The Malaysian Defence Ministry tabled its inaugural Defence White Paper to Parliament today, saying it is set to strengthen the country’s defence through more comprehensive means.
The document contains plans that will be implemented in the next 10 years. It replaces the National Defence Policy which was related to highly classified defence policies, which have been available in 1971, 1979 and 1981.
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu says it was imperative for Malaysia to review the national defence policy in order to bring the country’s defence capacity and capabilities in line with the ever-challenging and uncertain global security environment.
The paper is a culmination of engagements with the military and civil society, he says.
“It took into account the involvement and views of all ministries and government agencies, and the voice of all sectors of society, including non-governmental organisations, defence industry players, armed forces veterans, analysts and academicians,” he says.
“Engagements were also held with several strategic partner countries experienced in developing DWPs.”
“The DWP has also gone through several stages of presentations including before the National Security Council, the Conference of Rulers, the Special Committee on Defence and Home Affairs and the cabinet,” he says.
He explained that the paper was developed using the “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approaches.
“It contains input from experts and members of the armed forces, government enforcement agencies and various segments of society,” he says.
He also says the paper is accessible to the people in a move never seen in Malaysia.
This raised concerns from some quarters that making it publicly available would compromise defence secrets or the country’s sovereignty. He dismisses such fears.
“The DWP is an open document containing the direction and priorities of defence for a period of 10 years, from 2021 to 2030, spanning the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plans.
“As the DWP is an open document, it is accessible to the people.”
“A comprehensive NDP was introduced in 1986 with a review in 1991, followed by another in 2006. The NDP is classified and a confidential document that can be accessed only by certain parties.”
He says the “openness” in the DWP’s implementation will fortify the country via the comprehensive defence concept, with the participation of the people.
“Matters pertaining to security and defence are aspects that cannot be compromised.
“The government’s openness through the DWP is a benchmark of good democratic values and governance in line with the practice of developed nations,” he said.
One goal of making the paper public—it will be available on the ministry’s website—is to engage and increase the participation of the people in national defence. It is part of the concept of shared responsibility in national defence.
The second goal was to re-evaluate the ever-changing security strategic environment by taking into account current and future challenges.
The third goal is to enhance the ability and readiness of the armed forces to protect the country at all times.”-/TISG