Monday, April 1, 2013

Ex-general: They tried to make me cut ties with PR but my friends also want to JOIN!

Monday, 01 April 2013 09:59Written by  Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Ex-general: They tried to make me cut ties with PR but my friends also want to JOIN!
UPDATE 3 Pakatan Rakyat announced the formation of an advisory council on public security (Majilis Penasihat Keselamatan Rakyat of MPKR) to advise its leaders as well as share information with the public on national defense, security as well as procurement matters - issues that have concerned Malaysians in the wake of the recent  Lahad Datu intrusion by a group of foreign armed militants.
The formation of the council will also blow open the lid and bring into public domain and evaluation Malaysia's hush-hush defense matters, which have traditionally been shrouded in top secrecy and fiercely protected by Prime Minister Najib Razak's Umno-BN coalition via a slew of legislation including the Official Secrets Act.
"The people have the right to know. Look at Europe, even the students in university know and discuss freely their government's purchase of armaments. In every purchase, there is often great debate by all the various stakeholders and groups. And this is where we should be heading. Transparency over issues that concern the people and their future. It's only secret when something costs 1 million but the price is inflated and recorded at 5 million," Johari Abdul, the PKR MP for Sungai Petani, told a press conference on Sunday
High-powered panel of experts and practitioners
The council will consist of a high-powered panel. The chairman is likely to be a former top military officer with a general's ranking, while the 7 proposed members are to be experts with in-depth knowledge and experience in defense matters, military research and doctrine, law, mass media, economics and finance, the academia as well as former officials who have worked in the United Nations or who have been involved in exchange programs with other countries.
"We are vulnerable in terms of security when we do not synergize our efforts. There can be wastage, delay. Coordination and integration - that will be our main focus," said retired top army general Md Hashim Hussein, who was also at the press conference.
Clear pool of talent to tapped. BN tried to stop Hashim but his friends now "also wanted to join''
Later at the sidelines of the press conference, Hashim revealed to reporters who crowded around him attempts by the authorities to get him to renege on his ties with the PR. However, he is sticking to his guns.
"In fact, many of my old colleagues and friends called me when they saw the news I would support PR. They all said they also wanted to join," beamed Hashim, who once wielded enormous power as Armed Forces No. 1 man.
For the media, Hashim's return to the limelight -  along with 4 other retired generals - has been an eye opener, impressing even the seasoned journalists. All men are not only sharp and serious as befitting their former high rank but extremely articulate and knowledgeable about Malaysian as well as world affairs. While they may have achieved their pinnacles in the military, it is clear their talent and ability may not have been fully tapped and utilized.
Najib's Umno party has often been accused of sidelining top Malay talent to protect the position of its elite leaders and their offspring. The sudden out-springing of suppressed talent as manifested in the active participation by the retired generals in the Opposition's call for reform is the latest evidence that prominent Malays too are alarmed at the direction the country is taking under the Umno-BN.
"I am a professional soldier but when I see things are not going right, for example when Pakatan Rakyat requested for a special Parliamentary session over the Lahad Datu intrusion, I though that was a right move because you can demonstrate national solidarity in jointly condemning the invasion by a foreign party," said Hashim.
Filling the vacuum created by Umno's refusal to come clean
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar and DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua were also present at the PKR headquarters on Sunday to formally announce the council's set-up.
The team of retired generals have been a major feather in the cap for the 64-year-old Anwar. They have been able to capture the attention of the people, who intuitively give more credence to them on technical matters because of their military expertise.
So popular are they that a forum and public briefing on the Lahad Datu intrusion with speakers from both the Armed Forces and the police (retired officials) will be held at the Stadium Malawati in Shah Alam tonight at 7.15pm onwards. Attendance is free and a large crowd is expected.
As PAS vice president Mahfuz pointed out, the former generals are filling a vacuum that has been created by the authorities refusal to be transparent on security issues.
"I think it is clear the MKN (National Security Council) no longer functions as it should. It has become a mouthpiece for the BN," Mahfuz told the press conference.
"Take the recent arms deals announced at LIMA 2013. How can the government splurge RM4.3bil but when it comes to Lahad Datu, with all the high-powered equipment, they cannot speedily and efficiently eject 200 armed militants? So you see, someone must speak up, we must question and demand accountability. When you spend even one sen of the people's money, you must be accountable. Also the purchases must fit in with all the other policies. An independent assessment must be made to see if the decisions complement existing and new policies. You cannot simple buy because it benefits you. Information must be given openly and freely to the citizens of the country. The country's security is very much the people's business and right to know."

No comments:

Post a Comment