Sinking the Mamak’s Tongkang

mamaktongkang
Indian seamen being rescued from a sinking vessel. This has nothing to do with this article but it shows the desperation

Every time I read Mahathir’s postings on his blog, I would imagine him writing it himself and then pass it to probably his trusted aide, Sufi, to do some research and fill in the blanks before passing it back to him for the final touch before the article is posted at chedet.cc.  The URL used to be chedet.com if I am not mistaken but due to some dispute with the previous administrators the URL is now the current one. The administrators, while working for him, displayed their support for another contender for the Ketua Pemuda UMNO post instead of for Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz.  Anyhow, the contender they supported lost the race, and so did Mukhriz.  Mahathir was furious when he found out that they did not support his son and as the story goes, the two quit without ever disclosing the password for chedet.com.

I have never worked for Mahathir or for any other politician for that matter. I just write whatever I feel like writing. But I don’t have the same privilege that is someone to do the research for me. So when I read his latest post The 2017 Budget I felt disappointed that the research done was just as good as mine if not worse.

Mahathir wrote:

5. Why will the Government not have the money? It is because Government money is not used for good governance, for the development of the country and the well-being of the people.

This is like shooting blanks. The East Coast Highway began construction in 2001.  The project was first announced in 1994 for a new highway that would stretch from Karak to Kuala Terengganu but construction was delayed due to the Asian Financial Crisis. When construction commenced, the highway was shortened to only Kuantan as a lesson by Mahathir to the people of Terengganu whom had voted PAS instead in 1999.  You should remember what I wrote in a previous article on how vindictive Mahathir was towards the people of Kelantan and Terengganu for their support for PAS then.  So, Mahathir too never spent money for the well-being of the people.  Only his cronies prospered whenever projects are implemented.

The 11th Malaysia Plan has lined up many projects that would benefit the youth, the handicapped, the minorities and those who live in traditional villages.  Three pilot projects will be implemented for the youths under the 1Malaysia Youth City program in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak.  For children between the age of 13 and 18 residing in welfare institutions they would be given the opportunity to undergo the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) to provide them with skill sets for them to face the world when they become independent.  A micro-credit scheme would be introduced to the Chinese community under the Chinese New Villages Special Loan Scheme program while a blueprint for the betterment of the Indian community will be prepared.

Six new hospitals will be built while three hospitals namely the Tawau, Kota Marudu and Miri Hospitals would be upgraded.  As it is, the Sri Aman Hospital would be completed as soon as possible. On top of that, 165 new Klinik 1Malaysia will be built nationwide to provide basic medical care for those in the rural areas.

Unlike under Mahathir, the Pan-Borneo highway that has begun construction will be toll free. Mahathir had had to make the people pay for the construction of highways despite claiming that the government had much more money under his administration and we in KL especially are still paying for the sins of Mahathir in the form of extended toll concessions to his cronies.  And for 22 years the people of Sabah and Sarawak had to endure endless ferry rides to get from one place to another while bridges have been and are being built under Najib’s administration despite not having any money as claimed by Mahathir. AND NO TOLL EITHER!

More Mass Rail Transit and proper extension of the Light Rail Transit to benefit the people in the Klang Valley have and are being constructed as compared to the time under Mahathir’s 22 years when the government seemingly had more money.  Double-tracking rail project, High-Speed Rail project and most recent was the announcement on the new East Coast Rail Link that would benefit the people of the very region Mahathir hated very much.

So where was your good governance or your concern for the well-being of the people back then?

Mahathir Wrote:

7. For this the Prime Minister has created sinecure jobs for a lot of loyalists. There are now nine Ministers, three Deputy Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department.

8. There are now 51 divisions in the Prime Minister’s Department. The budget allocation for the Prime Minister’s Department has risen from RM5.2 billion in 2000 to RM20 billion in 2016, a four folds rise. It is 13 per cent of the 2016 budget of RM267 billion. It was less than four per cent between 2000 and 2008.

The Prime Minister’s Department is being run by the Chief Secretary to the Government. It now includes agencies that were not there during Mahathir’s time such as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA/APMM) whose jurisdiction goes beyond the 12-nautical mile statutory limit of most of our Acts, enforces the EEZ but is not under the Ministry of Defence as it is not a military force. So who is to look after the development and the legislative requirements of the agency if not a Minister? The same goes for the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) which looks after the security of Sabah’s east coast from intrusion by foreign paramilitary units.  The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) also falls under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department and that has to be headed by a Minister as given by the Act.  The Istana Negara, the Parliament, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission, the Elections Commission, the Economic Planing Unit, they all come under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.  Not forgetting Mahathir’s own Secretariat Office for the Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad which did not exist prior to his resignation as the Prime Minister.  So is he complaining about the budget that the Prime Minister’s Department is giving his people so they can write lies and bite the hand that feeds them?  Maybe Mahathir’s cook needs to be pulled out. I don’t know what has the cook been feeding the old man that his mind has gone from that of a statesman to that of an estate’s man.

Mahathir Wrote:

10. Under BR1M, 7 million people got initially RM500 each. Now they are promised RM1,000. There will be more increases next year. 

11. At RM500 it will cost the Government RM3.5 billion. At RM1,000 it will cost RM7 billion.

12. Perhaps the very poor would benefit but for most of the recipients RM500 for a year is meaningless. The better thing to do is to give the really needy, the hard core poor sufficient monthly allowances to support their lives. For the rest create jobs and train them. But the Government is not encouraging job creation. Local industries are not supported. But imports are encouraged.

RM7 billion it would cost the government to give out BR1M.

BR1M would be chicken-feed for Mahathir. His cronies spend RM1,000 at Chawan in front of Bangsar Village or at the Bangsar Shopping Centre to feed his bloggers.

It may be a one-off thing but that means a staggering amount of RM7 billion gets circulated in the economy.  Being a layman my understanding of that would be that when there is more money in circulation, jobs are being created as people have more spending power. At RM500 or RM1,000 per person it may not seem much, but by having that extra money to spend encourages spending. Purchases will be made, demand is created, production needs to be increased, more business opportunities for new industrial players, and therefore more jobs are created.

It may not matter to Mahathir that it increases the disposable income of the lower income groups; it boosts consumer sentiments as it increases domestic consumption – the higher the amount of BR1M, the higher the domestic spending.  With subsidy cuts and spending more on BR1M Malaysia’s deficit has been reduced with a much larger chunk of the economic wealth going to those who need it the most.

And under the 11th Malaysia Plan the government is committed towards having 11,000 physically-challenged individuals to work for the government while in the five economic corridors in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak alone 470,000 jobs will be created.

Mahathir Wrote:

19. The level of borrowings by the Government has reached record levels. Future generations will have to pay these loans.

20. All these will not show up in the budget. But the people will know as they struggle to make ends meet.

Singapore has a US$1.76 Trillion external debt with a Debt to GDP ratio of 106%.  Our debt stands at RM630.5 billion (US$150.6 billion) while our GDP is at RM1.157 Trillion (US$276 billion) making our Debt to GDP ration 54.5%.  If Singapore is not panicking then why should we?

In fact, if we compare the first seven years of Mahathir’s administration against Najib’s we can see that we should have gone bankrupt (in the words of Mahathir’s lackey Kadir Jasin) when our Debt to GDP ratio was well over 100% for two years in a row!

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-04-44
Mahathir’s First Seven Years (1981-1987) with Hussein Onn’s Debt to GDP ratio in 1980 at 44% only

We could see that not only debt had increased during Mahathir’s first seven years, GDP also fluctuated and was at its highest point in 1987 yet debt was much higher!

Compare that to Najib’s first seven years and we can see

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 17.05.42.png
Najib’s First Seven Years despite the slump in oil prices in 2014 has seen an increase in GDP

As a matter of fact, the bad performance of Debt to GDP ratio during the 1986-1987 period under Mahathir was not the only time when the economy was in a critical situation going by Kadir Jasin’s definition, the country’s GDP was at negative 7% when Mahathir carried the country through the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 – which was worse than when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ran the country during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 which was at negative 1.5%!

So is Malaysia on the verge of bankruptcy?  “Although we were faced with the drastic fall in global crude oil prices in 2015/2016, which caused the government to lose more than RM30 billion in revenue, the country still recorded a positive economic growth which was 6% in 2014, 5% in 2015 and 4.1% in 2016 (6 months),” said Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani.

And despite losing that much revenue, the government could still finance its projects – thank you in large to the implementation of the GST which has allowed the government to have an alternative source of income and reduce the dependency on the the price of oil. To add the strawberry on top of that cake is that the inflation rate of 3.43% upon the implementation of the GST program has been reduced to less than 2% this year.


Perhaps Mahathir ought to fire whoever it was who helped research for that article of his.  Such a waste of allocation from the Prime Minister’s Department.  Seriously!

Oh! Why such a title for this posting?  Let me quote this rather amusing blog post:

Melayu Celup

Small in numbers, about 5% of the total Mamak population but rather loud and “glaring”. Though mostly from the 3rd Graded colony, they have graduated well and have an ability of a Chameleon (or think they can) with the Malays. Some examples of these low dignity Melayu Celups are Ahmad Rizal Naina Merican, Sheik Hussein Mydin and Zambry Kadir carrying the Mamak trade mark glaringly. But if they are lucky they will look like the controversial Sharifah Zobra or Mahathir Mohamed. Let me give you a secret, any names that ends with Naina, Kadir, Mydin, Merican, Pakir, Jabeen, Shaik, Mubarakh, Mohammad (no reference to the Prophet Mohamed S.A.W.) are downright, flat out, no doubt, true blue Mamak Tongkang or the immediate descendant’s.

I think the Mamak’s tongkang has just been sunk.

South China Sea: The Gatling Gun Approach?

China's build-up in the South China Seas brings this region closer to a conflict
China’s build-up in the South China Seas brings this region closer to a conflict

We need to look at what we see as the threats. What you see is the story unfolding in Syria and Iraq and which fighter is not there at the moment? You’ve got the Super Hornets, you’ve got the Typhoons and yet it is still unfolding before our very eyes. And secondly, the threat from IS is different from our traditional terrorist threats that we have faced in the past, don’t compare with the threats that we’re facing from IS.”

Those were the words uttered by the Malaysian Defence Minister on the eve of the recent Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition that concluded on the 21st March 2015. He added:

You will see the gatling gun that we have fitted on our A109s and maybe the threat that we face just requires a gatling gun.”

Many defence practitioners, analysts, journalists and bloggers such as I, felt as if the military had been let down when we heard those very words uttered on board the Royal Malaysian Navy’s frigate, KD Jebat.  Malaysia has been seeking for the replacement of the MiG-29N fleet for the longest time, and now it has been stalled again.  Furthermore, the fight against the IS is first and foremost a counter-insurgency warfare that falls within the purview of the Home Ministry, with the Defence Ministry in a supporting role.

It would be good to note, too, that missing from the airshow for the first time at LIMA ’15 are the Smokey Bandits, the RMAF’s aerobatics team that consists of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29Ns.  It was looked forward to, and missed by many.

In March of 2013, the PLA-N sent its largest and most modern amphibious assault ship, a destroyer and two guided-missile frigate to James Shoal (Beting Serupai), 80km off the coast of Bintulu in Malaysia’s state of Sarawak, to conduct an oath taking ceremony there.  The PLAN sailors and marines pledged to “defend the South China Sea, maintain national sovereignty and strive towards the dream of a strong China.”  Just 80km off Malaysia’s coast, this flotilla went unchallenged by the Royal Malaysian Navy or by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency vessels.

The RMAF Su-30MKMs are about the only MRCA capable of taking on the PLAN or PLAAF but lack miserably in numbers
The RMAF Su-30MKMs are about the only MRCA capable of taking on the PLAN or PLAAF but lack miserably in numbers

While the Minister focuses on the IS threat, which really should be looked at by the Home Ministry and not Defence as it involves counter-insurgency warfare, both the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force are in dire need of more capable assets.  Without the MiG-29Ns and the F-5E Tiger IIs, the RMAF is down to just 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers and 8 F/A-18 Hornets, supported by 14 BAe Hawk 208 and 6 BAe Hawk Mk 108.  Of course, that is if the serviceability rate is at 100 percent.

The Royal Malaysian Navy’s combat power is represented by 2 Scorpene submarines, 2 Frigates (with 6 to be constructed), 6 corvettes, 6 offshore patrol vessels, and 8 missile boats.  Although the Royal Malaysian Navy could give any enemy a bloody nose if required, without air superiority achieved, there will be a repeat of what happened to Force Z in 1941.  The RMN is also somewhat impaired given that its OPVs are fitted-but-not-with strike-capable weapons such as anti-air and surface-to-surface missiles.

The Kedah-class OPVs have been fitted-but-not-with SSMs (Photo courtesy of BERNAMA)
The Kedah-class OPVs have been fitted-but-not-with SSMs
(Photo courtesy of BERNAMA)

Underscoring its intention to subjugate the other claimants especially Malaysia, the Chinese Coast Guard was found in the vicinity of the Luconia Shoals, 150km off Miri, early this month.  With a large to cover, both the Royal Malaysian Air Force as well as the Royal Malaysian Navy are very much lacking in assets.

A Malaysian vessel intercepts a Chinese Coast Guard cutter at the Luconia Shoals off Sarawak, Malaysia - picture courtesy of WSJ
A Malaysian vessel intercepts a Chinese Coast Guard cutter at the Luconia Shoals off Sarawak, Malaysia – picture courtesy of WSJ

In his speech during the recent Air Force Day celebration, General Dato’ Sri Roslan bin Saad RMAF underlined three approaches to ensure that the RMAF stays on top of the game:

  • The amalgamation of assets and organisation: this approach gives focus to the readiness of aircraft and radar systems. Through the Chief of Air Force’s Directive Number 19, several action plans have been formulated to ensure that the serviceability rate for aircraft and radar systems remain high.
  • Enhancement of Human Resource: this is done by raising, training and sustaining the RMAF’s manpower by increasing its specialisation and competency levels.
  • Optimisation of Available Resources and Finance: this is by formulating a strategy to ensure that resources and finances are being managed properly and are well managed.
General Dato Sri Roslan bin Saad RMAF, the Chief of Air Force, delivering his speech at the Air Force Day parade at the Kuantan Air Base.
General Dato Sri Roslan bin Saad RMAF, the Chief of Air Force, delivering his speech at the Air Force Day parade at the Kuantan Air Base.

In my opinion, the amalgamation of assets should also include the reactivation of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N Fulcrum as well as the Northrop F-5E Tiger II fleets.  With limited funds available for the addition of more interceptors as well as MRCAs, perhaps the RMAF should get the MiG-29Ns back online in a reduced number. The final number of MiG-29Ns maintained by the RMAF was ten.  Perhaps eight is a credible size to maintain.  We know that engine hours is no longer the issue with the MiG-29Ns. If budget constraint is a concern, no upgrades are needed for now. They can still perform their MRCA role with what is readily-available, and perform as Smokey Bandits when needed.  It would be worthwhile to note that the Indian Air Force has upgraded its much-older MiG-29Bs to the MiG-29UPG, at par with Russia’s MiG-29SMTs but sporting western avionics.  I am more than sure that Malaysia’s Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation Sdn Bhd (ATSC) could propose an upgrade to the MiG-29Ns. These upgrades would be cheaper than a total fleet purchase which negotiations will take years to conclude.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) maintains more than 400 F-5E Tigers in its inventory while the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) maintains more than 200.  These old analog interceptors are based near where the threats are.  The most interesting point about the F-5Es are that they run on analog systems and require less time from cold start to interception.  Malaysia had about 16 F-5Es and 2 RF-5E Tigereye that could do Alert 2 standby for first interception while the Alerts 5 and 7s could come and back them up later.  Two squadrons could still be maintained perhaps in Kuching with an FOB set-up in Miri and Labuan for F-5E detachments.

The two suggestions above is for the RMAF to consider while it waits for budget and arrival of the new MRCA.

It is of no secret that while Dassault Aviation has been promoting its Rafale MRCA heavily in Malaysia especially, the fighter jocks of the RMAF prefer the F-18Ds that they have; and if any addition is to be made to its MRCA fleet, it should be the F-18Ds.  End-users’ opinions and evaluation must be seriously considered.

The other threat that faces Malaysia is the potential insurgency in Sabah’s ESSZONE.  While “helicopters with Gatling guns” may be considered an answer, a helicopter is slow to get away from a fire-fight.  Time and time again we have seen how rebels in the southern Philippines who are also responsible for the kidnappings as well as skirmishes in Sabah brought down military helicopters.

The real answer is in a platform that can deliver enough payload at high speed and conduct effective strafing of known enemy positions.  The RMAF should consider reactivating the Light Attack Squadron (LAS) that was used in counter-insurgency warfare in the 1980s and early 1990s.  The Pilatus PC-7 Mk II, while acting as the aircraft for the LIFT program (Lead-In Fighter Training), can also be used as both counter-insurgency warfare aircraft as well as in support of the roles taken up by the Hawks 108 and 208 as well as the Aermacchi MB-339CM.  Economy-of-effort has always been part of the Principles of War and still holds true today.  Having the experience in the LAS I believe will make them better pilots for the F/A as well as MRCA roles as they progress later.

RMAF BAe Hawks and Aermacchi MB-339CM light fighter/lead trainers flying past during the Air Force Day parade
RMAF BAe Hawks and Aermacchi MB-339CM light fighter/lead trainers flying past during the Air Force Day parade

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

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

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

The government should also allow the RMN to look into procuring available assets from the USN that are capable to deter PLAN assets from entering sovereign waters unchallenged.  Apart from capital assets. the RMN should look into converting some of its smaller assets such as the CB-90s and RHIBs into Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV) with 30mm stabilised weapons and targeting system complemented by a STRIKE-MR fire-and-forget missiles that could be operated remotely to conduct swarm attack on larger enemy units.  Using the USV swarm tactic, the RMN should look at the tactics used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) to sink larger Sri Lankan naval units.  Using the CB-90s as well as the RHIBs for swarm warfare at shoals and atolls controlled by Malaysia in the South China seas fits with the concept of “working with what we have and not what we feel we should have.”  Swarm forces can neutralise or deter larger forces from advancing further, while the USV concept does not need the unnecessary loss of lives to achieve its objective.

I urge the government to reconsider the budget put forth by both the RMAF and the RMN. Budget constraint should not be a reason the military is not allowed to enhance their current capabilities.  The warfare doctrine based on the principles of selection and the maintenance of aim must be respected if the Malaysian military, in particular the RMAF and RMN, is to achieve its objectives which mainly is to act as deterrence from potential belligerent forces.  If the RMAF and RMN are not allowed to be strong, Malaysia will always be bullied at the South China Sea diplomatically.