KUALA LUMPUR: Former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has taken a dig at the ministry over its delay in tabling a White Paper that will chart Malaysia's defence plans.
Hishammuddin said every time the Defence Ministry (Mindef) is questioned on its initiatives and strategic plans, the ministry says it will be revealed in the White Paper.
"Mindef's answer is easy, wait for the White Paper. The problem is, as of now, the Defence Minister (Mohamad Sabu) has promised six times that the White Paper will be tabled.
"On Jan 10, he said it would be tabled in September. On Jan 29, he said it would be tabled in July.
"Then in July, he changed and said it would be tabled in the upcoming Parliament meeting.
"In August, he said it would be done after November and recently, he said it would be after Budget 2020.
"In the context of defence assets, it will take time (for the strategies to be implemented) and I don't think terrorists will wait for our White Paper to be tabled," said Hishammuddin, who is Sembrong MP, during his Budget 2020 speech on Tuesday (Oct 22).
Hishammuddin said the White Paper, which will chart Malaysia's defence plans and policies for the next decade and beyond, is merely a document but what is pivotal is the plans for next year.
He said there must be strategies and plans in motion not just for the security of the nation but also to take care of the welfare and morale of the armed forces personnel as well as their families.
Hishammuddin said in the recently tabled Budget 2020, not many major strategies were announced.
He also expressed disappointment that there were no allocations for security initiatives in Sabah, adding that the only thing mentioned were plans to have fast patrol vessels (bot pemintas laju).
Sabah, he said, requires close monitoring as it is located in close proximity to militant groups in neighbouring countries.
"The government cannot be calculating with the Budget allocation in regard to safety," he said.
Hishammuddin said Sarawak was also left out in the announcement for security despite several attempts at its border by foreign threats.
Later, speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, Hishammuddin said he hopes that welfare issues such as housing, healthcare and education will be mentioned in the upcoming White Paper.
“They (the ministry) need detailed planning each year based on the budget tabled.
"Last year, we gave them (the government) a chance to get used to matters concerning the ministry.
"But it has been almost two years and the time is up for them to take leadership, ” he said.
He emphasised the importance of safety and defence, adding that security issues could take place anytime.
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