Malaysia should make its own weapons, says Patriots chief

An RMAF pilot prepares to take off at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition this year. Experts say the defence ministry would need more funds to keep up with the growth of military strength in neighbouring countries.

PETALING JAYA: National Patriots Association president Mohamed Arshad Raji has called for the domestic production of weapons as a means of reducing defence spending.

Speaking to FMT, he said Malaysia spent a lot on the purchase of weapons from other countries and the government should start thinking of having them made at home.

“We don’t need to make planes, fighter jets and tanks,” he said. “We can start small by producing standard-issue weapons first.”

However, he said there must first be the political will to do so.

Arshad said he hoped the defence ministry would get a bigger allocation in the 2020 national budget than it had been getting in recent years, but added that he didn’t think it would because the current state of the economy might not allow it.

National Patriots Association president Mohamed Arshad Raji

Aruna Gopinath, a retired professor at the National Defence University, said the ministry needed more than last year’s RM15.3 billion to keep up with the growth of military strength in neighbouring countries.

She noted that Malaysia had fallen behind Vietnam and Indonesia.

According to Globalfirepower.com, Thailand is also ranked higher than Malaysia in military strength.

The website estimated that Malaysia’s military personnel currently numbered about 410,000.

Gopinath said that was hardly sufficient to take care of national defence.

“We should be equal or better compared to Indonesia,” she added.

She urged the government to improve the salaries of military personnel to encourage more people to join the armed forces.

She also said the defence ministry needed to spend more on the procurement of equipment.