A House of Cards?

By Masterwordsmith

Whilst brother rises against brother within our boundaries, is our nation able to fight the real enemies beyond our borders? With the astronomical proportion of the country’s wealth being spent on arms (real needs or unnecessary expenditure?) when we are at peace, the commissions being paid for arms/defense, we should be very safe indeed. But how safe are we in Malaysia?

Most of us do not realize the obscene expenditure on arms spending because it is such a gray area. Kua Kia Soong’s book “Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia: From Altantuya to Zikorsky” questions the purpose of this entire splurge on arms by the BN Government. It just does not make sense that our country spends so much on submarines, helicopters and other fighters when priority should be given to meeting needs in the health or education sector.

This research by Chin Jitkai, Liew Chin Tong and Nur Jazlan Mohammad argued that in recent years, Malaysia has steadily increased the overall defence budget and defence expenditures. They noted that there is a lack of transparency from MINDEF as most of the controls on defence spending are made internally. Secondly, not many NGOs pay particular attention to the issues of the defence budget and spending. Most MPs also lack expertise in defence related issues.

Singapore, our nearest neighbour with a population of 5.1 million (3.2 million) excluding foreigners, enjoys a per capita income of more than USD 37,293. Due to its size and location, Singapore’s expenditure on defense is premised on the belief that security threats do not disappear. In sharp contrast, Malaysia has a population of 27 million and a per capita income of USD6897!!! (Source: Wikipedia) Our country is much bigger but has a lower GDP and a very high military expenditure which has been a bone of contention for many concerned citizens.

This link at the World Bank says that the military expenditure of Malaysia is 1.96% of the GDP.

The World Bank says that Malaysia’s GDP was 222 billion USD in 2008.

Wikipedia‘s write up on the Malaysian Armed Forces states that the budget for military expenditure is 3.5 billion USD or 0.9% of GDP.

Yet, what are some of the scandals that have rocked our country?

1. The Missing Jet Engines

In December 2009, the Malaysian government faced a fresh corruption crisis after officials admitted that two US-made fighter jet engines had disappeared from an air force base after apparently being illicitly sold by military officers to a South American arms dealer. Read more here.

The Strategy website said:

Two of these engines power the six F-5 fighters used by the air force. Packed for shipping, the engine would be a box about eight feet long and weighing half a ton. At first, the engine was believed shipped out of the country, from a Malaysian air base, and sold into the black market. It was thought that the most likely customer would be Iran, which would probably pay a million dollars, or more, for it. Iran has been under arms embargos for decades, and is desperate to obtain spare parts. Iran has about sixty F-5 fighters, purchased in the 1970s. Iran has used the F-5 as the model for domestically designed and built aircraft. So they are definitely in the market for J85-21A engines.

But on further investigation it was found that the engine probably never left the country, but was instead taken apart, and the components sold to a South American broker, or back to the Malaysian Air Force. The government has promised to punish those responsible, but has not named names. Corruption is a common problem in the region, and stealing spare parts, or money allocated for equipment maintenance, is common.

Wikileaks revealed Putrajaya failed to inform Washington that two “US-supplied” F-5 fighter jet engines had gone missing since May 22, 2008, despite having at least “three opportunities” to come clean, according to leaked United States diplomatic cables released recently.