We cherish peace, veterans group tells Hisham

Mohd-Arshad-Raji-1

PETALING JAYA: The National Patriot Association today defended its statement on why non-Malays are reluctant to join the Armed Forces, following criticism from a minister who called its remarks “the politics of division”.

The association said its comments were an honest opinion, and were from the heart.

“It is to help those in authority to think deep into the problem, and think together with veterans, so that a more comprehensive strategy can be employed to attract non-Malays to join the security forces,” its president Brigadier-General (Rtd) Mohd Arshad Raji said in a statement.

“We would like to add, if our country was under real foreign threat, we would be the first to put on our uniforms and carry arms to go to the front line. We love Malaysia dearly.”

On Dec 19, the association had voiced support for the call by Armed Forces chief Gen Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor to increase the recruitment of non-Malays into the forces by 10% annually.

Arshad said then that one reason non-Muslims shied away from joining the Armed Forces was because there was now a distinctive division along ethnic lines.

He said non-Malays did not mind if their really deserving Malay subordinates got promoted, but “very much undeserving” officers had been promoted over the years.

He also said the military had become Islamic religion-centric over the years, and that these factors affected not only the military but also the police force and other public service organisations.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had slammed Arshad’s remarks, saying such statements were dangerous and an example of what people would see in the run-up to the election.

“This is something that we will see more of when the elections are close – the politics of division, hate, race and religion.

“This is a normal phenomenon by the opposition and people not supportive of the government. That is very damaging and dangerous.

“I want to advise them, if they want to bring up racial and religious sentiments, even in politics, there are limits,” Hishammuddin said.

Arshad however hit back at the minister’s words, saying the association loved and cherished the peace of the country.

“We are veterans and retired police officers who have contributed significantly to today’s peace.

“We fought against our country’s enemies. We served the king and country with pride and honour. We have among us officers who have been shot and injured. Some were awarded with gallantry medals.

“We would never want to see hate politics to destroy our beloved country,” he said.

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