KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu today said the country’s defence level was lower than even Vietnam’s, a far cry from its position in the 1970s as number one in the region.
“This is shameful, especially in the international arena,” he said, adding that Indonesia was now first in the region.
“We will work hard to make Malaysia great again, to become number one,” he said during the question and answer session at the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (PH-Port Dickson) who asked whether there would be problems receiving allocations to carry out plans in the ministry.
Mohamad, popularly known as Mat Sabu, acknowledged that there had been interruptions in the flow of funds. For instance, he said, the Royal Malaysian Air Force had requested RM1.8 billion for the maintenance of the Sukhoi fighter jets but only RM1.1 billion was approved in the budget.
“They need major repairs,” he said. “I can blame the previous government, but this will not save the situation.
“Whatever weaknesses there were in the past, we will not repeat the same mistakes. If there are any loopholes which encourage corruption, we will ask the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate,” he said, adding that the ministry needed to move forward.
He said some of the assets were 20 years old and needed replacement or maintenance. He added that the ministry was looking to hire available experts or locals to do the job.
It was also carrying out multiple-way training exercises with the US, Indonesia and Thailand, he said.
On July 31, Mat Sabu revealed that only four out of the 28 Russian fighter jets owned by the RMAF were able to fly.
The defence minister added that the RMAF had 18 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKM and ten MiG-29 jet fighters.