PM Najib says that there are 2.8 million RELA (Paramilitary People’s Volunteer Corps) in the country (Malaysia Chronicles, Saturday 28 Jan). That is a much bloated figure that far outmatched the collective strength of the Armed Forces and the Police put together. From my reading, there are only 500,000 odd Rela members.

Now, how and where did PM Najib pluck this number from? Does he not know what it takes to maintain such a large force? I think this figure even doubles that of the Indian Army. If indeed there are 2.8 million RELA members, then we don’t really need the Armed Forces and the Police…….. Just disband them and let the RELA take over the defence and security of the country. And with that kind of number, there wouldn’t be any more thieves, murderers and illegals in this country. Everything will be safe and sound, and it may cause some concern to all the neighbouring regional states.

And what really scares me was when PM Najib said that “when the chips are down, RELA will be with this government to defend the country”. What ‘chips’ is he referring to, and what is the threat that the government is trying to defend……external or internal security threat or a political threat from the opposition.

Please PM Najib, be weary with the kind of words and language used. What you have said can be interpreted to mean many things, and to people like me that had served 34 years in the military, I take it to mean that RELA would be your ‘final line of defence’; I suppose to be deployed to defend the country when both the Armed Forces and the police have lost their battle. And do you seriously think that when the Armed Forces and the police have been defeated, RELA can take over the defence and security of the country? I have serious doubts.

Now, there is already a move by the Home Minister Hishamuddin to arm the RELA. Yes, arming them may frighten Abu, Ah Kow and Muthu, but this will not frightened an enemy’s military force. It has taken years to build an Armed Forces and the Police with some credibility, and there is no way that RELA can be credible by just arming them to be trained once a week in basic weapon handling.

Defence and security training is not just about weapon training. PM Najib knows this very well for he was a long serving Defence Minister. And if someone were to ask me whether our Armed Forces and the Police today are well equipped and trained to defend this country against an external threat, my answer is one of skepticism. And if my answer is to be believed, then it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the Armed Forces and the Police attains an appropriate level of ‘force credibility’ as a matter of urgency.