BN failed to update defence policy in 2016, says Mat Sabu

Defence minister Mohamad Sabu urged MPs not to criticise the military officers who drew up the defence white paper.

KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has reminded opposition MPs that the defence white paper tabled at the Dewan Rakyat today was drawn up by top military officers and other experts.

“You can criticise us, but not the men at the top of the armed forces,” he said while wrapping up a debate on the policy document. He said the white paper took one year to draft, and contained the input of experts from several public universities and NGOs.

He said the policy document on defence was last updated in 2006. “It should have been updated 10 years later, but this was not done,” he said in response to criticisms by his predecessor as defence minister, Hishammuddin Hussein (BN-Sembrong) who had said that the white paper was a general version of the one from the BN era.

Several MPs from Umno, including Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) had said that the white paper did not contain any “wow factor” and “it was a waste of time” but RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) said that the white paper was not a product to “wow about” but was about national security. He also called on the opposition not to criticise the top officials who drafted the paper.

Mat Sabu said the white paper is a general document with the intention to prevent any future scandals. Details would be discussed and implemented later.

“This is the main document and it will be followed by supporting documents on plans to reform defence, as stated on the 30 building blocks in the white paper. Each paragraph will be discussed and turned into action,” he said.

Mat Sabu also responded to MP’s questions on the support for communism after supporters of Malayan communist party leader Chin Peng brought back his ashes to his hometown in Perak, and also about alleged support for the defunct Sri Lankan militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Mat Sabu said communism was not the main threat, but cautioned of the danger posed by those returning from the Middle East militant groups. “Some of them are prepared to become suicide bombers,” he said.