The question of Malay participation in the Singapore Air Force had always been a touchy one, especially before one or two Malay-Muslim pilot had been appointed, presumably in part to address the issue. The official explanation in response to criticism was interesting: an explanation which seems to fuse both ethnic considerations with national security concern. A senior cabinet minister said in a much publicized speech that the Singapore government did not want to put a would-be Malay-Muslim pilot in a dilemma should Singapore be engaged in a conflict with the neighboring countries. The pilot concerned would then be torn between his loyalty to Singapore and his loyalty to his Muslim brothers of the opposite camp. Considering how expensive a jet fighter had cost Singapore, he explained the government simply cannot take the risk of a Malay-Muslim pilot flying a jet fighter over to the enemy camp. Now this suggest very stringent attitude towards national security and defense equipments, even spilling over into ethnic considerations!
Now on the Malaysian side of plane saga, a few days ago Malaysians are hit by the shocking news that two jet-fighter engines had been stolen, each engine worth about MR50 million. The details suggest that through massive and complicated local and international conspiracy, the engines were sold off to an international company based in South Africa. A brigadier-general and 40 armed forces personnel had been sacked last year over the scandal. It is also reported that the police had arrested 4 people, including air force officers. These are scanty details I read in today’s The Sun, front page, reporting on revelation by the prime minister and the minister of defence ( I seem always to be out of step with the Malay Mail mass distribution, finding only an empty kiosk when passing by)
Wow! The Malaysians seem to be much more at ease over the matter of national security and sensitive defence equipments. Kadir Jasin of the Scribe and Rocky Bru is quite right in saying, given the details, what is there to prevent elements like those who traded our jet engines from selling not only sensitive defence equipment but the very integrity of our national security system itself? They seem to be quite above all considerations of national loyalty, patriotism and ethnic loyalties. Only money and greed seem to motivate them.
This scandal should really worry us Malaysians, sweet music though to our enemies. To them, it does suggest Malaysia can be bought easily if you know where the weak link in the chain is, and work it to their advantages.
I find the prime minister’s statement in today’s paper perplexing. Though calculated to reassure the public there was no cover up in the matter, I remain to be persuaded. He said, according to the report: ‘Mindef took the position that we had to address this and take action, even criminal action, against those involved’ Was Mindef of two mind over the course of action to be taken upon discovering the debacle? So much so Mindef had to ‘take the position to address this and take action, even criminal action? Shouldn’t this be a matter of course, instead of being recounted as a process requiring mulling and great deliberation? Why ‘even criminal action’? Was there remote possibilities of it being non-criminal and innocent? Or was there reluctance and hesitation over the course of taking criminal action? The prime minister gives credit to the RMAF and Mindef for having ‘no intention of covering up at all. In fact, we went forward to the police. At that time I was minister in charge. I decided we should report it to the police’. Well..was it really a difficult decision on the part of a cabinet minister, worth recounting and taking credit for? Further more, excuse me for saying so, the issue really is how could it have happened and who should take the final responsibility for failing to prevent it in the first place, The issue is not whether to report it to the police or not or whether action should be taken or not! And lastly,reading the details given by the minister of defence, and the chief of the armed forces, on how investigation had to be conducted 'discretely', away from public attention, they do suggest in essence a 'cover up' of sort.
The above post does not pretend any analysis or evalutation over the issue. I am still in a state of disbelief as to the extent of degeneration in our national integrity and resilience. I am just stating the facts and relevant information.