Recently Kluang Member of Parliament Liew Chin Tong slammed Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein for denying that an army camp was being built in Paloh, a state seat in the latter’s constituency of Sembrong. Liew Chin Tong implied that the army camp is being built for political purposes.
“This proves that Barisan Nasional (BN) is using these army camps to increase voters in constituencies that it won with thin majorities in the 13th general election,” Liew told a press conference last week.
He said the inclusion of the army personnel in Paloh would increase the electorate by over 1,000 voters.
“In Paloh, DAP lost only by a few hundred votes and these new voters will result in another BN win,” he added.
The fact is that while members of the Malaysian Armed Forces swears its allegiance to the Yang DiPertuan Agong, His Majesty’s Government (the Government-of-the-Day), and the Country, each member of the Malaysian Armed Forces are free to vote for whom they are politically-inclined to support. Therefore, having a military camp/base does not guarantee you any solid support for votes. I had written at length on this issue of allegiance in a recent blog post.
Perhaps it would be good for Liew Chin Tong to admit that he won Kluang against the Barisan Nasional in 2013 because of the presence of a huge army camp, namely Kem Mahkota, that houses the 61st Royal Artillery Regiment as well as the 881st Regiment, Malaysian Army Aviation.
Come to think of it, out of the 89 Parliamentary seats won by the then-Pakatan Rakyat during the 13th General Elections four years ago, at least 18 parliamentary constituencies have major military camps/bases in them. That is 20 percent of the total of parliamentary consituencies held by the Pakatan candidates. Here is the list that I have compiled:
Let us take for example the Lumut Naval Base which is under PKR. That base alone had 14,231 registered voters while PKR’s Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid won 40,308 votes. Why didn’t Barisan Nasional win there?
Perhaps Liew Chin Tong should also inform all Malaysians that out of the 18 constituencies with major military camps/bases that was won by the Pakatan back in 2013, eight seats were won by the DAP. That is 44 percent! Despite being the other “Malay” party within the Pakatan, PKR managed only seven seats or 38 percent. PAS could only get three then but one of those seats, Shah Alam, is now firmly under Khalid Samad of Amanah after he betrayed his oath to remain in PAS if nominated as a candidate and would divorce his wife if he jumps ship. Shah Alam is the home of a major Royal Malaysian Air Force base – Subang.
Pakatan and its supporters should just stop politicising the Malaysian Armed Forces. As towns and cities are developed, old camps and bases are no longer strategic nor conducive to be inhabited. How could Pakatan, advertising that it is all for rights and stuff, allow military personnel to live and work in deplorable and antiquated conditions? And as development creep into their surrounding areas, military bases are no longer of any strategic value. I have addressed this issue in a posting of mine and so has my friend Danny Liew in his recent posting.
So, wouldn’t DAP now like to offer a piece of land in constituencies held by it for Hishammuddin to build military bases or camps?
The Royal Malaysian Navy has recently laid the keel for the third Littoral Combat Ship (to be named Shariff Masahor after the Sarawak warrior who fought against the White Rajahs) at the Boustead Naval Shipyard in Lumut. This will be the third of six LCS planned by the RMN as part of its ’15 to 5′ transformation programme.
Dogged by having as many as 15 classes of ships with an average life of 15 years, the current RMN fleet is supplied by seven different nations, causing logistical and financial nightmares for the operators. As a result, the RMN cannot have the kind of force projection that it envisages.
The transformation programme allows the RMN to reduce its current classes to just 5 classes of ships namely the LCS, the Littoral Mission Ships (LMS), the Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS), submarines, and the patrol vessels (PV).
The LCS, with its ability to perform complete multi-mission 3-D operations, will be the obvious class to spearhead the Royal Malaysian Navy. The six vessels, based on the Gowind 2500 corvette design, will fulfill the operational requirements in both the blue and littoral waters of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
All six vessels are and will be built at the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS), which is a bit unorthodox given the need for a good project risk management as not to repeat the disaster caused by a previous builder. The GMD of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC), Vice-Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor TLDM (Retired) said that the project team from both BNS and Naval Group have taken the necessary measures to prevent such failure to occur in this project.
Commonality between classes is also key to the success of the 15-to-5 programme. Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Hj Ahmad Badaruddin TLDM said that all the classes will have major items that are common to ensure the availability of vessels. Most importantly, these items are being supplied by 104 local vendors and that in turn has created thousands of jobs and endless learning opportunities for locals.
“The Navy is determined to show that not only does it give opportunities to local companies, but also help build the local defence capabilities to reduce reliance on foreign companies,” said Ahmad Kamarulzaman.
The Navy hopes to have up to 12 LCS, 18 LMS, four submarines, 18 PVs and three MRSS to fulfill its doctrine requirements. It is believed that the PVs will consist totally of the Kedah-class NGPV while two more Scorpene submarines will be acquired depending on the funding from the government. It makes a whole lot of sense to have the Kedah-class expanded as Malaysia is already in possession of the builder’s plans, while the acquisition of two more Scorpenes would be a lot cheaper as the infrastructure as well as logistics support are already in place.
In observation however, if all these vessels are already in service, there is only so many number of vessels that the Navy’s bases can handle at any given point of time. I believe that the PVs will all be deployed to the Second, Third and (soon) Fourth Naval Regions, with major assets such as the LCS and LMS divided between the First and Second Naval regions.
How The Royal Malaysian Air Force Fits In
Commonality is another goal the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) hopes to achieve. Recently, RMAF Chief General Tan Sri Dato Seri Affandi bin Hj Buang TUDM celebrated his first year as the service’s Chief. Although dogged with several incidents of crashes, it has not diminished his team’s aim to elevate the RMAF’s ability as a force to be reckoned with. Only the cut in defence budget has curtailed some of its plans for expansion. The withdrawal of the MiG-29Ns from the frontline has stretched its frontline capabilities too thin.
Although the reintroduction of the MiG-29Ns back into service was thought of as an interim measure before getting its direly-needed MRCAs, this was not agreed by the government as it does not want to see its pilots flying aircraft that may endanger themselves. This would also mean that the RMAF’s current LIFT, the Hawk 208s which are in their 23rd year of service, will soon have to go.
The 15-to-5 programme of the RMN would not mean much without sufficient air cover for the Navy to keep the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) open, especially between states in the Peninsular Malaysia with Sabah and Sarawak. The RMAF is already in the process of looking for a suitable replacement for the Beechcraft Super King Air B200T MPAs. If commonality is a key to this, then we would either see the Air Force acquiring either more CN-235s, or opt for a stretched version which is the CN-295. However, given the different powerplant of the CN-295, a MPA version of the CN-235 sounds most viable.
Combat Air Patrols, or sufficient and adequate air cover is also critical to the success of the RMN’s 15-to-5 programme. However, current number of aircraft available to perform the task is limited as only the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30MKM would have the ability to get into the theatre in the shortest time compared to the BAe Systems Hawk 108s and 208s. Furthermore, the Su-30MKMs would have to undergo their 10-year maintenance and that would affect the number of availability.
As it is, the supersonic Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50/FA-50 LIFT cum light fighters are the most suitable for this role, as well as to take over the LIFT role from the BAe Systems Hawk 208s. I have written on the KAI T-50 in a recent article and still believe that other than its cost (said to be a third of a full-fledged fighter aircraft) the commonality that the KAI T-50 have with a type of aircraft that the RMAF is already operating is the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet as they use the same powerplant. Should the RMAF plan to acquire more of the Hornets, the T-50 would be the best option for the RMAF to consider acquiring as they can play the dual role of LIFT and advanced supersonic fighter far better than the Hawks ever could. The RMAF would be able to provide more capable birds in the air in a shorter amount of time while waiting for a much larger budget to actually acquire new MRCAs. The T-50s are combat-proven and have performed well in recent bombing missions against the ISIL-Maute group in Marawi.
Having the T-50s in Kuantan as LIFT/Advanced Fighters and as a advanced fighter detachment in, perhaps, Bintulu, would enhance the RMAF’s operational capability not just as a strike force, but also to provide air support for the Navy’s surface missions. The Chief of RMAF is well-known as a fighter and operations man, and is therefore the perfect person to make a case to fulfill the RMAF’s doctrine with the correct equipment needed by his frontliners.
The Royal Malaysian Navy is spot on when it decided to go with its 15-to-5 transformation programme that would see more lean-and-mean vessel types be introduced into the service. However, having a good surface capability without capable air support from the Royal Malaysian Air Force would limit its capabilities to keep hostiles away. Both services would need strong support from the government to ensure that force projection to deter opportunistic hostile forces can be achieved by both services.
Online “news” portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) today published a story on the level of preparedness of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) if faced with a situation such as Marawi, and got an expert opinion to strengthen its story.
While FMT was talking about clearly refers to the recent statement made by the Chief of RMAF, General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF, stating that the RMAF will be including urban warfare in its doctrine. This was a reply to a question by a journalist during the recently-concluded Exercise PARADISE 4/2017 in Kota Belud, Sabah.
FMT sought the expert opinion of a Dr Zachary Abuza, a political scientist at the National War College in Washington DC, who focuses on security and political issues in the region.
Dr Abuza instantly criticised the RMAF for not being prepared for urban warfare.
“RMAF’s training is based on preparing to face traditional threats. It’s birth was when fighting the MCP (Malayan Communist Party) in the jungles. It has never had to adjust its training.
“To me, this is understandable but reckless,” he said to FMT.
Abuza felt urban warfare preparedness and capability were still important.
“It’s not that the RMAF has to worry about an invasion, but what if a detachment of RMAF peacekeepers finds itself unexpectedly bogged down during an urban assault?” he was quoted by FMT to have asked.
It is clear to sharp readers that Dr Abuza referred to the RMAF as Royal Malaysian Armed Forces instead of the Air Force. Why would the RMAF have a detachment of peacekeepers anyway?
Therefore, it is forgivable that Dr Abuza had made such a criticism towards the RMAF as the Malaysian Army, which had numerous peacekeeping experiences under its belt. Although the RMAF and the Royal Malaysian Navy participate in peacekeeping missions, the main combat duties is shouldered by the Army.
And FMT being FMT, went to town and published the piece, hammering the Royal Malaysian AIR FORCE for not being ready for urban warfare.
The RMAF’s role in urban warfare is merely a support one, with the Army playing the main role on the ground. All the RMAF needs to do is to insert its Ground Laser Targeting Designator team into the combat zone and paint targets that are to be bombed by its fighters.
Other roles include dropping bombs or perform rocket strikes on targets marked by elements of the Malaysian Army, including interdiction strikes to cut off enemy supply and reinforcement lines, provision of air mobility in support of the Army Air Wing, or perform combat search-and-rescue of downed airmen.
The RMAF and the Malaysian Army have held countless joint exercises to enhance interoperability and coordination and it will take very little tweaking for the two organisations to operate in the urban environment.
Did FMT clarify its story before publishing? I doubt. Else we won’t see the faux pas today.
When the Royal Malaysian Air Force purchased the Airbus Defence and Space A400M Atlas, many thought it was to replace the Lockheed C-130H-30 that had entered service in 1976. 15 C-130Hs were delivered to the RMAF with 14 still flying.
However, the RMAF announced further upgrades to its C-130H fleet to keep them operational. The A400M’s role, although similar to that of the C-130H, enhances the RMAF’s airlift capability. Not only can the A400M carry 17 tonnes more payload compared to the C-130H, it can fly 200 knots faster and land on rough or soft landing strips like the C-130H.
Its glass cockpit/side-stick coupled with three-axis fly-by-wire (FBW) with flight envelope protection configuration makes the A400M user-friendly and is based on the A380 but modified to suit military operations requirements. The flight envelope protection allows the A400M to perform bank angles up to 120 degrees!
Not only could the A400M support the Malaysian Armed Forces’s tactical and strategic capabilities, it could also be utilised for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the region. To date, the RMAF’s A400Ms have performed two HADR roles: delivering 17 tonnes of aid to embattled Marawi in July 2017 and 12 tonnes of aid to the Rohingya refugees in south Bangladesh in September 2017.
The remarkable thing especially about the Marawi mission was the A400M’s ability to fly to Cagayan del Oro and back without refuelling (an approximately 5,400 kilometers return trip); this, together with its speed cuts down total turnaround time.
The A400M is equipped with the defensive aid sub-system and an in-flight refueling capability. The inflight-refueling package allows the A400M to refuel helicopters at 105 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) and fighters at up to 300 knots, hence safer for the refuelling of both helicopters and fighters. Flight tests have also revealed that at Alpha Max (with the Alpha Floor protection disabled, the A400M reached 98 KIAS before the FBW low-speed protection function eased the nose down. There was no wing roll-off or loss of control. Recovery was almost immediate when the nose was lowered and thrust added, underscoring the fact that the A400M is indeed a very safe and capable aircraft.
Maritime Patrol Aircraft – Budgeted For
For almost two decades the role of maritime patrol was assigned to several C-130Hs that were converted to C-130MPs. Four Beechcraft Super King Air B200T aircraft were inducted into the RMAF maritime patrol fleet to complement the C-130MPs. However, the high operational costs versus mission requirements of the C-130MPs saw the latter taking over the role completely.
Even before the loss of an airframe, there were already talks of replacing the B200Ts. Leonardo brought its ATR-72MP aircraft to LIMA ’17. Apart from the hardpoints and MPA modules on board, the ATR-72MP is just a normal commercially-available aircraft, powerplants and all. Leonardo’s concept is to provide a platform using what is available in large numbers in the market to keep the costs down.
Airbus Defence and Space flew a CN295 almost around the world to promote it as a multirole platform. The CN295, albeit a SAR version that was on its way to its new home in Brazil, made a stop in Malaysia and was presented to operators such as the RMAF, the MMEA, as well as the Royal Malaysian Police Air Wing.
Stretched three metres longer than the CN235 that the RMAF is currently operating, everything about the CN295 is very similar to the CN235, which makes crew conversion fairly easy to make. It comes with a more powerful plant that features better efficiency, longer loiter capability at station and comes with six external hardpoints for ASW weapons.
When the announcement of the budget for the procurement of four MPAs in 2018 was made, the immediate follow-through was that four of the RMAF’s remaining seven CN235s will be fitted with the MP systems from the B200Ts, a sure sign that either additional CN235s will be acquired for the MPA role, or the CN295s would be acquired instead.
The commonality between the C295 and the CN235 also potentially leads to even lower operating costs, given the versatile cabin configuration that allows fast switching of mission types, high manouvrability, better low-level flying capabilities given the high-wing configuration and a wide rear ramp, the C295 makes the best option for maritime patrol and surveillance as well as anti-submarine warfare missions in Malaysia.
The C295 is powered by twin PW127G turboprop engines driving Hamilton Sundstrand Type 568F-5 six bladed propellers which provide outstanding hot and high performance, low fuel consumption, and an endurance exceeding 11 hours. Flying at a maximum speed of 480 km/h which is slower than the B200T’s 540 km/h, but has a range of 5,600 kilometers compared to the B200T’s 3,100 kilometer range.
The RMAF’s need for a reliable platform that would be able to perform largely anti-shipping missions and has a reasonable but economical loiter endurance with some strike capability if required makes the CN295 a better choice of MPA. It also makes strategic and economical sense for Malaysia as it allows operators to narrow down its aircraft types and suppliers, making logistical and technical support easier.
UAV, MRCA and LIFT
Although the procurement of the badly needed MRCA to replace the MiG-29Ns have not been announced, the RMAF is making up for the void by ensuring high serviceability rate of its frontliners. Observers would note that the serviceability percentage has increased tremendously despite the cut in the defence budget.
Perhaps the RMAF should think of an interim fighter or Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) that gives the bang for bucks. The Korea Aerospace Industries’s TA-50 LIFT comes into mind. Each unit of the more advanced FA-50 costs half or three times less than a top-of-the-line fighter would but it carries enough sting to hurt the enemy.
Losing only but not much in terms of range to the BAe Systems Mk 108/208 that the RMAF currently deploys in Labuan to cover both the eastern South China and Sulu seas, the TA-50’s ability to reach supersonic speeds (Mach 1.5 compared to the Hawk’s Mach 0.84) and excellent thrust-to-weight ratio (0.96 to the Hawk’s 0.65) means that the TA-50 would make a better aircraft placed on Alert 5 to intercept straying foreign aircraft. Its superb ability to deliver air-to-ground as well as anti-shipping ordnances makes it a suitable platform to support anti-incursion/counter-insurgency operations in the ESSCOM area.
The RMAF is also interested to develop its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capability in both tactical and strategic aspects. RMAF Chief General Tan Sri Dato Seri Affandi bin Buang TUDM said that the RMAF is conducting a detailed study to identify the UAV capable of meeting the current needs of the country apart from being equipped with technologies which could be shared with various parties in the country.
“Besides security surveillance, UAV can also be used for other purposes such as weather information and others,” he said. “If the RMAF is able to acquire sophisticated UAVs we would be able to enhance our operations in the Peninsular, Sabah, Sarawak and also in support of the MPAs patrolling the South China Sea as well as the Sulu Sea.”
Hopefully the RMAF would acquire UAVs with extended on-station endurance with some hardpoints for strike capability.
Although the RMAF is still in want of frontline airframes, it is seen to improve its serviceability percentage, a task that seemed daunting in times of global econmic uncertainty, but certainly achievable. The plan to purchase capable Maritime Patrol Aircraft as per the 2018 Budget, and planned addition of sophisticated UAVs, will certainly enhance its control over the airspace.
It is hoped that the government could look into equipping the RMAF with interim strike capability, especially in the South China and Sulu seas, by adding a squadron or two of the KAI TA-50, if not a squadron each of the TA-50 and its frontline version, the FA-50, hopefully by 2020, before preparing its budget for the procurement of actual frontline MRCAs that are badly needed, not only as replacements of the recently-retired MiG-29N, but also as a contingency to replace the F/A-18D which is already in its 20th year of service with the RMAF.
The RMAF may seem to walk slowly, but it is definitely walking with big strides.
In 1982, 25 A-4C and 63 A-4L Skyhawks which were US Vietnam-era surplus were contracted for purchase costing less than USD 1 million each by the Malaysian government for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s use. Of the 88 airframes, 54 were to be converted to single-seater fighter-bombers while 14 were to be converted to two-seater versions for training and conversions. The rest would be cannibalised for spare parts.
However, the cost for re-engine, new avionics and stretching of some of the airframes made the cost of each airframe balloon FOUR TIMES the purchase price. The final cost of the programme for these second-hand aircraft was USD320 million (purchase cost was less than USD88 million).
The RMAF Skyhawks were designated the A-4PTM/TA-4PTM (PTM: Peculiar-To-Malaysia). Delivery of 40 airframes began on 23 February 1985, the then-Prime Minister took delivery of ten A-4PTMs and launched No.6 Squadron for the new used aircraft. The delivery was completed a year later.
Not many below 50 would remember that 1985 was a year of bad recession in Malaysia. This was admitted by the then Auditor-General Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin Zakaria who said that apart from the BMF financial scandal (that caused the live of Jalil Ibrahim), the recession also caused budgetary problems and affected the country’s balance pf payments.
But that did not stop the government from buying two more aircraft in 1985 namely the Grumman HU-16B Albatross which are seaplanes for use by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. Coincidentally, Grumman was the contractor that refurbished the A-4PTMs for Malaysia.
Interestingly, the Albatrosses were placed under No.2 Squadron which is a VIP communications squadron. The USAF’s last flight of the Albatross was in 1973, the last flight of the USN was in 1976 while the USCG last flew the Albatross in 1976. We bought the pair in 1985 but by 1987 I never saw them fly ever again. 466 were built since 1949 and the last airframe was buit in 1961. There is no way we had bought two new aircraft.
Only 40 Skyhawks were delivered to Malaysia between – 34 single seater A-4PTMs and six two-seater TA-4PTMs. The rest remained in the desert and some at the Marana Regional Airport in Arizona.
The A-4PTMs and TA-4PTMs started dropping out of the sky as soon as they entered service. One developed engine trouble in September 1985 while landing and exploded at the Kuantan airbase. The pilot managed to eject.
Three years later, four Skyhawks went down including one piloted by the current Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, General Tan Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF, while one pilot, Lieutenant Wahi Anuar RMAF remains missing until today after crashing into the South China Sea. I still remember how the annual exercise was put on hold in 1988 because of this incident.
Five more Skyhawks crashed in the following years. Four years after entering service, the RMAF announced that the Skyhawks will be replaced by the BAe Hawks 108/208 in 1994 making the Skyhawks the shortest-lived combat aircraft in the RMAF’s inventory. Six Skyhawks were retained as aerial tankers using Douglas D-704 external buddy tanks. They were taken completely out of service in 1999.
I wonder whose decision it was for second-hand Skyhawks and Albatrosses to be purchased by Malaysia. The Minister of Defence from 1981 to 1986 was Mahathir himself, who was replaced by Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi in 1986. Was the RMAF being used as a dumping ground for used goods while people made money out of the RMAF and the lives of its pilots?
Mahathir added, “In fact, if you were to ask me what is it I would want the United States to do with regard to economic policy, my honest and simple response is for the U.S. economy to get ahead and regain its strength, for the healthier and more vibrant the U.S. economy becomes, the better it will be, not only for the United States and Malaysia but all the developing countries in the world.”
So, it is wrong for Najib Razak to want to help improve the economy of the United States but not wrong for Mahathir to have done the same in 1984. I wonder whose individual economy also improved with the purchase of those second-hand aircraft?
If you think it was bad enough that we had paid USD232 million more for 88 Skyhawks that cost less than USD88 million but brought back only 40 which served the RMAF effectively for only nine years, you have not heared the full story.
In 2003, the RMAF decided to sell off the Skyhawks including the 48 airframes that were never brought back to Malaysia. To their horror, they were asked for a proof of purchase of the 48 that were left there! While the RMAF had the 40 they received in their inventory, the rest that were paid for never had any receipt produced – that is USD174.72 million worth of airframes that had no proof of purchase.
Even if the 48 were not upgraded, this still means USD48 million worth of defence assets procured using the RAKYAT’s money (to borrow a favourite Pakatan catchphrase) did not come with a receipt saying they are ours.
This also means that the cost of ugrading, which amounted to USD232 million, was only for 40 aircraft. That makes USD6.8 million the cost for each of the 40 Skyhawks that were sold to us for less than USD1 million each. Amazingly disgusting amount of money paid. Each upgraded Skyhawk could have given us three F-5Es and the total we paid for upgrading the Skyhawks alone could have gotten us 110 combat-ready Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs (combat-ready F-5Es were selling for USD2.1 million each) which still have operational status worldwide even now. We were already operating 14 F5-Es and two F-5Fs.
We purchased aircraft that were dangerous for our men and women to fly, for a price tag that defeats logic. What promise did Mahathir make to Ronald Reagan then?
And why are we not owning the remaining 48 Skyhawks that we have bought in 1982?
Pada hari Selasa bersamaan 12 Februari 2013, sekumpulan 100 orang bersenjata yang diketuai oleh Haji Musa, orang kanan Mohammad Ismail A Kiram, anak keempat kepada Muhammad Fuad A Kiram, seorang yang mengangkat dirinya sendiri sebagai Sultan Sulu, telah mendarat di Kampung Tanduo, Tanjung Labian, di daerah Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Menurut laporan asal, mereka berkumpul di sebuah rumah milik Ahmad Malandi, yang juga dikenali sebagai ‘Mat Bom‘ bukan hanya kerana beliau sering menggunakan bom buatan sendiri untuk menangkap ikan, tetapi juga kerana pernah menyerang sebuah pejabat FELDA di FELDA Sahabat dalam tahun 1990an dengan menggunakan bom ikan gara-gara tidak berpuas hati dengan pertikaian tanah pusaka dengan FELDA.
Saya pernah menulis bagaimana kumpulan pertama yang terdiri dari lima orang yang memakai jubah diiringi 27 orang memakai separa-celoreng telah medarat terlebih dahulu, diikuti sekitar 70 orang kemudiannya. Kesemua mereka bersenjatakan M-14 dan AR-15.
Pasukan keselamatan telah mula bertindak dengan Polis DiRaja Malaysia menggerakkan dua kompeni dari Pasukan Gerakan Am, dan disokong oleh pegawai dan anggota Tentera Darat Malaysia dari 5 Briged Infantri. Rundingan dijalankan pihak PDRM untuk memujuk mereka meletakkan senjata dan menyerah diri kepada pihak polis. Malangnya, pada 1 Mac 2013 para pengganas Sulu ini bertindak bertempur dengan pasukan Komando 69 PDRM di Kampung Tanduo, diikuti dengan serang hendap terhadap pegawai dan anggota Cawangan Khas PDRM di Kampung Simunul di Semporna keesokan harinya. Pada 5 Mac 2013, peringkat ofensif oleh Angkatan Tentera Malaysia dan PDRM telah dilancarkan untuk menghapuskan para pengganas tersebut.
Sungguh malang nasib balu dan ibubapa 10 orang para pegawai dan anggota PDRM dan ATM yang terkorban di Lahad Datu mempertahankan kedaulatan negara. Pengorbanan anak mereka, suami mereka, bapa kepada anak-anak mereka, diperlekehkan oleh mereka yang tidak berhati perut, hanya kerana kepentingan politik sempit mereka.
Baru-baru ini dilangsungkan perbarisan penganugerahan “Battle Honour Daulat Februari 2013” di Kota Kinabalu. Selain untuk menganugerahkan unit-unit ATM yang terlibat dalam Op Daulat dengan “Battle Honour,” ianya juga adalah untuk memberitahu kepada rakyat Malaysia, terutamanya di Sabah, bahawa kerajaan tidak memandang ringan tugas mempertahankan kedaulatan negara, dan juga memperingatkan semua bahaya pencerobohan yang dilakukan sama ada untuk peperangan konvensional mahupun peperangan asimetri.
Lewat ini kita sering dapati sesetengah pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab menyerang integriti serta moral pasukan keselamatan dengan menghina dan merendah-rendahkan kebolehan serta aset yang dimiliki pasukan keselamatan. Mungkin mereka merasakan bahawa di dalam mana-mana peperangan, mereka tidak akan merasa sebarang kesusahan.
Kita ketahui terdapat anggota ATM dan PDRM yang tercedera dalam pertempuran semasa Op Daulat dilangsungkan tetapi tidak ramai yang mengetahui mahupun dapat menilai pengorbanan yang dilakukan oleh pasukan keselamatan kita untuk mempertahankan kedaulatan. Ini bukannya cerita ‘Combat‘ mahupun ‘Rambo‘ di mana heronya akan mendapat luka-luka kecil tatkala bertempur, tetapi ada yang tidak sempurna anggota dan fungsi tubuh badan setelah terkena tembakan.
Berikut adalah di antara paparan yang mungkin tidak pernah dilihat oleh rakyat Malaysia sebelum ini, tetapi saya rasakan amat perlu ditunjuk supaya kita faham erti pengorbanan pasukan keselamatan kita.
Sekiranya anda merasakan hanya para anggota keselamatan kita yang merasa pahit maung pertempuran, anda tersilap. Realitinya amat berbeza sekali.
Apabila hospital medan didirikan oleh Kor Kesihatan DiRaja di kawasan operasi, orang awam yang terdiri dari para penduduk di situ yang telah tercedera ditembak secara rambang oleh pengganas Sulu berduyun-duyun datang untuk mendapatkan rawatan kecemasan. Di antara mereka termasuk kanak-kanak dan bayi yang menjadi mangsa keganasan pengganas Sulu. Mereka langsung tidak berperi kemanusiaan terhadap para penduduk timur Sabah sedangkan mereka kata Sabah adalah hak mereka.
Rentetan daripada insiden di Lahad Datu inilah kerajaan mewujudkan ESSCOM untuk memantapkan kawalan keselamatan di timur Sabah. Menteri Pertahanan Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein berkata inisiatif terbaharu kerajaan ialah dengan menempatkan 7,000 anggota Tentera Darat dengan perlaksanaan Op Daratan, Op Balasah, Op Khas dan Op Pasir bagi mempertahankan daratan Sabah. Satu kompeni infantri Tentera Darat juga telah ditempatkan di kawasan Cenderawasih, Lahad Datu untuk memastikan kawasan pantai Lahad Datu terkawal sepenuhnya.
Tambah beliau lagi, inisiatif Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) telah dilancarkan oleh Malaysia bagi memastikan mana-mana anggota militan termasuk Da’esh tidak menjadikan Laut Sulu sebagai laluan tikus untuk menceroboh masuk ke negara ini manakala inisiatif Trilateral Air Patrol (TAP) akan dilaksanakan dalam masa terdekat.
Jangan kita lupa siapa musuh kita. Jangan kita bersekongkol dengan mereka yang bersahabat dengan musuh yang tidak senang dengan kemerdekaan dan kesenangan yang kita kecapi. Jangan kita termakan hasutan politik kebencian (politics of hate) yang diamalkan oleh sesetengah pihak yang sanggup berbaik-baik dengan musuh untuk mendapat pengiktirafan mereka.
Jangan kita lupa pengorbanan pasukan keselamatan kita. Jangan jadikan pemergian mereka, dan juga pemergian para penduduk yang menjadi mangsa kekejaman pengganas Sulu sebagai pemergian yang sia-sia. Berikanlah sokongan tidak berbelah bahagi kepada pasukan keselamatan kita, terutamanya Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, kerana musuh tidak membeza-bezakan di antara tentera dan rakyat Malaysia.
Bising FELDA akhirnya tertangkap ambil komisyen juak hotel felda ialah Zahid Md Arip Pemimpin Pusat Parti Bunga Raya…kini mula terdedah pula kes kapal selam rupanya Mahathir dan anaknya di belakang sebenarnya SCORPENE : Perjanjian Pembelian Dibuat Sejak Zaman Mahathir Lagi
Razak Baginda tidak ada sewaktu perjanjian kapal selam diadakan, yang ada adalah Mahathir.
Ini kerana perjanjian kapal selam itu sebenarnya sudah dirangka dan dimeterai ketika zaman pentadbiran Mahathir Mohamad dulu sebagai Perdana Menteri dan bukannya pada zaman Perdana Menteri sekarang, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Perkara itu direkodkan dalam hansard sidang Dewan Rakyat pada tahun 2002 lagi. Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan telah memaklumkan Dewan Rakyat mengenai kontraknya apabila perkara itu dibangkitkan di parlimen.
Mahathir yang kini adalah Pengerusi PPBM jangan buat-buat lupa berkenaan perjanjian membeli kapal selam itu.
Masa itu, Timbalan Menteri berkenaan telah menyatakan dalam dewan yang mulia di Parlimen jumlah yang dibayar kepada syarikat Malaysia bukannya komisen tapi kos perkhidmatan, penyelenggaraan dan latihan.
Kedua-dua mereka Perdana Menteri, Mahathir, dan Timbalan Perdana Menteri pada masa itu Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sebenarnya tahu apa yang berlaku.
Bahkan sebelum itu Mahathir sudah meninjau kapal selam dari Perancis ketika Pameran Maritim dan Udara Antarabangsa Langkawi (LIMA’97) 1997. Tiga kapal selam dari tiga negara iaitu Rusia, Perancis dan Turki turut menyertainya untuk ditinjau oleh kerajaan pada masa itu.
Kemudian selepas meninjau kapal selam Perancis di LIMA 97, setahun selepas itu Mahathir menulis surat pada Michel Rocard, Perdana Menteri Perancis berkaitan hal kapal selam.
Dalam buku bertajuk “Surat Terpilih Dr Mahathir Kepada Pemimpin Dunia”, mukasurat 218, menyatakan pada tahun 1998, Perdana Menteri, Perancis dan Mahathir bertukar-tukar empat pucuk surat.
Dalam kandungan surat itu menyatakan bahawa Malaysian Airlines (MAS) akan mendapat lebih hak mendarat di Paris, dan Malaysia akan mendapatkan dua kapal selam buatan Perancis iaitu jenis Scorpene yang akan dihantar pada 2009.
“Seramai 145 orang pegawai Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia (TLDM) sedang dilatih di Ecole Formation de Sous Marine di Brest, sejak 2005.
“Dua kapal selam itu akan diletakkan di pangkalan di Sepanggar di Sabah apabila ia sudah beroperasi nanti,” kata surat itu.
Ini bukti jelas, rundingan untuk pembelian kapal selam ini dibuat sejak zaman Mahathir lagi. Dua hari lepas, Mahathir kata dia tidak tahu menahu tentang pembelian kapal selam. Mahathir memang sengaja buat buat lupa dan tidak mahu mengaku.
Pembohongan Mahathir tidak boleh ditutup. Jangan cuba menipu orang yang mengetahui urusan rundingan kapal selam itu.
Bekas Pegawai Penyiasat Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM) Kapten (B) Abdul Rahmat Omar Tun Haniff pula mendedahkan pembohongan Mahathir itu.
“Mahathir boleh memperbodohkan pemuda seperti Ketua Armada PPBM) Syed Saddiq, mereka yang lebih matang mengetahui perkara sebenar.
“Lampu hijau bagi pembelian Scorpene diberikan oleh Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan sejak 1995 lagi” katanya.
Sejak 1995 lagi, sebab itulah pada 1997 pada pameran LIMA 97 ada kapal selam dari Perancis datang ke Langkawi. Kemudian pada 1998, Mahathir dan Perdana Menteri Perancis berutus surat berkaitan pembelian kapal selam itu.
6 tahun selepas itu, pada 2002, kontrak pembelian kapal selam bernilai RM3.7 billion diluluskan oleh Perdana Menteri pada waktu itu.
Malah lebih mengejutkan bila bekas pegawai penyiasat ketenteraan, Kapten (B) Abdul Rahmat Tun Haniff mendedahkan anak Mahathir dan Daim terlibat dalam urusan kapal selam ini.
“Penyokong asal program kapal selam Malaysia adalah Mokhzani Mahathir dan Ibrahim Mohd Noor (pada ketika itu CEO syarikat yang baru disenaraikan BERNAS, bertindak bagi pihak Daim Zainuddin)” kata Abdul Rahmat.
Hari ini, Mahathir mahu pertikai kenapa Malaysia beli kapal selam. Tidak patut hendak pertikai lagi bila Arab Saudi sendiri sudah mahu belajar dan berkongsi kepakaran dan latihan kapal selam dengan Malaysia.
Sesudah gagal gunakan isu 1MDB, DoJ dan lain lain lagi untuk jatuhkan Datuk Seri Najib, Mahathir kena cungkil balik cerita kapal selam untuk dijadikan isu. “Desperate” dah Mahathir ini.