1.         INTRODUCTION

 

            The complexity and uncertain
challenges require the RMN to be able to respond quickly tailored to Malaysia’s
National Defence Policy (NDP). Thus, the RMN must be flexible and needs a
balanced fleet between East and West which offers credible options for
Commanders to make best decisions. At the same time, operational demands and
maritime security challenges are on increasing trend. Should the planning for
RMN development focus based on regional security or budget? A thorough study must
be conducted to decide which is the most importance. Many aspects of dimension
and requirement need to be carefully studied before a simple decision can be
made. A simple decision that carry the weight of a country. It is because of
today’s decision will cost the future of RMN. Thus, the top management need to
consider a lot of factor before any decision can be made.

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            Malaysia NDP indicated the
requirement that MAF need to adhere. RMN as part of the MAF play an importance
role to support the NDP. The development in RMN assets were strategically navigated
to meet all these requirements. The regional security of the SEA country known
with a lot of cases. Many security issues related with our country such as
piracy, cross border crime, humane trafficking and etc attracted attention of
foreign country like United State of America. Overlapping claim of disputed
area between bordering country also put our security force in a wary state.
Realising the military capability of our neighbours will give us some awareness
of the MAF capability. Can we defence our country with our current state? If so
how long can we keep the status quo? What is the future planning?

 

 

 

 

 

2.         DISCUSSION

 

            Based on Malaysia’s NDP Chapter 71: Defence Funding, A
defence allocation based on the country’s financial capability is needed to
ensure that the MAF continues to be able to meet any challenges against
national interests. In order to achieve the desired effectiveness, decisions on
defence allocation are made based on the following principles:

 

            a.         Affordability

 

            The
Government recognizes defence as an important function of governance.
Notwithstanding this the defence sector is capital-intensive and meeting its
requirements depends on national funding ability. The principle of
affordability is the basic consideration for deciding on the types of assets to
be acquired and projects to be implemented.

 

            b.         Allocation not based
on GDP

 

            The
allocation for the defence sector is not based on certain fixed percentages in
the national budget but on priorities and national funding availability. In the
interest of transparency all details of the defence sector allocation is debated
in Parliament during the tabling of the Supply Bill. Both the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) and the Dewan Negara (Senate) debate the defence
allocation prior to its approval.

 

            In the process of determining the
future of our defence capability, we must know what is the principles we must
adhered. The fundamental principles of defence are as follow:

           

a.         Self-Reliance.

b.         Total Defense
(HANRUH).

c.         Commitment towards
the Five Power Defense Arrangement.

d.         Support for the
United Nations’ efforts towards universal peace.

e.         Counterterrorism
measures.

f.          Defense Diplomacy.

 

            As stated in our NDP, the explanation
of each fundamental principles of defence are as follow:

 

a.         Self-Reliance. Malaysia
must depend on its own resources and capabilities to safeguard             its sovereignty, independence and
territorial integrity. Hence, the MAF must possess the ability to respond to
any enemy military hostility. This ability also encompasses logistics support,
human resources and defence industry. Therefore, the development of a viable
defence industry and the presence of defence science and research institution
are critical.

 

b.         Total Defence (HANRUH). Total
and integrated defence involves many government agencies, the private sector,
NGOs and the citizenry in all circumstances. National defence is not the sole
responsibility of the MAF but the responsibility of all levels of society. All
parties should know the role and contribution that they could play in times of
disaster and conflict. National defence has to be based on self-confidence and
not depending on external parties. Within this context patriotism and nationalism
among Malaysians always need to be nurtured and with the realisation that
national prosperity and peace override individual needs and political ideology.

 

c.         Commitment Towards The Five Power
Defence Arrangement.

Malaysia views the FPDA as a “safety
net” should events outside the capability of the MAF occur. Besides Malaysia,
the other FPDA members are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and United
Kingdom. The FPDA is the only multilateral defence cooperation which Malaysia
has been a member of since 1971. Although it remains untested at war or
conflict, the FPDA is an effective conflict management tool and has contributed
towards MAF’s development and enhancement of its professionalism.

 

d.         Supporting The United Nations’
Efforts Towards Global Peace. Malaysia fully
supports the effort of the UN and the international community to preserve
universal peace and security. Malaysia has adopted a proactive approach in
addressing global issues in line with its foreign policy. Malaysia’s
involvement under the UN’s banners started in 1960 in Congo. Now Malaysia is
actively involved in UN Peacekeeping operations as Military Observers,
Battalion Group, Headquarters Staff Group and UN Technical. MAF’s involvement
in UN missions is not restricted to peacekeeping only but also peace enforcement
and humanitarian assistance duties. Malaysia is a party to the UN Standby
Arrangements 1996 and as stipulated in the arrangement, party shall have an
infantry battalion on standby for deployment under the UN if necessary. Up to
now more than 25,000 MAF members have been involved in UN operations. Malaysia
is fully supportive of the various treaties and conventions on global arms
control and disarmament regime. As a party to the NPT and CTBT Malaysia
observes the ban on all forms explosions and testing with a view for a total
ban of such activities.

 

            Malaysia’s
commitment is in line with the spirit of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons
Free Zone (SEANWFZ) which came into force in March 1997.Malaysia also supports
the ban on the manufacture, development and stockpiling of biological and
chemical weapons in line with the Convention on the Prohibition of the
Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and
Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction 1972 and the Convention on the Prohibition
of the Development, Production and Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and
on their Destruction 1993. Additionally, Malaysia has taken the steps to ban
the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines upon
ratifying the Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling and transfer of
Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) in April
1999. Subsequently this was followed by the gazettement of the Anti-Personnel
Mines Convention Implementation Act 2000 and the destruction of anti-personnel
mines stock in 2001.

 

e.         Counter Measures Against Terrorism.
Terrorism remains a critical security issue for Malaysia.
The transboundary activities of terrorist groups involve a variety of ethnic
groups and nationalities. Therefore, any country could potentially be the
centre for terrorist activities. Malaysia is confident that comprehensive
actions at all levels are important to address and counter terrorism in its
infancy.

 

f.          Defence Diplomacy. Malaysia
recognizes defence diplomacy as an important effort towards conflict prevention
and escalation which could undermine peace and stability. Among the steps
towards this are confidence building measures, transparency, construction of
positive norms and establishment of channels of communication. These efforts
are implemented through joint exercises, information sharing, senior officers’
visits, exchange of officers and the provision of military education and
training facilities. Malaysia employs the defence diplomacy approach through
bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation:

 

(1)       Bilateralism.

 

There are many
similarities between Malaysia’s strategic interests and that of the other
countries in the region. As such Malaysia’s defence is closely linked to
developments in the regional security environment. Any regional geostrategic
shifts could impact Malaysia’s defence as any breakout of military conflict,
humanitarian disaster or socio-economic problem could spread to Malaysia’s
boundaries. The principal aim of defence diplomacy is to maintain good relations
with countries in the region especially members of ASEAN and to improve
cooperation as a means of ensuring security and stability. Malaysia will also
continue to enhance defence diplomacy efforts with extra-regional countries
through constructive defence engagements. Among the efforts made to enhance
diplomacy is the provision of opportunities for foreign military personnel to
attend courses in Malaysia through the Malaysian Defence Cooperation Programme
(MDCP).

 

(2)       Multilateralism.

 

Multilateral defence
cooperation is an important principle in establishing and enhancing regional
cooperation in the interest of peace and stability. It is now viewed as an
important avenue for addressing common issues while promoting transparency in
the region. Malaysia has adopted multilateral cooperation as an approach that
complements existing bilateral arrangements. Within this context Malaysia is
committed to its involvement in two existing multilateral forums namely ASEAN
and ARF. Malaysia’s involvement in ASEAN and ARF is important as both forums
are intended to ensure a peaceful and dynamic Southeast Asia. At the ASEAN level,
the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting is being enhanced by taking into account
other efforts including relations with non-ASEAN countries.
The ARF encompasses three levels i.e. confidence building measures, preventive
diplomacy and conflict resolution as the basis for multilateral cooperation.

 

            Military
capability can be measured through a few factors such as the equipment or
assets available in the inventory of certain military establishment. Nowadays,
the advancement of technology makes a lot of differences between a country
military capability. Previously the military capability of a country can be determining
by the number of military personnel they have. This statement become irrelevant
since the advancement of technology in weaponry field. Modern technology can
give an edge to any country who have the most modern and sophisticated weapon
and assets in their inventory. For example, Singapore compare with Malaysia.
From the aspect of man power Malaysia still superior than Singapore but if we
compare with their military assets the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is more
superior.

            According to Felix Heiduk (2017),
Malaysia’s 2015 defence budget was $5.3 billion. Since 2005 Kuala Lumpur has
thus increased its military spending by about 15 percent in absolute terms. Its
2015 military expenditure represents 1.5 percent of GDP and has thus markedly
dropped since 2005 (2.2 percent of GDP). Two external threats to its security
in 2013 and 2014 revealed gaps in the armed forces’ capacities, triggering a
domestic discussion about the need to modernize or expand, especially the air
force and navy. In 2013 a militant group from the southern Philippines entered
the Malaysian federal state of Sabah, which covers the northern part of the
island of Borneo. The few badly equipped Malaysian forces stationed in Sabah were
unable to repel this ‘invasion’ for some time. Like Vietnam and the
Philippines, Malaysia is also in conflict with China over who has sovereignty
over a number of reefs and islands, as well as the delimitation of its EEZs in
the South China Sea.33 Since 2013 Chinese fishing and coast-guard vessels have
repeatedly entered waters claimed by Malaysia. China held a manoeuvre at sea
near the James Shoal, which Malaysia also considers part of its territory.
These intrusions were forcefully condemned by the Malaysian defence minister,
and led to calls for the defence budget to be raised and for the navy and air
force in particular to be modernized.2

 

            In those history lesson, we learn
that many incidents that occurred due to our lack of readiness. Perhaps that is
what other country think about Malaysia. Nonetheless, our country still manages
to survive and manage to overcome the obstacle. The key to survival is
adaptation. Thus, it is very important for us to remain calm and make the right
decisions in order to save guard our national security. Throughout the Royal
Malaysian Navy (RMN) history from the beginning of establishment of the Straits Settlement Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
(SSRNVR) in Singapore on 27 April 1934 by the British colonial
government in Singapore until today, RMN had gone through a lot of
challenges. The establishment of RMN nowadays are a proof of its adaptability
to meet the challenges in order to survive the obstacles. Challenges may come
in many forms. However, it can be divided into two which are internal and
external. The internal challenges for RMN is regarding matters that cause
problem or obstacles. It can vary from human power, management, fund and etc.
Whilst the external challenges are the matters related to job performances of
RMN as a part or the Malaysian Arm Forces to protect the Malaysia’s
sovereignty.

 

            RMN existence are very important to
Malaysia as part of the defence forces. As a military body, RMN play many roles
during peacetime and wartime. History of RMN had stated many events involving
contribution made by RMN during World War II, Communist Era, Fighting Piracy at
Gulf of Aden, SAR of MH 370, Lahad Datu Incursion and etc. All these events
taken place within or outside our country and left witnesses who observed RMN
contribution during peacetime and wartime. All these missions were impossible
to complete but RMN made it possible with the man power and required assets
provided.

 

            ”And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and
of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and
others besides them whom you do not know but whom Allah knows. And whatever
you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not
be wronged (Al-Quran, Surah Al-Anfal, verse 60)”3.

 

            From the Islamic perspective, Allah had order for us to
make preparation for war and spend our fund towards it. The verse explains to
us how important it is to prepare for war and allocate our fund for that
particular purposes. However, the challenges that pose to RMN especially and
MAF generally are budget allocation for military expenditure. These phenomena
appear and affect all aspect of military especially RMN. The advancement of
technology, globalization, neighbouring country issues, country’s economy
condition, political issues are a few of the factor that contribute to the
challenges faced by RMN. The responsibility and ability to absorb and counter
the challenges fall on the shoulder of The Navy People. Each and everyone in
this service play an important role in ensuring that RMN can survive all the
challenges.

 

           

This
article will discuss about the future planning of RMN, whether RMN planning
development has to focus based on regional security or budget allocation. History
had recorded that RMN used to be a fearsome Navy in South East Asia region
during the 1970s.  During the
confrontation era Malaysia Arm Forces had expand its capability due to the
necessity to defend our country from outside threats. RMN during that time were
also get an expansion of its inventory of assets. Many ships and boats were
procured to support the requirement of defending the country. During that time
safety and security of the nation become the top priority. Although Malaysia at
that time was still a young country who just received its independent in 1957,
the nationality spirit among the citizen of Malaysia at that time defy the
boundary of races and religion. Learning from the bitter lesson of
colonization, all Malaysian stand together to protect its sovereignty.

 

            In those days, Military Expenditure were given top
priority due to the threats presents. However, we are currently living in a
peace and tranquil country. Threats are not visible to people’s naked eye. In
certain cases, the civilian sometime question what is the function military?
Why do they exist? What are their purposes? Many question came up from people
who does not understand the important of military role in a country. Although
we are currently living in a peaceful country, it does not mean that the threat
would not surface or our enemy has become our allies and our country will
remain as a peaceful country forever and ever. Fairy tale does not always has
good ending. By studying the history of war and genocide incident that occurred
in other country for instance Palestine and Israel, we can understand that even
if we provide assistance to other people like our neighbour it does mean that
they will become our friend forever. History of other country had though us well.
It is up to us to take the necessary step to gain knowledge and avoid any
future damage to our country.

 

            Malaysia geographic feature of maritime area are divided
in a few seas namely the Straits of Malacca, Straits of Singapore, South China
Sea, Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea. All this area is shared and bordered with the
neighbouring countries. This geographical factor become a challenge to RMN in
order to conduct operation in those waters. Previously the RMN Fleet Command
were located only in Malaysia Peninsular. A centralize command system which was
then supported with the Naval Region Area Headquarter located at strategic
area. As the RMN developed with the modern-day challenges, the necessity to
separate the command of the fleet for better and effective operational
performance between east and west of Malaysia water become a reality. In 2017
the Headquarter Eastern Fleet established at Teluk Sepangar, Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah was officiated during the celebration of RMN’s anniversary.

 

            The establishment of East and West Headquarters Fleet
give a better control of the fleet and operation conducted in both area. The
distribution of assets and man power also been executed strategically to fulfil
the necessity and welfare of The Navy People. Concentration of the force are
made specifically to meet the possible treats available in certain area. This
is very important to ensure effective and optimum decision can be made whenever
or whatever complex or uncertain challenges appear at our gate.

 

            RMN
is currently strengthened with 44 ships, in which majority of them are more
than 25 years old and built in various nations. 
Maintaining these ageing Fleet had proven to be a major challenge for
RMN over the recent years. The issues such as obsolescence and significant
increase in the maintenance costs had resulted to various implications to RMN,
both directly and indirectly.  Among the
significant ones were the increases in RMN’s Operational Expenditure over the
years, degrading capabilities of ships and high risk of operational hazards to
both men and assets.  On top of all
these, the limitation of funds also made the possibilities for the procurement
of new assets seems to be closed. Facing these challenges, RMN are forced to
think out of the box. Then, the RMN Fleet Transformation
Programme, which is also known as the “15-to-5” was introduced at the right
time by the Chief of Navy.

 

      Through
the “15-to5” Plan, the existing 15 classes of ships will be gradually replaced
to a much dynamic and manageable 5 classes, namely the LCS, NGPV, LMS, MRSS and
Submarines.  The NGPV and Submarine are
already in RMN inventory, while the LCS are being built with the first ship are
expected to be in action by 20194.  The procurement of LMS will be the starter of this programme, and will take place
in the nearest future. The 15-to-5
Plan can be regarded as an “Out of the Box” approach by RMN in transforming its
Fleet through the “Efficiency Savings” in order to achieve maximized savings. The “Efficiency Savings” in this case
does not confine solely to the financial aspect itself, but also focusing on
the implementation of good governance and best practices navy-wide to create a
dynamic and transformational organization.

 

      Moreover, the implementation this
programme is also believed to create various benefits for the
organization.  Besides enhancing the
capabilities and operational readiness of RMN, the implementation of this
programme is also believed to play a major role in nation’s development,
especially the local defence industries, as well as becoming a role model to
other agencies, both locally and also internationally. This just prove to the
world how RMN manage to use the challenges and innovatively changes it into
opportunity.

 

3.   CONCLUSION

 

      Based on the history and current situation
of RMN’s development we can conclude that regional security and budget play a
huge role in determine the track that RMN going to navigate. Both factors have
an intercorrelation effect with each other in determine the planning of RMN’s
development programs.  It is up to us The
Navy People to plan the safe track so that we can safely sail out from our port
to the next port. RMN is not a luxurious ship but it is a war ship. A ship we
use to defence and safeguard out maritime sovereignty. Therefore, the budget
will affect the condition of our ship. If we optimize the budget given to us in
a smart and economically we can manage the endurance of the ship so that
regional security issue can be handle effectively.