Mat Sabu wants bigger allocation to beef up armed forces

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu says people do not realise the importance of large allocations for defence even at times of peace.

KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has urged Putrajaya to increase the allocation for his ministry to strengthen the armed forces.

At a press conference today, Mohamad, better known as Mat Sabu, said the allocations given to his ministry last year were insufficient compared to the defence spending of other countries.

He said that last year, Malaysia only spent 0.9% of its gross domestic product (GDP), or RM3.4 billion, on defence, a figure he described as modest and which needed to be improved.

“This country has 32.4 million citizens and 170,000 armed forces personnel to protect 329,000 sq km of land and 4,600 sq km of maritime borders but only spends 0.9% of the GDP in 2018,” he said.

In comparison, he said Finland spent 1.4% of its GDP, or US$3.8 billion (RM15. 8 billion), in 2018 for a population of 5.5 million.

“Norway and Denmark also spent 1.6% and 1.1% of their GDP, or US$6.9 billion (RM28.3 billion) and US$4.1billion (RM17.13 billion, respectively) on defence in 2018.

“Their populations are smaller than Malaysia,” he said.

Mohamad said that Singapore, despite only having 646 sq km of land and 150 sq km of maritime border, spent 3.1% of its GDP or US$11.4 billion (RM47.63 billion) on defence in 2018.

“This means (allocations) for defence in Malaysia is considered modest, not huge. This is different with countries which are also not at war (including) Japan and other developed countries.”

He added that the people did not realise the importance of large allocations for defence even at times of peace.