Systematic planning of the armed forces’ capacity procurement will ensure its readiness to face security challenges. FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s first Defence White Paper sees ambitious plans not only to boost the capacity and capabilities of the armed forces, but also explore potential in the defence industry aimed at improving Malaysia’s self-reliance in the procurement of military assets in the long term.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said the mission could be achieved through investments in extensive research and development, and bolstering human capital.

The White Paper addresses traditional and new security threats, which involve new technologies and social media.

The White Paper, which presents the nation’s long-term strategic directions, is set to transform the armed forces into an adept organisation capable of addressing modern and future threats.

The hallmark document, prepared based on the National Defence Policy, leverages openness, transparency, inclusiveness and progressiveness.

In calling all Malaysians to join hands in ensuring a secure, sovereign and prosperous nation, Mohamad said the White Paper reflected the government’s aspirations to inculcate good governance, apart from promoting professionalism and accountability in people.

He said the National Defence Policy needed to be reviewed to ensure that the country’s defence capacity and capabilities were in line with the ever-challenging and uncertain global security environment in terms of Malaysia’s geographical position as a maritime country with continental roots.

“Malaysia’s potential is also being pursued based on the country’s position as a bridging linchpin between Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean,” he said when tabling the White Paper at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said five national defence goals had been identified: the
development of the armed forces’
capability domains, boosting Malaysia’s internal resilience through the “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approaches, strengthening defence cooperation, advancing the defence industry as an economic catalyst, and institutionalising good governance practices.

He said systematic planning of the armed forces’ capacity procurement would ensure its readiness to face security challenges, as well as developing the defence industry to achieve self-reliance and generate additional economic revenue.

The 90-page document comprises eight chapters, which are strategic perspective, defence strategy, future force, defence international relations, science, technology and defence industry, reformation, governance and allocation.

Mohamad said the second chapter of the document specified the latest development, including conflicts between countries, including Russia’s clash with the West, the militarisation of China in the South China Sea, Freedom of Navigation Operations, as well as the unsettling relations among the superpowers, including the United States and China.

“These developments have direct and indirect effects on East Asia, including Southeast Asia, which create opportunities and challenges. In economy, East Asia remains the most vibrant and integrated region.

“However, on security, the region has various flashpoints. Despite efforts to improve the diplomatic ties in East Asia, especially in the Korean Peninsula, security in the region remains unstable.”

Other issues, he said, included territorial disputes, the interests of Malaysia, which were influenced by bilateral issues, such as overlapping claims, the spilling over of neighbouring countries’ conflicts, and the refugee crisis.

He said the chapter also addressed transboundary non-traditional security threats.

“Terror threats and extremism are on the rise. The magnitude and forms of threats are in line with the development in neighbouring countries and Western Asia.

“Returning fighters come to Southeast Asia and forge ties with local terrorists and manipulate social media to spread Daesh (the Islamic State) narratives that influence lone wolves.

“Cyberspace is a new domain for security and the country’s geopolitics, which has the potential to pose threats to national security without having to resort to physical force.

“Technological advancement, like the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, deep learning, 5G technology and artificial intelligence, expose military operations to cyberthreats.

“Piracy and robberies in Malaysia’s maritime zone pose a security threat to waterways.”

He said while such threats had seen a decline, non-traditional threats linked to kidnapping, illegal fishing, drug smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activities had posed challenges to Malaysia.

The White Paper will be made available on the ministry’s
website.