Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu delivers his speech during the ‘Perwira 4 Dialogue’ themed ‘Defence White Paper: Defending the Nation’ with civil society organisations and Armed Forces veterans in Kuala Lumpur. - Bernama.

KUALA LUMPUR: The forthcoming Defence White Paper, set to be tabled in Parliament in December, will focus on developing a modernised ‘smart army’.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said that the idea was to forge towards a new dimension by optimising computers, cyberspace technology and state-of-the-art systems.

This, he said, will reduce the reliance on traditional equipment and armaments like battle tanks, ships and weaponry.

“This means we will emphasise on unmanned aerial vehicles, drones and cyber security-related equipment towards achieving a comprehensive defence for the country.

“Much of the budget towards this effect will come from the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plans,” he said speaking to reporters at the ‘Perwira 4 Dialogue’ themed ‘Defence White Paper: Defending the Nation’ with civil society organisations and Armed Forces veterans here.

The dialogue was organised by the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security (Midas).

Mohamad said that the ‘smart army’ concept was not new as several countries such as Australia had already implemented it.

“Countries like Australia have downsized their armed forces and paid more attention towards the use of state-of-the-art equipment and cyber-space warfare,” he said.

Mohamad said that other nations like South Korea, the United States, Great Britain, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines and Singapore had long implemented their Defence White Paper.

“Singapore, for instance, sets aside four to five per cent of its gross domestic product annually for its national defence.

“They also take into consideration an annual four per cent factor for inflation,” he said.

On the dialogue, Mohamad said that it was the last forum to obtain input and new ideas before the Defence White Paper was finalised and tabled in Parliament.

Asked on the urgency in tabling the Defence White Paper, he said although the country no longer faced tension from the times of the Confrontation with Indonesia and the communist insurgency (that ended with a peace treaty in 1989), threats to the country’s sovereignty still exist.

“There are still people out there who want to use various forms of economic, social, political and psychological threats to challenge the government.

“Therefore, we must be alert and vigilant at all times,” he said, referring to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) facing threats from pirates and militants from the Philippines.

Mohamad said many assumed that as the world progressed, it would be more peaceful.

“On the contrary, just look at the scenario in the Middle East, north Africa and the Arab peninsular which face endless conflicts,” he said.

He recalled how radio and television broadcasts were effective in disseminating patriotism during the challenging times in the 1960s through the 1980’s against the communist terrorist threat.

To this end, Mohamad said Malaysia strongly advocates defence diplomacy with its regional neighbours via bilateral and multi-lateral engagements to ensure continued peace and stability.