Defence budget unbalanced, with little for navy, says expert

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The KD Keris is the first of a class of large patrol vessels known as littoral mission ships. The government says three more will be ordered. (Wikipedia pic)
PETALING JAYA: A maritime affairs expert has lamented that the 2024 budget did not include funds to buy more equipment for the navy, which is confronted with threats in the South China Sea.
The air force, army and the coast guard will receive funds for new arms, while the government said it would continue to buy three littoral mission ships for the navy and refit two submarines.
Maritime affairs and law expert Salawati Mat Basir said the navy saw little gain from the budget despite its instrumental role in protecting the country’s sovereign interests in the South China Sea.
“I anticipated the government to procure more assets for the navy because it is the one that faces the threats in the South China Sea,” the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia legal advisor told FMT. “(But) there was hardly any mention of the navy, and there were more procurements in other places – which did not strike a balance.”
In tabling the budget today, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced the acquisition of 12 new helicopters for the air force, 60 infantry fighting vehicles and 50 light tactical vehicles for the army, 45 boats of various types and 733 support vehicles, and nine surveillance and interception craft for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Defence expert Mizan Aslam lauded the government for its plan to procure assets for MMEA and the army, stating that it has made the right decision to build on our maritime assets, befitting Malaysia’s position as a maritime state.
Mizan expected that the RM2.4 billion in allocation to maintain and repair quarters for civil servants including the police, army, and firemen would result in an increase in support for the government.
However, he noted that the government’s plan to establish the country’s first Artificial Intelligence learning centre wasn’t reflected in the procurement of related assets.
“In this case, I am slightly disappointed as in today’s world, our army needs certain technology to deal with risky situations,” said the Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia lecturer.
More pay for police?
The president of the Retired Senior Police Officers’ Association, Meor Chek Hussien Mahayuddin said he has high hopes that the government will raise the minimum wage and allowance for police personnel after the tabling of the budget.
“The police, specifically, have worked tirelessly to maintain the peace and order in the country,” he said. “They want their sacrifices to be appreciated, and the prime minister said he agreed that enforcement agencies that show continuous commitment and outstanding performance will be rewarded accordingly.”
Anwar, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced that a review of civil servants salary schemes, last done in 2012, will be finalised by the end of 2024.
In the meantime, RM2,000 in preliminary incentives will be distributed to civil servants Grade 56 and below, including contract workers, while uniformed personnel will receive RM1,000. There are also RM1,000 in incentives for pensioners, including veterans, which will be disbursed in February.

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