Malaysia is prepared to negotiate with China over a dispute between them in the South China Sea, Bernama reported on Monday, citing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
As we are all aware, China claims virtually all of the 3.5 million sq. km of the waters of the South China Sea. Other claimants include Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines, while Indonesia is an affected party through China’s blatant and frequent incursions.
“China is also staking claim over the area. I said as a small country that needs oil and gas resources, we have to continue, but if the condition is that there must be negotiations, then we are ready to negotiate,” he said.
Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is determined by Article 57 of Part V of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that was adopted in 1982. A total of 167 countries and the European Union are parties, and that includes China.
Article 57 states that the breadth of the EEZ shall not exceed 200 nautical miles from the baselines that have been used to measure a country’s territorial waters. Our waters are very definitely more than 200 nautical miles from China’s baseline shores, in case the government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose advice the PM depends on, doesn’t know about our EEZ.
And only Malaysia has the sovereign right to explore and exploit, conserve and manage all the natural resources within its EEZ. Not any other country. Therefore by negotiating, are we not giving clout to China’s delusional nine-dash line?
Furthermore, there is a Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling made in the Philippines v China case in 2016 that has ruled against the latter’s claim over maritime areas within the nine-dash line. The Court ruled that China not only has China exceeded what is entitled under UNCLOS, but that China, among others, has no legal basis to claim rights to resources within the nine-dash line.
It is puzzling that the government does not know this, or has forgotten about it. I am surprised that it has also forgotten that the previous Pakatan Harapan administration in 2019 filed a formal submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, detailing information on the limits of its continental shelf, beyond its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China, as always, rejected Malaysia’s claim and asserted its sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea with vague and ambiguous arguments.
If China cannot respect our rights given to us through legal means, why should we even care about what they think of our waters? Or are we so hard up for them to turn the billions in MOUs from the PM’s recent visit there into contracts?
If that is the case, are we not selling off our sovereignty like during Najjb’s administration?
Laksamana Philip Davidson, Komander Tentera Laut Amerika Syarikat (USN) di rantau Indo-Pasifik semasa memberi kenyataan kepada Jawatankuasa Senat untuk Perkhidmatan Bersenjata berkata beliau risau dengan perkembangan cita-cita tentera laut China (PLAN) untuk mengambil alih kedudukan USN sebagai tentera laut terulung, di samping mengenepikan peraturan berasaskan perundangan (rules-based order).
Setakat penghujung tahun 2020, jumlah kapal perang PLAN telah mengatasi jumlah yang dimiliki USN dengan kadar 1.2:1. Menurut Pejabat Risik Laut USN (ONI), pada tahun 2015 PLAN mempunyai 255 buah kapal perang. Kini ia memiliki 360 buah kapal perang berbanding 297 milik USN. PLAN dijangka memiliki 400 buah kapal perang dalam tahun 2025 berbanding 355 untuk USN. Kapal-kapal yang diterima oleh PLAN kini adalah jauh lebih canggih berbanding yang pernah dimilikinya dua dekad lalu. Malah, kapal pembinasa Jenis 055 dikatakan memiliki sistem dan persenjataan yang mengatasi kecanggihan kapal pembinasa kelas Ticonderoga milik USN.
PERTAHANAN LAUT DEKAT/PERLINDUNGAN LAUT JAUH
China selama ini mengamalkan doktrin pertahanan laut dekat di mana aset-aset pertahanan adalah lebih sesuai untuk mempertahankan tanah besar China dari serangan luar dan mempertahankan Taiwan dari sebarang percubaan tentera asing untuk menawan pulau tersebut semula setelah ditawan semula oleh China.
Doktrin ini kini telah dilengkapkan dengan doktrin perlindungan laut jauh. Dalam situasi peperangan, China perlu tentukan penguasaannya ke atas laluan-laluan perhubungan laut (SLOC) yang membawa bekalan-bekalan barang-barang keperluan kepadanya. Untuk tujuan tersebut, ia perlu meletakkan aset pertahanan jauh dari tanah besar. Untuk menentukan penguasaan ke atas mineral dan khazanah dasar laut, Pengawal Pantai China (CCG) dikerahkan untuk mencegah kemasukan bot-bot nelayan serta kapal-kapal gerudi miik negara yang mempunyai tuntutan ke atas zon-zon maritim Laut China Selatan (SCS).
CCG yang baru-baru ini diberi kuasa untuk menggunakan kekerasan termasuk melepaskan tembakan ke arah mana-mana vesel yang dianggap menceroboh kawasan perairannya termasuk vesel-vesel penguatkuasaan negara-negara tersebut, termasuk milik Maritim Malaysia.
China menggunakan alasan memperkasakan tentera laut jarak jauh untuk memberi bantuan bencana kemanusiaan (HDR) dan lain-lain bantuan masa aman, tetapi ini merupakan konsep yang boleh bertukar kepada operasi ofensif jarak jauh untuk mencapai cita-cita perlindungan laut jauh.
Selain CCG, satu pasukan yang tidak boleh kita pandang remeh ialah pasukan militia maritim milik China (PLAMM) yang sering menggunakan bot-bot nelayan besar yang diperkukuhkan strukturnya. Anak-anak kapalnya diambil dari kalangan veteran tentera, dan setiap kapal mempunyai stor simpanan senjata api kecil. Dengan haluan yang diperbuat dari besi, kapal-kapal ini juga dilengkapi dengan meriam air, menjadikan mereka kapal-kapal yang paling berkuasa, mempunyai kebolehan untuk menghentam atau melanggar mana-mana kapal asing dan melakukan serangan.
Kedua-dua CCG dan PLAMM kini diletakkan di bawah naungan Angkatan Tentera China (PLA).
Melalui CCG dan PLAMM, kerajaan China berpeluang menulis semula peraturan kebebasan pelayaran (rules of freedom of navigation), perkukuhkan tuntutan-tuntutan maritimnya, menguasai sumber-sumber penting, dan memperluaskan jangkauan ekonominya di seluruh dunia.
SIKAP CHINA DAN PERSEDIAAN MALAYSIA
China mungkin tunjukkan sikap kerjasama dengan negara-negara serantau. Walaupun begitu, sikap China terhadap Vietnam dan Hong Kong boleh dijadikan iktibar.
Semasa campurtangan Amerika Syarikat dalam Perang Saudara Vietnam, China telah memberi sokongan kepada Vietnam Utara untuk mengekang pengaruh Amerika Syarikat dan Soviet Union di negara jirannya itu. Namun, pada tahun 1974 dan 1988, China telah bertempur dengan Vietnam untuk berebut terumbu-terumbu di Kepulauan Paracels dan Spratlys. Pada tahun 1979, China telah melanggar Vietnam sebagai tindakbalas pendudukan Vietnam di Kampuchea.
Walaupun sejak 2005 China lebih gemar menggunakan CCG dan PLAMM untuk cuba menguasai Laut China Selatan dan Laut China Timur (ECS), ia masih mengamalkan sikap ‘paksaan dan pencerobohan‘ (coercion and aggression) untuk menakut-nakutkan jirannya. Contoh termasuk sikap campurtangannya dalam hal-ehwal demokrasi di Hong Kong, persengketaan di sempadannya dengan India, dan juga tanpa ragu-ragu menenggelamkan bot-bot nelayan Vietnam.
Kehadiran 220 kapal PLAMM di Terumbu Whitsun adalah merupakan contoh terkini. Terumbu Subi yang ditambaknya pada tahun 2014 kini telah menerima tambakan tambahan dengan keluasan sekitar tujuh ekar. Kedudukan terumbu ini hanya sekitar 14 batu nautika (26 kilometer) jaraknya dari Pulau Thitu (Pag-asa dalam Bahasa Tagalog).
Dengan menggunakan CCG dan PLAMM, China cuba mencapai hajat untuk mengawal dan menyekat kemasukan kapal-kapal perang dan penguatkuasaan negara-negara asing ke kawasan-kawasan yang dituntut olehnya. Kemudian, ia akan gunakan PLAN untuk mengembangkan unjuran kuasa (force projection expansion) dan meningkatkan keupayaan mengekang pencerobohan kawasan (area-denial capability) di SCS dan ECS.
Filipina telah selesai membina sebuah pelantar mendarat (beaching ramp) di Pulau Pag-asa manakala Vietnam telah memperkukuhkan pertahanan udara dan pesisiran pantai di Pulau Sin Cowe sebagai tindakbalas terhadap sikap China.
Di sini kita dapat lihat betapa pentingnya peranan yang dimainkan oleh Maritim Malaysia dalam perairan Zon Kelabu. Sebagai sebuah agensi penguatkuasaan awam separa-tentera (paramilitary civilian enforcement agency), penggunaan aset-aset Maritim Malaysia sebagai respon untuk memintas aset-aset CCG dan PLAMM adalah lebih bersifat diplomatik berbanding penggunaan aset-aset milik TLDM. Aset-aset Maritim Malaysia memberi ruang untuk penyelesaian diplomatik manakala penggunaan aset-aset TLDM untuk tujuan yang sama dilihat lebih bersifat agresif.
Lebih banyak perhatian perlu diberikan terhadap pembangunan aset-aset laut dan udara Maritim Malaysia di samping aset-aset sokongan seperti pangkalan sendiri serta sistem Perintah, Kawalan, Komunikasi, Komputer, Risikan, Pemantauan dan Peninjauan (C4ISR) nya sendiri, untuk menentukan kedaulatan ZEE Malaysia terpelihara. Aset-aset ini perlu mampu bersaing dengan aset-aset CCG terutamanya bukan sahaja untuk mengekang kemasukan secara haram aset-aset CCG dan PLAMM, malah juga kapal-kapal nelayan jarak jauh (DWF) yang dilindungi kedua-dua buah organisasi ini.
Kerajaan harus sedar bahawa tanpa aset-aset ini, CCG, PLAMM dan kapal-kapal DWF mereka akan berleluasa di perairan kita, sambil menghalang dan mengganggu bot-bot nelayan tempatan. Usaha China menuntut kawasan dan khazanah milik kita sudah tentu akan merugikan kita, apatah lagi dengan kerosakan ekologi dan ekosistem laut kita yang dilakukan melalui penangkapan ikan secara haram, tidak dilaporkan dan tidak dikawal (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing – IIU).
Jika tiada usaha yang menyeluruh dan serius oleh kerajaan untuk membangunkan keupayaan Maritim Malaysia, trend yang dibawa oleh China akan mengancam dan menjejaskan bukan sahaja kedaulatan, tetapi juga bidang keselamatan (realm of security) bukan tradisi negara ini seperti ekologi dan ekonominya.
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.
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.
For GE14, Nurul Izzah has chosen to slander the Elections Commission. The last elections she chose to slander her opponent, Raja Nong Chik.
After a four-year hiatus, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh is back slandering LYNAS. The LYNAS issue went quiet almost immediately after the last general elections. Expect more demonstrations in the run-up to the next elections.
Whatever it may be, no matter if they win more seats or are able to hold on to the states they have been holding on to since 2008, the elections, according to the monkeys at Pakatan, will only get dirtier and dirtier. The country will, to use an ANALogy that the followers of Anwar Ibrahim might understand, “be deep in shit.”
But it is nothing new. Emperor Lim Kit Siang, the de facto leader of Pakatan said that the previous general elections would be the dirtiest in history.
Anwar Ibrahim even went to town to claim that 40,000 foreigners, emphasising on Bangladeshis, voted in the last general elections.
Not contented, he issued a statement through PKR’s mouthpiece:
Even Anwar Ibrahim’s good friend from abroad, Azeem Ibrahim, whose homeland was split into three in 1947 into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, joined in the circus to show his support for Anwar the Schizo.
Don’t get me started on how they claimed that during the vote counting process, some vote counting centres experienced “blackouts” that resulted in “the victory of the Barisan Nasional.” And like monkeys getting excited at the sight of a plastic banana, the Pakatan supporters converged onto the Kelana Jaya stadium for the ‘Blackout 505’ gathering to hear more lies by Anwar Ibrahim alleging that Bangladeshi, Indonesians and Filipino voters helped Barisan Nasional win.
However, four months later DAP’s Ong Kian Ming agreed with electiosn watchdog PEMANTAU that no blackout ever occured and there was no evidence whatsoever of any foreign voters tampering with the elections process.
And in an about turn, master liar Anwar said he never made claims that there were 40,000 Bangladeshis who voted during GE13.
And Nurul Izzah who went on a smear campaign against her opponent Raja Nong Chik which led to her victory against the very popular man decided to settle the case out of court and issued an apology to Raja Nong Chik.
Pakatan is trapped in its own doings. You have a “son of” who disguised himself as a Malay and now is disguising himself as a Pribumi; you have a puppet President of a party who is Malay first but instead of getting a Cina to masuk Melayu, he masuk Cina. You have the Secretary-General of a party who claims to have 10 steps to eradicate corruption but he himself was charged in court for corruption; You have a party President who admits to be just a seat-warmer for her jailed husband, wasting taxpayers’ money and voters’ time every time a by-election has to be held so her husband could contest to become a Member of Parliament.
And among themselves, they cannot agree on who is to lead the coalition. Their solution to that is to desigate three appointments which, in the real sense, has no difference whatsoever other than the spelling and how the are pronounced.
So, the reason GE14 will be another “dirtiest elections in the history of Malaysia” is simply because the monkeys in Pakatan will spew lie after lie to justify their existence, to gain sympathy, and to collect “donation” from monkeys who are stupid enough to part with their money after listening to lies disguised as “issues” that will eventually go quiet after the election is done, only to be brought back to the surface at GE15.
And these are the people who want to save Malaysia…hopefully from them.
Many may have wised up to their antics. But there will always be those who will remain as monkeys.
Many often question the purchases of military hardware by the Malaysian Armed Forces without once realising the need for those platforms. The purchase of the A400M airlifter by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) did not escape such criticisms.
This morning while many were asleep, a RMAF A400M aircraft was loaded with 19 tonnes of aid for the people trapped in Marawi City. This is the first Human And Disaster Relief (HADR) mission that involves the A400M.
The A400M is a new-generation airlifter that is capable of lifting 17 tonnes of payload more than the other large transport aircraft in the RMAF’s inventory – the C-130H, and is able to fly 200km/h faster too. It is said to be able to carry what the C-130H cannot carry, and land and take-off from where the C-17 cannot.
The Battle of Marawi that began on 23 May 2017 has killed not only the combatants but also innocent civilians. Apart from being caught in crossfires, 40 civilians are known to have died as a result of dehydration and a further 19 due to diseases contracted in congested evacuation camps.
Due to the good relationship between the Najib Razak and Duterte administrations HADR aid is being sent from Malaysia to assist the people of Marawi. 11 personnel from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) are also sent to assist in the distribution of the aid.
The A400M is captained by Lieutenant-Colonel Baharin bin Mohamad RMAF and is assisted by Major Wan Azrul bin Wan Azmi RMAF. The aircraft will take approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes to Cagayan de Oro and will be on ground for nine to ten hours. No refuelling is required for the aircraft to make its return leg unlike the C-130H.
It is without doubt that the RMAF had chosen the perfect aircraft, without which such mission would have required the utilisation of more aircraft and manpower, and a higher operating costs.
Many would have thought that President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte of the Philippines as a difficult man to come to a deal with.
When the President visited Malaysia last November, there were five Malaysians being held captive by bandits in the south of the Republic as a result of Kidnap-for-Ransom incidents.
Many criticised Najib Razak’s joining in Duterte’s karaoke diplomacy but as a seasoned diplomat and a leader Najib knew that it was Duterte’s way of asking him to loosen up before concluding business.
As a result, Duterte himself oversaw the rescue efforts and as a result the five Malaysians held as hostages were returned to their families.
Last night, as a result of another masterstroke conjured by both Najib Razak and another seasoned and internationally-respected diplomat Anifah Aman who worked behind the scene to secure the release of Malaysians held in Pyongyang since 7 March 2017.
This morning a Royal Malaysian Air Force Global Express jet arrived in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian embassy staff as well as their family members.
Anifah Aman was there waiting.
Speaking later to reporters Anifah said that the efforts to bring back the Malaysians showcases diplomacy at its best.
“There can be no substitute for diplomacy, for level-headedness in dealing with such situations, and this has served Malaysia well in this instance,” said the Foreign Minister.
He thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for placing his trust in the Foreign Ministry to lead negotiations with North Korea.
There is no substitute for level-headedness and skillful diplomacy, and definitely no substitute for a great leadership and solid friendship that delivers each time.
A few hours before Hillary Clinton conceded defeat, signs were everywhere that she was heading down the abyss. On Twitter people were talking about moving to Canada while the Canadian Immigration website crashed for reasons not yet known to us. Hillary finally conceded defeat making Trump the President-elect. The next four years of his Presidency is going to be worth watching.
I can understand how the supporters of the Democrats feel right now, my home state of Selangor fell to what was the Barisan Alternatif in 2008 and the first 24 hours was filled with uncertainties. In the end, it was business as usual albeit having to sufer the occasional water outtages as well as incompetent solid wastes collection contractors. Other than that the state runs on autopilot while the politicians in charge of the state are busy giving ceramahs non-stop.
Trump has promised to make America great again. To make America great again America’s military would also be made great. It also means that America’s businesses will be given priority over foreign-owned ones.
How does this augur for Malaysia?
Firstly, the Republican-heavy Congress would not pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as Trump sees the TPPA as a vehicle that would allow Asian businesses to take over the American economy. If it were to go ahead a major tweaking of the TPPA needs to be done – tariffs would be raised to favour the American economy and that would not go down well with the other potential TPPA partners. Anyhow, with the TPPA still not ratified, Trump is likely to hold to his pledge to withdraw the United States from the free-trade agreement. The good thing from that would be Malaysia’s continued hold on its protectionist policies aimed at preserving the Bumiputra rights as well as the protection for local industries.
Malaysia’s manufactured exports to the US saw an increase by 13 percent recently. With Trump favouring the great American economy, this would be greatly affected since Malaysia’s economy is 90 percent reliant on exports. Nomura Holdings in early July 2016 in a report titled ‘Trumping Asia’ bluntly said that if Trump wins, Asia loses. The Philippines would be the country in the South East Asian region that would be most affected by Trump’s Presidency while Malaysia is fourth after Indonesia.
It is not surprising then to see Prayuth Chan-O-Cha of Thailand, Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Duterte of the Philippines and Najib Razak of Malaysia visit China in May, September, mid October and end October respectively to strengthen economic ties and increase trade with China. These leaders must have predicted that the Democrats would lose to the GOP and knew that if trade is not increased with the largest Asian economic power these nations would stand to lose. Purchasing the Chinese corvettes was definitely a good decision now given that any purchase from the Western powers would come with lots of strings attached.
China is not without danger because of Trump’s Presidency. With levels breaching the USD 600 billion level, China is the US’s largest trading partner, and as President, Trump could impose punitive duties that includes a 15 percent tariff on China for a maximum of 150 days without having to go to Congress for approval.
Militarily, Trump had made a statement on China’s expansion in the South China Sea. “We have rebuilt China, and yet they will go in the South China Sea and build a military fortress the likes of which perhaps the world has not seen,” Trump said. “Amazing, actually. They do that, and they do that at will because they have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country.”
I am of the opinion that the term “We have rebuilt China” used by Trump is the large balance of payments deficit that the US has with China. If the US could ‘prove’ that China is a currency manipulator, which the US Treasury could easily declare without needing the approval of the Congress, it could trigger a range of trade restrictions against China – a form of pressure for China to ‘respect’ the US as required by Trump to make America great again. Which is why the visit by Najib Razak to China recently was not an act of ‘kow-towing‘ to a Big Brother, but rather saying “Malaysia is a friend, how can you (China) help us so we can help you?” China now needs its South East Asian neighbours as well as Russia as its allies.
We have stepped into an era that will be filled with surprises and not less scarily challenging. The only consolation is that George Soros who finances both the Hillary campaign machinery as well as the Opposition and pro-Opposition organisations in Malaysia will find it hard to thrive. Perhaps as a gesture of goodwill Trump should look into the affairs of the Open Society Institute and how its financing of the Arab Spring has given rise to the terrorist activities in North Africa, the Middle East as well as in South East Asia and take criminal action against the OSI.
As Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister said early this year, “We are all discovering Donald Trump, as he is himself: there is a stream of consciousness approach to policy pronouncements. One can only hope that it evolves towards addressing the strategic interests of the United States in the world.”
There may be a side to Donald Trump that we have not yet seen. Others with better insight into things would probably have a better read of his character. Of course, I am not talking about the Pribumi supremo. He never has anything good to say.
Trump would also need friends as China does, and he would look at nations with leaders who are level-headed as they are smart. I was about to end this post when I saw this Tweet on my timeline:
Apparently, not only is Najib Razak a golf buddy of Barack Obama. He is also Trump’s favourite Prime Minister, as signed on a photograph taken of the two of them. As I said, leaders have to have foresight and know what is best for the country he leads. And a line in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII that reminds me exactly of this situation:
Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.
I call that a masterstroke from a great Statesman.
“… there is no doubt about the wishes of a sizeable majority of the peoples of these territories to join the Federation of Malaysia.” (UN Secretary-General U Thant, 13th September 1963]
After World War 2, the British was economically and financially strained to maintain its colonies especially those east of Suez. It would be a matter of time before Britain would have to give up all of its colonies abroad, save for some of the smaller ones. The Cobbold Commission’s report agreed unanimously that a decision in principle should be taken by governments as soon as possible; that the new state should be called Malaysia; that the constitution of the Federation of Malaya should be adapted for Malaysia, instead of drafting a completely new one; that there should be no right to secede from Malaysia after merger.
Although the Tunku had asked the Malayan Commissioners to sign the report, he was still apprehensive about what “Malaysia” would do to his political position, and what kind of repercussions “Malaysia” would have on Malaya’s relationship with Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Malaysia Agreement was signed on the 9th July 1963. Although not sovereign nor self-governing, the leaders of both North Borneo and Sarawak were invited to sign it. Annexed to the Agreement were a number of Constitutional instruments that included admission to the federation of the three former British dependencies; state constitutions for Sabah (as North Borneo would be called), Sarawak and Singapore; a scheme to compensate officers retiring from government service in North Borneo and Sarawak.
A separate legislation ending British jurisdiction in North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore was enacted at Westminster. It did not provide for the separate independence of the three territories but transferred sovereignty to the new Federation of Malaysia (Commonwealth Relations Office and Commonwealth Office Briefs for Malaysia Bill, 1963 – Dominions Office DO 169/329). Therefore the self-rule given by the British to Sarawak on the 22nd July 1963 and the declaration of independence by Sabah on the 31st July 1963 were not a recognition of the independence of either Sarawak or Sabah, but an independence of the states in adherence to Malaysia (Ghazali Shafie’s Memoir on the Formation of Malaysia, p438). For all intents and purposes, both North Borneo and Sarawak remained as Colonies of Great Britain until the coming into operation of Malaysia.
If the appointment of a Chief Minister is to be taken as the point when independence had been achieved, Malaya would have been independent in July of 1955!
The late President Wee Kim Wee of Singapore, then a young Straits Times reporter, covered Sabah’s Merdeka Day and filed a report that, from all the obvious evidence, it was a declaration of independence within Malaysia.
Malaysia Day was supposed to have happened on the 31st August 1963. However, several last minute events forced Malaysia Day to be postponed.
1) a last-minute interference by British officials prevailing upon Iban leaders to demand for the post of Sarawak Governor whilst also keeping the post of Chief Minister, thus reneging on an earlier understanding that for the first two years, the post of either the Chief Minister or Governor should go to a Malay if the other was given to an Iban. The Tunku was livid and decided that Malaysia would happen without Sarawak. All the cabinet ministers of Malaya except Tun Razak agreed with the Tunku. Through Ghazali Shafie, Razak negotiated with the leaders of Sarawak and in the end Abang Haji Openg was the Governor designate, Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the Chief Minister, and Temenggung Jugah as a Federal Minister in-charge of Sarawak Affairs. Had it not been for Razak’s persistence, the Tunku would have had things go his way and Sarawak would not have been in Malaysia.
2) the protest by both the Philippines and Indonesia at the United Nations against the formation of Malaysia. They requested that the UN secretary-general, or his representative, should ‘ascertain’ the extent of support in the Borneo territories for Malaysia, that observers from all three governments should accompany the UN mission, and that the formation of Malaysia should be postponed until the completion of the UN report.
Led by Lawrence Michelmore (the American deputy director of the UN Office of Personnel) the mission consisted of Argentinian, Brazilian, Ceylonese, Czech, Ghanaian, Pakistani, Japanese, and Jordanian members of the UN Secretariat. It was accompanied by observers from Indonesia and the Philippines—an arrangement which the British government grudgingly accepted. From 24th August to 4th September they held public hearings in widespread locations and reconvened in Kuching on 5th September, past the 31st August 1963 deadline. This forced Malaya to change the date for Malaysia Day to 16th September 1963.
The UN report, which was published on the 14th September, was generally favourable to Malaysia. In his assessment of the mission’s findings, U Thant was in no doubt that ‘a sizeable majority of the peoples’ wished to join Malaysia, although he also rebuked the Malayans for fixing a new Malaysia Day before the mission had completed its work. Even before the survey was finished, however, Indonesia and the Philippines were attempting to discredit it and, on its publication, they rejected the report and refused to be bound by its findings.
3) was of the PAS Government in Kelantan wanting the Malaysia Agreement and Malaysia Act to be declared ‘void and inoperative.’ Kelantan argued that the Act would abolish the Federation of Malaya, thereby violating the Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1957; that the proposed changes needed the consent of each state of Malaya and that this had not been obtained; that the Sultan of Kelantan should have been a party to the Malaysia Agreement in the same way as the Malay rulers had been signatories of the Malaya Agreement of 1957; that constitutional convention called for consultation with the rulers of individual Malay states regarding subsequent changes to the constitution; and that the federal parliament had no power to legislate for Kelantan in this matter.
On the 14th September 1963 the Chief Justice ruled that both the Malaysia Agreement and the Malaysia Act were constitutional (Tan Sri Mohamed Suffian bin Hashim, An introduction to the constitution of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, 1972) pp 13–14).
By 16th September 1963, we are all Malaysians.
Looking back, I remember an article quoting Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Gilong relating his experience visiting Kuala Lumpur on the invitation of the Tunku, he said:
“Kami naik kenderaan yang dipandu. Bagi sesetengah anggota delegasi saya, itulah kali pertama mereka menikmati air paip dan tandas berpam.”
“Kami dibawa ke beberapa tempat dan kampung yang sudah mendapat pembangunan seperti jalanraya dan sebagainya. Saya sendiri apabila balik ke Sabah telah berkempen menyokong penubuhan Persekutuan Malaysia dengan memberitahu kawan-kawan mengenai pembangunan yang ada di Malaya ketika itu.
Katanya satu kejadian lucu ialah apabila ada anggota rombongannya tidur di lantai dalam bilik hotel mereka dan bukan di atas katil yang empuk.
“Apabila saya nampak, mereka memberitahu saya mereka ingatkan katil itu adalah untuk ‘tuan’, seolah-olah hanya orang kulit putih boleh tidur di atas katil dan anak tempatan tidur di atas lantai sahaja.”
“Saya beritahu mereka katil itu mereka punya untuk tidur di atasnya.”
(“We rode on a vehicle that came with a driver. For some members of my delegation, that’s the first time they enjoyed tap water (running water) and flushing toilets.”
“We were taken to several places and villages that have received development such as roads and so on. When I went back to Sabah I campaigned in support of the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia by telling my friends about the existing development in the then Malaya.
He said that one funny scene was when there were members of his entourage who slept on the floor in their hotel room and not on their comfortable.
“When I saw, they told me they thought it was a bed especially for the ‘master’, as if only the white people could sleep on the bed while the local people sleep on the floor.”
Such was how inferior the people of Sabah and Sarawak felt of themselves before Malaysia existed, and it was not that long ago.
I believe that there has been progress that has been made in both Sabah and Sarawak although there should be more. When I was working offshore, most of my drilling and marine crew are from Sabah and Sarawak, especially the Ibans. My last Chief Mate is a Kelabit from Bario, while one of our vessels’ Captain is a Kedayan from Limbang. In my opinion, both the Merdeka Day on the 31st August and Malaysia Day on the 16th September are equally important to us. Without the 31st August 1957 event, Malaysia would not have happened and I shudder to think what ill-fortune would have befallen the people of Sabah and Sarawak, especially with China, Indonesia and the Philippines staking a claim in both the states.
I also believe that the current Federal Government is doing all it can to fulfill the promises made back in 1963, an uhill task given that previous Prime Ministers, especially a particular former Prime Minister for 22 years, did not do much for the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
Let us concentrate on nation-building, and put aside state-nationalism as that brings about nothing beneficial to any of us. And let us not let hatred destroy us. Our forefathers who agreed to form Malaysia did so following the democratic system, and not through violent nor nonsensical demonstrations or coups.
And let us remember the famous words by the great Temenggung Jugah ak Barieng:
“Anang aja Malaysia tu baka Tebu, Manis di pun, tabar Di ujung”
(Let’s hope Malaysia does not end up like a sugarcane. Sweet at the beginning, bland at the end)
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