Our military helped Saudi in Yemen war without Cabinet approval, says Liew

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet did not approve Ops Yemen 2 that saw the Malaysian Armed Forces being deployed to Saudi Arabia to assist its military operations in Yemen.

Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong (pic) said that from June 11, 2015, about 27 officers and 62 rank-and-file troops were deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on a rotational basis every three months for Ops Yemen 2.

However, the troops were withdrawn following the Pakatan Harapan government's decision on Sept 4 this year.

“Actually, Malaysia was not involved in combat activities but was merely there to give logistics support to the Arab military.

“However, in terms of SOP (standard operating procedure), I was informed that the then Defence Ministry did not get the Cabinet's decision to deploy these troops.

“There was no Cabinet decision to approve the troop movements for Ops Yemen 2,” Liew said in Parliament on Monday (Dec 3).

He was responding to a question from Chang Lih Kang (PH-Tanjong Malim) who had asked about the tasks these Malaysian troops performed in Riyadh, and about the number of Malaysians as well as military personnel in Yemen.

Former Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in a supplementary question, confirmed Liew's claims, adding that the matter was never raised in Cabinet.

Khairy also asked Liew if Malaysia's involvement with the Arab Alliance brought any results as former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said that Saudi Arabia would offset the deployment with their own military surplus.

To this, Liew said he was uncertain.

“But as far as I know, there was no such offset,” he said.

Earlier, Liew told the Dewan Rakyat that Ops Yemen 2 had cost RM14.6mil, and roughly RM1.5mil in operational costs, for each three-month rotation.

Liew said it involved 12 missions to bring in explosives, spare parts, bullets and other equipment that belonged to the Arab Alliance, within Saudi territories.

“All of the Royal Malaysia Air Force (TUDM) flights flew through Saudi airspace, which is outside of the conflict and war zone.

“In 2016, due to the high operation and maintenance cost as well as the impact to the troops and flight crews, TUDM proposed that the troops be withdrawn.

“However the former Armed Forces chief and the Defence Ministry did not agree to it.

“In 2017, TUDM suggested that only one aircraft be placed as the rest needed priority maintenance,” said Liew, adding that there are currently around 700 Malaysians still in Yemen.

For Ops Yemen 1, Malaysia deployed 26 officers, 16 rank-and-file troops and two C130 aircraft to Riyadh on April 6, 2015.

This was done to evacuate Malaysians from war-torn Yemen.

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