There is obviously a serious flaw in the decision-making of the government to deploy troops overseas for operational tasks without sanction by the cabinet or Parliament, writes Mohamad Arshad Raji.
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong has made a statement in Parliament on 3 December that the previous government had deployed troops of the Malaysian armed forces to participate in a military conflict between the Saudi coalition forces against Yemen, in what is termed as Ops Yemen 2.
The troops were first deployed in 2015, and have since been recalled after the Pakatan Harapan government informed the Saudi government that Malaysian troops were to be relieved of their involvement in the war with Yemen.
Patriot views the revelation by the deputy defence minister as shocking because the Malaysian troops deployment was not sanctioned by the cabinet or by Parliament. The questions and issues that need to be answered by the previous government and in particular the then defence minister are as follows:
- Who were the parties that authorised the deployment of the troops to Saudi Arabia?
- Under whose command were the troops placed?
- Who paid for the salaries and allowances, if any, of the troops including the expenses for all other logistical support?
- For how long were the troops deployed, and what was the composition of the force?
- What was the nature of tasks given to our troops?
- If the deployment of troops was a decision by the then defence minister or by other politicians, then the order to deploy troop was illegal.
- Was there prior consultation by the then defence minister then with the armed forces chief to determine the legality of the troop deployment to Saudi Arabia and of being part of the Saudi coalition force against Yemen?
- Was there pressure placed upon the armed forces chief by the then defence minister or from other government officials to comply with the instructions to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia?
- Why wasn’t the deployment of armed forces troops discussed and sanctioned by the cabinet?
- Was there any formal agreement concluded between the Saudi and Malaysian governments relating to the participation of Malaysian troops in the conflict against Yemen?
- Was the Yang DiPertuan Agong, being the commander-in-chief of the Malaysian armed forces, consulted?
There is obviously a serious flaw in the decision-making of the government, in particular the Ministry of Defence, to deploy troops overseas for operational tasks without sanction by the cabinet or Parliament. Who should be held accountable should there be lives lost while in operational duties abroad?
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The then defence minister must understand that he did not have any command function over the troops; hence detailing troops for whatever reason is deemed contentious and illegal. The command to deploy can only come from the military commander.
Patriot would like to caution politicians, including the defence minister of the new government, to be more mindful in the language they use when detailing troops for deployment. Ministers, as we know, are only responsible for policy matters relating to their ministries.
Retired Brigadier General Dato Mohamad Arshad Raji is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.