“DWP is an open document of the government formulated to explain to the people its stance on defence.” - NSTP file pic
“DWP is an open document of the government formulated to explain to the people its stance on defence.” - NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Defence White Paper (DWP) is an open document that will explain the government’s focus in the defence sector in the next 10 years.

Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad, who is the deputy head of the DWP’s technical team, said the document would form the basis for Malaysia’s defence outlook.

He also addressed misconceptions that the DWP breached confidential defence strategies.

“DWP is an open document of the government formulated to explain to the people its stance on defence.

“It is to present to them the country’s strategic trends, and to outline its long-term vision in defending our interests as a secure, sovereign nation.

“It is different from any defence policy paper because it is accessible to the public and contains no sensitive materials, whereas a defence policy paper is typically classified and confidential,” said Ruhanie, who is former Parit Sulong member of parliament.

On how extensive the DWP’s formulation process was, Ruhanie said it involved extensive consultations across civil-military lines with considerable input from academics, think tanks, industry representatives, civil society organisations and components of the government.

“I can say that there are three messages in the DWP.

“Firstly, Malaysians should not take the security and stability of this country for granted. The peace we have enjoyed is the result of the government’s active defence, diplomacy and development efforts.

“As such, everyone in society should share the responsibility for national defence through the ‘whole-of-nation’ security consciousness and security readiness approach.”

He said the second message was that the military and non-military agencies should adopt the “whole-of-government” approach as an integral part of an effective security strategy.

“The third message is that Malaysia defends its national interests through the principles of non-alignment, inclusive
cooperation and shared security,” he said.

On elements of reforms in the DWP, Ruhanie said there were many.

Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad
Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad

“These are related to military and defence capabilities and readiness, including steps in mitigating threats to Malaysian cyberdomains concerning transparency and accountability in defence procurement.

“They are there to enhance Malaysia’s defence industry as a new catalytic booster to the national economy.”

Universiti Kebangsaan Malay-sia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies Centre for Asian Studies head Associate Professor Cheng-Chwee Kuik said the DWP would highlight a need for Malaysia to step up to its potential to become a vital link between the international defence strategies adopted in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean maritime areas.

He said Malaysia could be a “bridging linchpin” between the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions when it came to defence matters.

“Such a role underscores three core messages: the principle of non-alignment (Malaysia is not siding with any power); inclusive cooperation (Malaysia is open to collaborate with any country on the basis of realistic objectives and mutual benefit); and, shared security (security is sustainable only when security is shared, where the interests of nations are integrated through interdependence and identity-building),” he said as quoted in the recent Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific bulletin.

Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia international affairs expert Associate Professor Dr Adam Leong said the methodology used in formulating the DWP was the first of its kind in the country as it sought the views of a cross-section of society through dialogues.

“The Defence Ministry and the armed forces have engaged the members of the public, industry and numerous government agencies and ministries in a series of public dialogues, workshops and meetings.”