The New Straits Times (2 June) reported in an article titled ‘Former Army Chief to be head of Armed Forces’ might have breached the confidentiality of Armed Forces Council papers.
It was reported that the council, convened on Friday, 1 June, had deliberated and approved the promotion of several senior armed forces officers, including that of General Zulkifli Zainal Abidin to replace General Raja Affandi Raja Mohamed as the new chief of Defence Force effective 20 June.
A full promotion list of senior armed forces officers has also gone viral.
Patriot is informed that the council papers relating to the promotion of senior military officers has not yet been presented to the Yang Di Pertuan Agong for his approval. This being so, the council secretariat should have embargoed the decisions of the council relating to the promotion of senior military officers until the approval of the Agong is sought.
The authority to issue a statement relating to this issue then lies with the Ministry of Defence’s public relations department. Rightfully, no other individual is permitted to issue any statement relating to the affairs of the ministry.
This is a serious breach of the confidentiality of the council papers and Patriot urges the ministry to fully investigate this incident. If breaches of confidential council papers could be breached, other secret defence papers could be breached too and fall into the hands of unauthorised individuals.
Since the news of the council’s decision regarding the termination of the service of Gen Raja Affandi and his replacement Gen Zulkifli came out on 2 June, and a day earlier in social media chat, there have been incessant messages going viral in cyber space accusing Patriot president BG Mohd Arshad, of having a hand in recommending the new chief of defence force.
Patriot would like to categorically state that it is not true. Patriot made no such recommendation. It is obvious that since the rumour came out on Friday, 1 June, there was an outpouring of disgust and dissatisfaction from among veterans and also those still serving.
Patriot shares the sentiment expressed as the armed forces needs a chief who is untainted, professional and much respected by the vast majority, and there are others among those with three stars.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (rtd) is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.