Defence: All Is Fair In The RMAF

“Good iron doesn’t make nails, good men don’t make soldiers.”

That is the old Chinese adage which is still probably true especially for the Malaysian Chinese today.  It is the same adage that the late Lee Kuan Yew lamented about in one of his memoirs. The participation of the Chinese community in the Malaysian Armed Forces is still poor despite numerous recruitment drives done to get them to join.

In 2010, out of an approximate 100,000 men and women of the Malaysian Armed Forces, only 0.2 percent of Chinese joined the Malaysian Army, 0.3 percent joined the Royal Malaysian Navy, while 0.4 percent joined the Royal Malaysian Air Force. For the Indians, the numbers are 0.7 percent, 1.1 percent and 1.7 percent for the respective branch of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

It may be on the extreme end to say that the Chinese probably feel that it is far more important to make money than to play a role in defending the country, but the notion that I get is that they probably feel you cannot prosper working for the government.

It could also be due to the unwillingness of the youth nowadays to undergo hard training no matter how good the pay is. But that does not answer why the number of Malays are more in the Malaysian Armed Forces.

As a result, the Malaysian Armed Forces is overwhelmingly Malay.  Hence, in any leadership line up you would see more Malays becoming senior and star officers compared to the non-Malays.

This lopsided scene is then misinterpreted as the non-Malays do not stand a chance to rise and make the ranks – a perception that is played by those irresponsible to instill an anti-establishment feeling among the non-Malays.

Let us take the RMAF, for example, where the organisation has four non-Malay star officers (Brigadier-Generals and above) out of a total of 47.  That represents 8.5 percent of the total number of star officers compared to the 2.1 percent of total non-Malay participation in the RMAF, which is looking at increasing the number of non-Malays to a minimum of 20 percent of the total strength.

It is also important to note that among the operational officers, two non-Malay lady officers stand out the most.  They are Major Patricia Yapp Shau Yin RMAF and Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF.

Major Patricia Yapp Shau Yin RMAF attributes her success to discipline, hardwork and determination, not race nor gender.

Major Patricia Yapp who hails from Sandakan, Sabah is an examplary Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) who is the world’s first female pilot to fly the Russian-made Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N.

When asked if there is discrimination in the RMAF towards women or the non-Malays, she said the men and women all do the same field training, physical training and flying training. Women don’t get special treatment and are all evaluated by the same standard and are given the same opportunities. The key is to never give up trying after each failure because it has taken her a lot to be where she is now. It is all about discipline, courage, teamwork and commitment.

She is saddened though that during one of the recruitment drives in her home state of Sabah, she waited for half a day for Sabahans to turn up but none did during the second half of the day.

Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF flies the Lockheed C130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft

Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF also attributes her success to discipline, determination and hardwork.  The Melaka-girl is aware that some non-Malays say that she would fare better elsewhere, for example, in the Republic of Singapore Armed Forces.

It is not true that there is discrimination against the non-Malays in the RMAF,” she said. “There are those who are my seniors who are Malays who still hold the rank of Captain. Race has nothing to do with it.

It is only because the number of non-Malays are small that you do not get to see a huge number go up,” she added. “If you don’t work hard, you will not go up and it doesn’t matter what race you are. If you do not shine, no one will see you and you will remain where you are.

The RMAF has had many pilots flying the fixed and rotary winged aircraft in its inventory since its establishment.  Not once has the RMAF barred any non-Malay to be involved in handling any sensitive equipment or information.  The Army has, if my memory serves me right, produced 29 non-Malay star officers, the RMN 22 while the RMAF 19.

Compare this to our Southern neighbour.  The Malays have only been accepted into the Armour Formation two years ago.  In fact, the Singapore Armed Forces used to have or still has a discriminatory policy towards the Malays, not allowing them to hold sensitive key positions thus depriving them of promising careers in the SAF.

Such discrimination does not exist in the Malaysian Armed Forces, which have produced 70 non-Malay Generals and Admirals.  All is especially fair in the RMAF.

Therefore, there is no reason for the non-Malays to shy away from joining the Malaysian Armed Forces.  There is also no reason for the people of Sabah and Sarawak to feel as if they would not be able to compete against those from the Peninsular.  After all, Major Patricia is from Sabah.

And the current Chief of the RMAF is from Kuching, Sarawak.

Defence: Malaysian Army’s Firepower Training 2017

AV8 Gempita firing at targets assigned

The Malaysian Army conducted its 2017 edition of the Firepower Training at the Syed Sirajuddin Camp in Gemas with the aim to give exposure to 120 local and 45 foreign participants of the Malaysian Command and Staff Course on the Army’s manouverability and firepower, as well as the importance of ground and air-to-ground fire support planning.

The PT91M Pendekar Main Battle Tank firing its 125mm gun

A total of 1,690 personnel from the Army and the Royal Malaysian Air Force were involved in making this training a success.  Assets involved include:

  • 6 X 105mm PH L5 Pack Howitzer;
  • 18 X 155mm G5 Mk III self-propelled Howitzer;
  • 4 X ASTROS II multiple launch rocket system;
  • 6 X PT-91M Pendekar Main Battle Tanks;
  • 7 X ACV300 Adnan;
  • 4 X AV8 Gempita;
  • 2 X Agusta A109 LOH;
  • 2 X Sikorsky S61A4 Nuri helicopters;
  • 2 X F/A18D Hornets; and,
  • 2 X BAe Hawk 208s.

In his speech, Major-General Dato’ Hasagaya Abdullah, General-Officer Commanding 3rd Malaysian Combined Arms Division welcomed guests and course participants to the firepower training.  He added that commanders who consider employment of weapon systems should look at the doctrine and tactical concepts to ensure sufficient strength and correct calibre of systems are employed.

Major General Dato’ Hasagaya Abdullah, GOC 3rd Combined Arms Division

Among guests who attended the firepower training were the Chief of Defence Forces Yang Mulia General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi bin Raja Mohamed Noor, the Chief of Army General Dato’ Sri Zulkiple bin Hj Kassim, Deputy Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Hasbullah bin Hj Mohd Nawawi, and Deputy Chief of Australian Army Major-General Richard Maxwell “Rick” Burr.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force was represented by Commander of 1st Air Region, Major General Dato’ Mohd Faudzi bin Ahmad RMAF.

Major General Rick Burr, Deputy Australian Army Chief greets Malaysian generals

Major-General Burr was accompanied by Defence Adviser at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia Group Captain Wendy Horder RAAF.

Later, General Dato’ Sri Zulkiple said that he was very satisfied with the training conducted and results of the training will be scrutinised to address any shortcomings.  He added that despite budget constraints, he is thankful that the Government has provided sufficient funds for the upkeep and operating of available assets as well as for human capital development.

Two Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuris and a Agusta A109 LOH from the Malaysian Army Aviation, fly in formation above the Syed Sirajuddin Camp

There Is Honour In Honorary

A friend sent me the above article written by a former senior Armed Forces officer on the subject of “honorary” ranks.  I have taken the liberty to share the article below:

As long as I can remember and it is important that we consider this, the only other persons outside the military who donned military uniform were our royalty (the Raja Raja) in their capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the various Corps that made up our armed forces that included the navy and air force. It is largely a ceremonial position that is a common feature in several Commonwealth armies.

However, our country is unique. We have nine Raja Raja who in order of seniority act as patron to the corresponding senior unit they are assigned. It is more or less a permanent inherited position that is, a well-respected custom that remains unchanged to this day.

Military officers whether serving or retired are very proud of our uniform, ranks and military accoutrements. The king, who is also our commander-in-chief, by way of a formal document commissions us. We undergo rigorous training at the various officers training academies domestic and foreign to be commissioned as second lieutenants (one pip) as our initial rank.

It is a long and arduous journey as we progress through a maze of military requirements that consists of passing promotion examinations and career courses to earn a higher rank. Few ever qualify for the rank of general of various grades but as professional soldiers we serve our country and navigate the complex eco system of military service to excel professionally.

Those who served during the height of the Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation as front line troops bore the full brunt of those conflicts. Many of our comrades were maimed and others made the ultimate sacrifice. Thus the weight of history is borne by all who wear the military uniform, and whatever exclusivity it brings is defined by those who served and continue to serve our “tanah air.”

As military officers, we are very concerned that of late, politicians have begun dispensing “commission ranks” — colonels, generals and captains (navy) — among themselves which also extends to other celebrities such as singers, actors, sportsmen and social activists. None of these people have ever fired a shot in defence of the realm or done a day of military training.

Some even proudly display the converted Parachute Badge commonly referred as “Jump Wings” without doing a single jump. There are also cases where certain individuals have the audacity to don the converted maroon beret of our commando units. We adhere to the belief and convention that no one other than the Raja Raja have the right to this honour.

I think it is time we put a stop to these so-called honorary ranks and unauthorised use of military accoutrements. If there is a need for such ranks to be handed out then those chosen need to at least pass basic military training before even being considered for such an honour.

Otherwise, those “rewarded” dishonour the service of men and women, who have actually earned their ranks in the process of serving their king and country.

And lastly I would like to add that of late that large number of non military organisations have all gone “al military/police” by wearing military type ranks, insignias and camouflage uniform to the boot. Let’s keep the ranks of lieutenant, captain, major, colonel etc strictly for the military only.

The top echelon of these organisations have also chosen to wear the cross swords/kris an insignia normally reserved for our top generals and very senior police officers. By doing so they not only confuse the public but our soldiers and policemen as to their standing in protocol.

The country should have only two recognised institutions known as the uniformed service that’s the army and the police.

It’s about time our authorities do something about by having proper guidelines to this effect.

I am puzzled that a retired senior Armed Forces officer does not know that the provision for Honorary commissions exists in the Armed Forces Act, 1972.  I first came across this provision when I studied the Act for the Military Law subject during my Officer Cadet days.

Under Section 8 of the Act it says:

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may grant honorary commissions in the regular forces to such persons as he may think fit.

Honorary Colonels (Navy Captains), for example, are given to civilians whose position in his or her organisation commands assets of strategic importance to the Malaysian Armed Forces, such as the Malayan Railway, ports authorities, the MISC, TNB, Telekom etc., etc., and honorary ranks go down all the way to Honorary Captains (Navy Lieutenants).  The lower ranks include esteemed sportsmen and sportswomen and individuals whose charisma and value to the society would be valuable to the service they are commissioned into, such as to inspire the men and women of the service, to act as a bridge between the service and related civilian agencies, and also to promote the service in public relations exercises.

They are all given the honorary commission of the respective service’s volunteer reserve force.

Therefore you get sportsmen and sportswomen such as Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nichol David who have been commissioned into the Navy and Air Force respectively.  You have Dato Irmohizam Ibrahim, the Member of Parliament for Kuala Selangor who has been commissioned into the Navy.  He was selected for the honorary commission by virtue that he is the Chairman of the Lembaga Kemajuan Perikanan Malaysia and has been actively involved in promoting the Navy’s RAKAM (Rakan Maritim) initiative for the fishing community.

Why is this a big thing? Richie McCaw, the former New Zealand’s All Blacks Captain was made Honorary Wing Commander (Lieutenant Colonel equivalent) of the Royal New Zealand Air Force!

The Indian Air Force gave honorary Group Captain (Colonel equivalent) to Sachin Tendulkar, India’s cricket team captain.

These individuals are commissioned as honorary officers in the volunteer forces of the three services of the Armed Forces. These officers do not need to fire any gun as they do not have command status.  However, if there is a request and the command of the service the honorary officer is commissioned into, it would be at the expense of the honorary officer him/herself.

Nor do they get any remuneration from the Armed Forces except for the one-off RM1,000 for them to make their uniform and buy the accessories.  They are also not subjected to the Armed Forces Act and neither are they given a service number.

And it is not up to politicians to hand out ranks.  The commission is given by the Yang DiPertuan Agong on the advice of the Armed Forces Council which comprises of the Minister of Defence, a representative of the Rulers appointed by the Rulers Institution, the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, the Armed Forces Chief, the Chief of the Services, and two other members appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

The Colonels-in-Chief and Captain-in-Chief of the respective Corps or Service would have a say on the Honorary commission to be awarded by the corps or service they preside over.  For example, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor as the Captain-in-Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy has set the number of honorary commissioned officers at 50.  Therefore, the Chief of Navy has to carefully select the individuals the Navy believes to be worthy of such commission.

No wings are given out to these honorary officers unless they have such qualification.  There are cases where former servicemen have been given honorary commission for the role they play in bridging the society and the armed forces, such as Datuk Huan Cheng Guan, who was an other rank in the Royal Malaysian Air Force.  He received an honorary commission for his tireless effort in bridging the society with the armed forces.

If Datuk Huan had a jump wing when he was serving, there is no reason for him not to don the wing if he wears the uniform of an honorary officer.

If Khairy Jamaluddin is the one that is being referred to, then let it be known that he is an active reservist and had undergone basic parachute training and therefore deserves to don the wing on his uniform.  He is also a Brigadier General in the Askar Wataniah.

MS Dhoni, another captain of India’s cricket team was not only given an honorary Lieutenant Colonel but also the jump wings of India’s Parachute Regiment, the regiment he was commissioned into honorarily.

Just like in India, it is customary for any commander of any regiment, corps or service to award honorary jump or pilot’s wings to any individual that they see fit.

As for civilian organisations that have ranks similar to the military and police, I can see several that have that kind of rank.  The Angkatan Pertahanan Awam is Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force and plays a role during wartime in assisting in the defence of the country.  Therefore, it deserves the ranks.  Oddly, it uses military ranks up to Colonel and then use police ranks for star officers.

RELA uses civilian ranks akin to the police because they come from the same Ministry and RELA acts as a support organisation to maintain public order, security and safety.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), although a civilian organisation but like the police it is an armed service.  Its Director-General is appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong and plays the role of a paramilitary force at sea maintaining our sovereignty.  I see nothing wrong with them using Navy-like ranks because of the huge role that they play.

The MMEA is not like UK’s Coast Guard which is a purely search-and-rescue outfit, while the MMEA does law enforcement, maritime border control as well as search-and-rescue.

Perhaps, Lt Col Mohd Idris should also know that the Salvation Army uses military ranks and even have military training academies and corps.  However, I have yet to see anyone complain in the newspapers over such petty issue.

Therefore, why should we complain over something that is completely legal and is awarded by the Rulers?

Defence: Prime Directives 

The 19th Malaysian Chief of Defence Forces YM General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi bin Raja Mohamed Noor who took over command from his predecessor on the 16th December 2016 today delivered his Prime Directives.

He did so to 2,100 men and women of the Malaysian Armed Forces at the Kuantan Airbase on the 23rd January 2017.


He outlined four pillars that would ensure  the Malaysian Armed Forces remain a credible force in the eyes of friends and foes alike.

  1. We Are One basically requires all three services of the MAF to cooperate as an entity and that being different from one another should not be an obstacle towards achieving a unified objective.
  2. Professionalism Moulds Excellence is where every member of the MAF should strive towards enhancing their knowledge and skills as the goals of the MAF can only be achieved through having an edge in knowledge and skills.
  3. Potent Force requires efficient management of assets as well as human resources development through  which integrity would provide for effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation.
  4. We Strive To Do Good is about maintaining the image of the MAF through core values and code of ethics of the MAF. These values are based on spiritual strength, bravery and esprit de corps.

General Raja Mohamed Affandi’s message was broadcasted to all formation headquarters, divisions, brigades, bases and units around Malaysia via video conferencing.

In attendance were the Chief of the Malaysian Army, Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy as well as the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

He later greeted men and women of the MAF while having light refreshments with them after the parade.

Defence: The RMAF And TNI-AU Strengthen Ties

In another step for Malaysia into strengthening ties with its neighbours, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) plays its part by strengthening its cameraderie with its Indonesian counterpart, the Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU).

Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku AlHaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah as the Field Marshall and Commander-in-Chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces saw it fit to bestow upon the Chief of Staff of the TNI-AU, Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna, the honorary award of the Darjah Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera (PGAT).

To present the award on behalf of His Majesty was the Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato’ Sri Mohd Johari bin Baharum. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Defence in Kuala Lumpur.

Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna saluting Dato’ Sri Mohd Johari bin Baharum after receiving the Darjah Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera

ACM Agus began his military career in 1983 and became a A-4 Skyhawk pilot from the No.11 Squadron based at the Lanud Iswahjudi Madiun (Iswahyudi Air Force Base) in East Java town of Maospati in the Magetan Province. He was promoted to his current post in 2015.

ACM Agus who is on a two-day working visit to Malaysia also paid a coutesy call to the RMAF Chief, General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Roslan bin Saad TUDM at the latter’s office.

The ceremony was attended by senior officers from the RMAF, the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Malaysian Army as well as members of the TNI-AU delegation.

Good neighbours and brothers-in-arms: Chief of RMAF General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Roslan bin Saad TUDM having a chat with his TNI-AU counterpart Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna at the Ministry of Defence

Pertahanan: Terhempas Atau Pendaratan Kecemasan?

Helikopter Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri milik TUDM yang telah melakukan pendaratan cemas di SMK Balung, Tawau
Helikopter Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri milik TUDM yang telah melakukan pendaratan cemas di SMK Balung, Tawau

Hari ini saya diajukan beberapa soalan dari berbagai pihak mengenai kejadian yang melibatkan sebuah pesawat helikopter Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri milik TUDM di Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Balung, Tawau.  Untuk memudahkan penulisan, izinkan saya menulis dalam bentuk soalan-soalan yang telah diajukan kepada saya:

SOALAN 1: Media telah menggunakan perkataan “terhempas” namun pihak TUDM menggunakan istilah “mendarat cemas.”  Boleh Kapten terangkan perbezaan kedua-dua istilah tersebut?

Istilah “terhempas” menggambarkan suatu situasi diluar kawalan.  Sebagai contoh, pesawat mengalami kegagalan sepenuhnya fungsi alat kawalan yang mengakibatkan sesuatu pesawat itu terus jatuh diluar kawalan (uncontrolled descent).

Contoh-contoh dalam negeri yang terbaik termasuk kejadian helikopter terhempas yang mengorbankan Allahyarham Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis pada tahun 2015, dan kejadian helikopter terhempas di Sri Damansara pada tahun 1997.

Akibat kejadian “terhempas” kebiasaannya akan mengakibatkan kemusnahan total kepada kerangka pesawat, disertai kehilangan jiwa dan/atau kecederaan parah kepada majoriti penumpang.

Mendarat cemas” ataupun “pendaratan kecemasan” ialah suatu tindakan yang dilakukan sebagai respon kepada sesuatu kejadian kecemasan, contohnya respon juruterbang kepada kegagalan fungsi enjin pesawat. Dalam kejadian semalam pada pengamatan saya, juruterbang telah bertindak untuk cuba mendaratkan pesawat di suatu tempat lapang di antara dua blok sekolah menggunakan kaedah “auto-rotation” namun telah tidak cukup masa untuk mencapai kawasan tersebut.  Siasatan oleh pihak TUDM akan memberi lebih pencerahan mengenai kejadian ini.

SOALAN 2: Pada pendapat Kapten, apa punca kejadian? Adakah ia boleh dielak?

Semua kejadian boleh dielak. Namun kita tiak boleh menjangkakan sesuatu yang bakal berlaku walaupun semua langkah telah diambil untuk mengelak sebarang kejadian yang tidak diingini.  Contoh terbaik: Lewis Hamilton terpaksa keluar dari perlumbaan F1 di litar Sepang baru-baru ini walaupun sedang mendahului para pesaing lain akibat kerosakan enjin walaupun penyelenggaraannya amat baik.  Hanya siasatan terperinci dapat memberi gambaran punca kerosakan kepada pesawat Nuri tersebut dan juga kereta yang dipandu Lewis Hamilton tempoh hari.

SOALAN 3: Masalah teknikal dikatakan antara punca kejadian. Adakah wujud faktor tersebut atau Nuri itu sendiri tidak boleh diselenggarakan lagi kerana usianya yang sudah lanjut?

TUDM, sayap udara TLDM dan Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat mempunya rejim penyelenggaraan pesawat yang amat baik. Usia lanjut sesebuah pesawat itu tidak banyak memainkan peranan sekiranya penyelenggaraan adalah baik.

SOALAN 4: Adakah pesawat Nuri kita terlalu tua dan tidak sesuai lagi untuk latihan memandangkan komponen dan besi pesawat sudah uzur dan haus seperti didakwa sesetengah pihak?

Masih banyak varian Sikorsky S-61 yang masih digunakan di seluruh dunia termasuk juga yang digunakan oleh State Department Amerika Syarikat.  Malah ianya juga salah satu helikopter yang digunakan untuk mengangkut Presiden Amerika Syarikat.  Tentera Udara DiRaja New Zealand masih menerbangkan pesawat Hercules C-130 mereka yang sudah berumur 51 tahun. Usia pesawat bukan merupakan faktor.

SOALAN 5: Apakah sudah sampai masa Nuri digantikan bagi megelakkan insiden yang sama berlaku? Jika tidak, adakah Nuri masih lagi perlu digunakan?

Nuri adalah pesawat yang masih diperlukan.  Aset-aset Nuri TUDM juga kini diserapkan ke dalam Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat untuk tujuan “air mobility.” TUDM menggantikan pesawat Nuri bukan kerana usia atau masalah penyelenggaraan tetapi adalah kesesuaian peranan yang dimainkan oleh TUDM seperti Combat Search and Rescue, Special Forces Insertion and Extraction yang memerlukan helikopter berperanan khusus.  Pesawat Nuri juga telah melalui beberapa proses penambahbaikan kerangka dan avionics untuk menentukan ianya selaras dengan keperluan masa kini.  Ini termasuk peningkatan upaya gearbox, bilah kipas utama dan bilah kipas ekor dan pautan data digital. Malah peningkatan upaya pesawat Nuri dengan memperkenalkan “glass cockpit” atau kawalan digital sepenuhnya yang sesuai digunakan dengan teropong kegunaan malam (night-vision goggles) telah dilakukan untuk sesetengah pesawat Nuri.

Ini menunjukkan pesawat Nuri masih lagi relevan, terutama untuk tujuan pengangkutan saiz sederhana atau penghantaran platun infantri ke medan.

SOALAN 6: Apa nasihat, cadangan, pandangan Kapten kepada TUDM demi masa depan aset seperti Nuri dan keselamatan pengguna helikopter tersebut?

Kementerian Pertahanan perlu menentukan “end-user” mendapat bajet yang diperlukan untuk menentukan perolehan, pengoperasian dan penyelenggaraan aset-aset bukan sahaja TUDM, malah untuk Angkatan Tentera Malaysia amnya, dapat diteruskan dengan baik dan memenuhi doktrin Angkatan Tentera Malaysia.

Pesawat Sikorsky S-61A4 yang telah diserap oleh Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat
Pesawat Sikorsky S-61A4 yang telah diserap oleh Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat