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Mat Sabu to Chinese: Enlist, no discrimination in armed forces

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Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has given his assurance that there is no discrimination in the armed forces and those who work hard in their careers will be rewarded.

Speaking at a dialogue organised by Sinar Harian, Mohamad agreed with host Johan Jaafar that the number of new recruits from the Chinese community was low.

"We will continue to hold campaigns. We know that enlistment is high among the Indian community but among the Chinese, we hope more will enlist," he said.

He said those who were disciplined and worked hard would be promoted as he himself had seen since becoming defence minister.

"I hope all ethnic groups will join the military because we are Malaysians. The responsibility for maintaining security does not belong to one race, it rests upon all Malaysians," he said.

On some of the major challenges faced by the military, Mohamad said housing was a big issue for servicemen and efforts to improve housing conditions were underway.

He agreed with Johan that the federal government currently faced budget constraints but said more funds would be allocated as the economy improves.

"Recently, the cabinet was briefed by the international trade and industry minister on the growing foreign investment numbers. We hope the economy will grow over the next few years and (therefore) funding for the military, including for housing, will increase," he said.

At this point, Johan said that military trucks were still being used to ferry the children of servicemen to school and asked what Mohamad could do about that.

Mohamad conceded that this still happened in some areas. "We will improve this over time and (provide) vehicles that are more suitable (for schoolchildren)," he said.

He added that Malaysia's military spending was "moderate" compared to many other countries and this had to be increased in the future when the country could afford it.

He, however, stressed that although Malaysia was enjoying peace, the military was battle-ready. "Even in cyber (warfare) and taking care of our airspace. A lot of it is now currently under control."

Umno-PAS union

On politics, Mohamad agreed with Johan's suggestion that Harapan was currently on the defensive. However, he believed that Harapan will break out from its defensive stance soon.

Mohamad said even when he was the deputy president of PAS, he was kept in the dark about attempts by some party leaders to forge an alliance with Umno.

He said PAS had in the 1970s held a special national delegates meeting to discuss plans to join BN. Similar discussions were also held before it forged an alliance with Semangat 46 in the 1990s and Barisan Alternatif in 1999.

"The toughest was working with DAP (in 2008). Some ulama agreed, some didn't. We had discussions, held retreats. Eventually, a decision was made. We had a tahaluf (an alliance) with DAP.

"What puzzles me is this, with Umno, why are they doing it in the shadows?" he said.

Mohamad was part of a large group of PAS members who left the party in 2015 to form Amanah, now one of the ruling parties.

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