Thursday 07 Dec 2023
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 22, 2017.


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will grow its defence spending in support of a long-term plan to upgrade the equipment of its armed forces, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.

He highlighted that a total of RM26 billion had been allocated under the 11th Malaysia Plan to bolster defence, public order and enforcement, according to a Bernama report yesterday.

“Defence and security are of paramount importance to any nation as they are vital for maintaining territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” he said at the launch of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2017.

It is worth noting that the 2017 Federal Budget saw the defence budget cut by 7.95% to RM15.94 billion, according to a 2016/17 Economic Report.

This marks the lowest amount budgeted for the industry since 2012, which saw a peak of budget defence spending in 2015 at RM17.48 billion. Year 2014 was the same year that Malaysia suffered the loss of two commercial aircraft — MH370 and MH17 — as well as a spate of reported kidnappings off the east coast of Sabah.

Defence also made up a shrinking percentage of budgeted public expenditure last year at 6.11%, the lowest percentage since 2010. The figure does not include expenditure on internal security, which covers the planned procurement of helicopters for the Royal Malaysia Police and surveillance systems at immigration checkpoints.

According to the economic report, a total of RM4.1 billion was allocated for development of the defence sub-sector, including the acquisition of patrol vessels and the upgrading of facilities in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

This makes up 9.2% of total development expenditure, the bulk of which consists of spending on economic development. It has contracted from a high of 10% in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian navy aims to replace all 50 vessels in its fleet, navy chief Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin told Reuters yesterday, starting with the procurement of four littoral mission ships which will be built in collaboration with China.

“These ships would be very capable of dealing with the threat posed by Daesh (Islamic State) and other maritime security concerns,” he reportedly said.

Malaysia will also acquire the technology to construct more of these ships at home, which the navy hopes will help them obtain an additional 18 vessels, the report said.

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