The Military and Malaysian Politics

November 1, 2012

The Military and Malaysian Politics

by Lam Choong Wah(10-31-12)@

“It is self-evident that making an intelligence agency, whether the BSPP or Special Branch, a private consulting group is a violation of good governance, and must be challenged immediately.”–Lam

COMMENT: In the middle of April 2011, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, better known as RPK, dropped a bombshell in denying his sensational statutory declaration dated June 2008.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin aka RPK

He claimed that he had been misled into making a false allegation against Rosmah Mansor, wife of Premier Najib Abdul Razak. The sources of information who RPK (above) named were persons close to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and one Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin from ‘military intelligence’.

However, then defence force head Jen Azizan Ariffin clarified that the information provided by Azmi Zainal was false and had never been in the possession of the Armed Forces. He also said Azmi Zainal’s “actions are personal and have no relation to the Armed Forces”.

Azizan’s statement does not absolve the military of wrongdoing. He did not clarify whether or not the military intelligence had been involved in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu or if it was secretly interfering in politics.

It is worth noting that Malaysia, which  practices Westminster parliamentary democracy, bars the military from taking part in politics, to maintain independence and honour. An independent armed forces ensures the success of a bipartisan political system and prevents attempts at a coup d’etat.

However, the ‘military intelligence’ mentioned by RPK does not exist in the Armed Forces. The correct authority is the Defence Staff Intelligence Division (BSPP).

It is the most secret unit in the armed forces and is headed by a Director-General who is also a three-star general. Generally, its responsibilities include the planning and execution of relevant actions to counter or neutralise sabotage or negative and covert hostile operations, as well as to conduct electronic and psychological warfare.

It can conduct joint intelligence gathering with other organisations within or outside the country, but only with the Defence Minister’s approval and a directive from the Defence Forces Chief.

As the BSPP is deemed a strategic tool, its development has always been accorded priority. It is believed that its intelligence gathering capability is more advanced than that of the police special branch.This capability is more than sufficient to pry into political information. So, the question is, has BSPP done so?

Public ‘admission’ of interference

Two interesting news reports could shed some light on this. First, in July 2006, then Premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was attacked with pepper spray when he arrived in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, to attend a political seminar.

The Police immediately arrested dozens of people for investigation, including seven army personnel from the 8th Brigade. But what were they doing there?

Second, after the BN encountered its biggest defeat in the 2008 general election, Mahathir held a press conference on March 9, during which he denounced Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s under-performance.

He also claimed that Abdullah’s refusal to take the advice of the Special Branch and military intelligence unit not to call a general election, had contributed to the BN’s electoral defeat.

Take note: This was the first time a top national leader publicly admitted that the military intelligence was ‘involved’ in politics.

While the BSPP did not violate any law, its behaviour went against its ethics and the democratic system. It is self-evident that making an intelligence agency, whether the BSPP or Special Branch, a private consulting group is a violation of good governance, and must be challenged immediately.

In light of this, there is a pressing need to make the Najib (above) government reveal more information about allegations by Mahathir and RPK, in particular the BSPP’s apparent involvement in politics.

It is also time to enact laws, as the US has done, to prohibit and monitor the government’s use of intelligence agencies to spy on political opponents or to serve its own political interests. And it is the duty of the rakyat to prevent political espionage in Malaysia.

7 thoughts on “The Military and Malaysian Politics

  1. The same applies to the Malaysian Civil Service, now led by Ali Hamsa, and all branches of the government (e.g. Biro Tata Negara, and PM Department Research Unit). The problem is, therefore, not unique to the military and Special Branch. UMNO and Malaysia are one and the same. Government answers to UMNO and Mahathir made that possible. –Din Merican

  2. The public services of this country has been manipulated and turned upside down by none other than the old retired doc,who is still meddling and harming the country with his action.

    From the judiciary,and all the enforcement agencies downward, none is spared. all of them has been turned into a tool to serve the interest of the elite and their cronies, at the expense of the ignorant/too tolerant populace. Material wealth and political power is their objective.

    If the current situation continues, this beloved and most blessed country of ours will become another failed and pariah country.

    I pray that such tragedy will not befall us, and GOD will have mercy on us and prevent it from happening.

  3. C’mon la.., the Army and Police are functionaries of UMNO Octoism. So what’s exactly new in this piece? If there is already no separation of the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive elements, what makes you guys think the gang in uniform is gonna to listen to this drivel?

    Westminister model? Never happened. The closest we’d get is: SNAFU.

  4. without a change of government nothing will change. whatever the accusations hurled at the ruling party of bandits, nothing will stick.
    if no election, no change of government so lets keep on dreaming.
    … _. ._ .._. .._

    the PM will not promise a peaceful transition of power because the opposition can ruin the country!! thats what he said; so why spend all the money for the GE13 if that promise cannot be given?

    Head, I win; Tail, you lose – ??

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