAF’s priority list.  There are other pressing issues.

MRCA versus LCA/LIFT

Like it or not, MRCAs are very expensive to operate.  And the RMAF suffers from having too many types of aircraft in its inventory, creating a logistical nightmare.  Many of the interceptions over the South China Sea are done by the BAe System Hawk 208 light multirole fighters.  The Hawks are more than 20 years old now and are affected by wear and tear.  Subsonic with a thrust to weight ratio of 0.65, the Hawks are not the ideal aircraft for such jobs.  Wear and tear due to age is also causing the RMAF to not be able to provide real flying hours for its younger pilots.  Although its simulators can now provide high-fidelity training, there is nothing like getting a bird in the air in a real environment.

maxfoxbatbryansky
A Yakovlev Yak-130 LIFT/LCA (photo courtesy of Max Foxbat Bryansky – jetphotos.net)

Once all the Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers have undergone the 10th year servicing, the RMAF would have an adequate number of multirole fighters.  Therefore, rather than getting MRCAs at this juncture, the RMAF should concentrate on getting light combat aircraft cum lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft that could minimise the time needed to fully develop its fighter pilots.  During World War 2, the Imperial Japanese Navy could not train its combat pilots sufficiently causing it to lose air superiority.  Although its aircraft industry could churn out more aircraft, replacement pilots could not be trained fast enough.  This is a situation the RMAF needs to avoid.  It has to have a sufficient number of very capable and modern LIFT aircraft and a combat version to operate from. More modern contenders such as the Yakovlev Yak-130 and its Italian version the Alenia Aermacchi M-346, as well as the Korea Aerospace Industries KAI T-50 and its light combat aircraft version the FA-50.

Alenia Aermacchi M346
The European Yak-130: the Alenia Aermacchi M-346

A consideration that needs to be taken by the RMAF is the thrust-to-weight ratio of the contenders.  The Yak-130/M-346 offer a ratio of 0.70 versus the T-50’s 0.96.  The rate of climb for the Yak-130/M-346 is at 10,000 feet per minute while the T-50/FA-50 is at 39,000 feet per minute.  The T-50/FA-50 has a digital fly-by-wire (FBW) system as do the Yak-130/M-346, but taking into consideration the commonality of logistics and spares, the T-50/FA-50 uses the same powerplant as the RMAF Boeing F/A-18D Hornets.  Furthermore, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are already using the T-50.

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A ROKAF KAI T-50B

The RMAF should consider having about 36 of the FA-50 variant and 12 T-50 LIFT variant.  This would not only prepare enough fighter pilots who would easily migrate to the new MRCAs, but would also complement the current number of MRCAs plus do a better job intercepting bogeys than the Hawks would.  Once these are in place, the RMAF can do away with its Hawks and Aermacchi MC339CM.

Hawk 108
RMAF BAe System Hawk 108

There used to be a time when the RMAF slogan “Sentiasa Di Angkasaraya” (Always In The Air) was true.  Seeing fighters flying overhead often drove many to join the RMAF.  We had so many birds flying in a day that even the Air Traffic and Air Defence Controllers had good training.  So, getting the number of airframes in the air is what matters.

In the end, when the RMAF does get its MRCAs, it should limit itself to just one type.  The economies of scale of purchasing many of one type far outweighs the buying of several of several types.  And that is not rocket science.

Enhancing Its Transport/Helicopter Capabilities

Other than having MRCAs and LIFT/LCA, the RMAF also operates various types of transport and helicopter capabilities.  Fixed-wing transport aircraft (other than for VIP transport role) include the Airbus A400M, Lockheed C-130H and the IPTN CN-235.  The Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri and the Eurocopter EC725 Caracal make up the helicopter inventory.

A400M
RMAF Airbus A400M

The C-130H and Nuri helicopters are definitely more than 20 years old.  The C-130H is definitely in need of an Aircraft Upgrade Program (AUP) to address fatigue and cracks.  Contrary to popular belief, the A400M was not acquired to replace the C-130H.  The A400M is to take a strategic role while the C-130H maintains its tactical role.  Both types are needed in the RMAF inventory as they complement each other.  What the RMAF needs to do is to offload its Nuri helicopters to the Army (which is already operating several hand-me-down Nuris) and acquire more EC725s.  The former is far better for transporting infantrymen and howitzers into the battlefield while the latter is more suitable for Search-and-Rescue operations as well as the insertion and extraction of special forces elements.

C-130H
RMAF Lockheed C-130H

Another role that the RMAF should consider offloading is the maritime patrol role.  This role only complements the Royal Malaysian Navy’s operations, and should therefore be handed over to the RMN.  It makes no sense in having the Air Force pay for the cost of Navy operations.

Nuri
RMAF Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri

Sufficient number of training hours flown by the transport pilots are also crucial.  One incident has caused an uproar among observers, when the new Minister of Defence flew to a berbuka puasa event with RMAF personnel at the Butterworth Air Base in a RMAF Airbus A400M aircraft.  The public must be aware that whether or not the Minister was on board, the A400M would still have flown – if not on that day, then on another, empty or otherwise – just so the pilots could clock at least minimum flying hours for the month.

As the Minister was invited by the RMAF to attend the event, it was arranged for the Minister as well as RMAF top brass and other personnel from Kuala Lumpur (there were 59 passengers on board in total that day) to be flown on the A400M so that the air crew could get their required hours.

Enhancing Radar/Early Warning Capabilities

In the old days, watchtowers were built as high as they could in order to provide the defenders with a form of early warning.  We now have air defence radars scattered all over the country.  These radars are in constant need of upgrading works to keep them updated.  Funds must be made readily available for these radar to be able to operate continuously around the clock.

The RMAF lacks an eye-in-the-sky.  From the days when I joined the RMAF in the 1980s, the AWACS have always been sought after but never procured.  An AWACS provides the RMAF as well as the RMN a good detail of what is happening both in the sky and at sea.  Four AWACS with good loiter endurance based in Kuching working round-the-clock should suffice. Kuching is at the nearest point between Borneo and the Peninsular, and covers the South China Sea easily.  This is where, Maritime Patrol Aircraft with anti-ship and anti-submarine capability should be made available for the RMN to complement the its role especially in the South China Sea.

I am not sure but I believe we cannot see much of what is beyond the Crocker range in Sarawak.  Mobile radar systems could be stitched along the range to provide better coverage of what goes beyond the range.  The data can be fed via satellite or HF system.  The RMAF’s HF system is more than capable of providing accurate radar picture of the area.

Vera-E
Vera-E passive emitter locating system

The Malaysian Army’s “top secret” Vera-E passive radar system should also make its data available and fed into the RMAF’s current air defence radar system to enhance the capability of the the latter.  There is nothing so secret about the Vera-E.  Several keys tapped on Google and one would be able to find out about the Malaysian procurement of the system.  I am flabbergasted that the Malaysian Army has yet to share the Vera-E data with the RMAF.  And I first wrote about this back in June 2015!

A Total Change In The Procurement System Is Needed

The RMAF used to operate the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N Fulcrums.  Received in 1995, the two squadrons of MiG-29Ns no longer exist.  In contrast, the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) has a squadron of MiG-29B acquired in 1999.  All its MiG-29Bs will be upgraded to the MiG-29SMT.  Why can the BAF maintain its fleet of MiG-29s when we can’t?

The answer is probably in the procurement system.

There are just too many layers of companies to go through when we acquired the MiG-29Ns.  Spare parts get too expensive to buy when there are too many layers of companies to go through.  There were talks of producing parts for the MiG-29N locally somewhere in Gambang, Pahang, but I guess that never materialised for some reason.  In the end, the MiG-29N became too expensive to maintain and operate, and I suspect the same applies to many equipment of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

There were times in the past when the end user got what they did not want.  It is imperative that the end user gets to dictate the equipment that they want, while the civilian administrators and the politicians seek the funds needed for those procurements, and not interfere in the process.

It is encouraging to hear that the new Minister of Defence will be looking at reforming some aspects of the Ministry of Defence. I really hope that the procurement system will be reformed as well to do away with these layers of companies marking up prices before the end users get their equipment.

Until the reform in the procurement process happens, neither the RMAF, nor the RMN, nor the Army, will ever get what they really want.  Such wastage should be nipped and no longer be allowed.

Moving Forward

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RMAF Chief, General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF

Addressing the budget constraint faced by the government, the RMAF Chief General Tan Sri Dato Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF said that no matter the situation, the RMAF will always ensure that the sovereignty of the nation is never compromised.

We shall prioritise our needs and ensure that the sovereignty of this beloved nation is NOT compromised in any way despite the budget constraints.

General Affendi added that the RMAF has planned for the next 35 years to increase its level of preparedness and combat capabilities.

I certainly hope to see the RMAF have a better future, and hopefully, with a fresh new Minister leading, the required reforms could be made so that the RMAF will truly be what it used to be.

Happy 60th Anniversary, RMAF. May the next 60 years be better than the previous ones.

Undi Awal? Tiada Masalah

Pagi ini Angkatan Tentera Malaysia dan Polis DiRaja Malaysia akan membuang undi awal. Saya berpeluang membuang undi awal beberapa kali semasa masih dalam perkhidmatan.

Baru-baru ini Mahathir ada menulis dua pucuk surat yang ditujukan kepada panglima-panglima perkhidmatan dalam ATM dan juga kepada warga ATM dan PDRM dengan pesanan agar mengundi dengan bebas tanpa dipaksa oleh mana-mana pihak untuk mengundi calon dan parti tertentu.

Ianya bertujuan untuk memberi gambaran buruk bahawa warga ATM dan juga PDRM akan diarah untuk memberi undi kepada calon dan parti tertentu.

Sepanjang saya mengundi dalam perkhidmatan belum pernah lagi sesiapa pun memaksa saya mengundi calon atau parti yang saya tidak sokong. Walaupun kami setia kepada Seri Paduka dan negara serta kerajaan Seri Paduka, pilihan sokongan politik tetap menjadi hak persendirian dan adalah rahsia.

Ini disahkan juga oleh Mejar Jeneral Datuk Zaharin Ahmad TUDM (Bersara) yang telah berkhidmat selama 42 tahun dengan jawatan akhir sebagai Juruiring kepada DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong.

Proses pembuangan undi awal adalah sama sahaja dengan proses pembuangan undi biasa. Akan terdapat pegawai SPR dan juga agen calon-calon yang bertanding hadir di tempat membuang undi. Maka agak mustahil untuk sebarang penyelewengan undi berlaku.

Mungkin Mahathir takut kerana beliau mungkin pernah mengarahkan agar tentera dan polis mengundi Barisan Nasional semasa beliau menjadi Perdana Menteri dulu, namun hakikatnya tiada paksaan pernah berlaku.

Proses pembuangan undi awal dan biasa tidak pernah tercemar dahulu hingga sekarang. Mungkin alasan yang diberi hanya sebagai persediaan sekiranya Pakatan kalah sekali lagi.

Umur dah lanjut, tua dan ganyut, tolonglah ingat maut.