Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong (photo, above) has urged members of the public to better understand the role played by the armed forces in preserving peace in the country.
This came after the tycoon Koon Yew Yin suggested that armed forces personnel should replace foreign workers at Felda plantations as one of the means to address the country’s bloated civil service.
“As you know, the armed forces personnel are doing nothing except eating and sleeping.
“In fact, almost all of them have never fired a shot except at target practice. Some of them should replace the foreign workers in the Felda plantations,” Koon wrote in his blog yesterday.
The blog post has since been removed, and Koon had received brickbats on social media platforms and from lawmakers such as Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari for allegedly disparaging the armed forces.
Liew said Koon’s writings and others like it show a lack of understanding in the role of the armed forces as a nation’s last resort – a point he had sought to address in his own writings that was published last month.
“To cite the Latin saying, ‘si vis pacem, parabellum’: If you want peace, then prepare for war. All parties should understand the concept of readiness of the armed forces as a last resort […]
“I urge all Malaysians regardless of race or economic class, whether civilian or military, to strive to understand the role and sacrifices of the armed forces, and to be careful in issuing statements,” he said.
In his column published in the New Straits Times last month, Liew had stressed that the primary role of the armed forces is to prepare for war, rather than being first responders in a disaster or “cheap labour”.
“Deploying the military has a cost usually unseen by the public or even government leaders. When on operations, military personnel do not really have time to dedicate to training.
“Being constantly in ops and not having time to train means that they won’t have the readiness needed in the event a military operation is called for.
“The nation, as well as the government, need to have clear strategic priorities and objectives for guiding the armed forces in their actions. As a society, we will also have to shed the idea that soldiers are an advanced version of cheap labour.
“The truth is, it is costly to train a soldier, and rightly so as wars are increasingly sophisticated and require highly skilled and smart soldiers.
“Each time we deploy them, we need to think of them as a special and highly skilled group and not as labourers at our free disposal,” he said.
He added that on contrary to the popular belief that armed forces members have nothing to do, they in fact train daily, involve themselves in exercises and border patrols, going on operations, and provide military operations other than war (MOOTW) to civil authorities.