Review policies on troop deployment overseas, says ex-servicemen’s body

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Patriot’s Association said today the government needs to learn from the controversy over its deployment of troops to Yemen and review policies on troop deployment overseas.

Its president Brig-Gen (rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji said troop deployments overseas must be legally justified and that Malaysian troops must not be placed in harm’s way while overseas.

He was commenting on reports that there was no written directive from the Cabinet for Malaysian soldiers to participate in Ops Yemen 2, to serve alongside the Saudi coalition force in their war against Yemen since 2015.

“From the unsatisfactory and confusing explanation given by the ex-defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the National Security Council (NSC) had a role in that decision making, Patriot urges the chief of defence forces to come forward to explain whether the statement by Hishammuddin was correct or otherwise.

“This is important to put right the standard operating procedures, if any, relating to the deployment of forces overseas, other than those assigned on missions under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Arshad said the National Security Act 2015 stated that the primary role of the NSC was to formulate policies and strategic measures on national security. Its role was also to monitor the implementation of the policies and strategic measures on national security.

“The Act does not empower the NSC to declare war or to deploy our troops overseas.”

Patriot, he said, supported the decision by the Ministry of Defence to carry out an investigation into the decision-making process of sending troops to Saudi Arabia that was “deemed illegal and reconcile the wrongs committed”.

“Patriot encourages all generals and the senior echelon officers in Mindef to be well schooled in international laws and UN Conventions, in particular the international rules governing military operations.

“Formulation of a clear policy, procedure and process of troops deployment overseas, where all generals fully comprehend, is necessary,” Arshad said.