Status of the Defence White Paper under Perikatan Nasional

I would like the Senior Minister of Defence Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to confirm to Parliament the current status of the Defence White Paper (DWP). The “100 Days Report Card” released by the Defence Minister recently is only a show of daily activities in conducting the MCO in various stages; however, it has done little to clarify the way forward for the Ministry and MAF in dealing with other equally pressing strategic challenges. Even though the handling of the MCO to combat COVID has been an important and delicate task, it is not the only responsibility of the Minister. The Minister would do well to remember that on 12th March, he has gone on record to acknowledge the DWP as a guiding document.

The former Defence Minister, Saudara Mohamad Sabu, and I had already pushed for preparations earlier this year for implementing the changes heralded by the DWP. We were due to discuss these changes and plans in the last week of February, just as the Sheraton Coup was launched. The original implementation plan was to follow six major pillars: Improving Readiness and Capability, Enhancing Defence Personnel Competence and Capacity, Ensuring the Welfare of Service Personnel and Veterans, Enhancing Civil-Military Cooperation, Developing Science, Technology, and Defence Industry, and Strengthening International Cooperation. These pillars would be guided in implementation by several cross-cutting guiding principles, which are impact / mission-oriented changes, emphasis on integrity and good governance, being a catalyst for change and innovation, employing data-centric methods, and adopting a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. 

The Perikatan Nasional government has to do more than show it is capable of handling day-to-day activities. It must be ready to deal with longer term questions and systemic issues to provide directions for the Armed Forces and the nation. Acknowledging the DWP as the guiding framework helps clarify future directions.

*Media Statement by Former Deputy Defence Minister, Liew Chin Tong; on Monday 1st July 2020 in Kuala Lumpur.

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