Defence is Everyone’s Responsibility
Dr Muhammad Danial Azman (Department of International and Strategic Studies, University of Malaya)
There are three themes to consider where national defence is concerned. First, defence and military roles should be given a more central position in the state system, and a greater priority in policy thinking in general. Although the Malaysian Armed Forces are generally in good condition at the moment, the challenges it faces by the global era that we now live in have to be handled effectively. These challenges come from different directions, the worst of which are those coming from within society itself. The Ministry of Defence needs to be fully aware of the limitations and the strengths of the country’s defence capability, and with help from instances such as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF), it should thoroughly examine the status of the country’s defence and security situation, and scrutinize the progress and the succession planning in the areas of defence and security.
Secondly, the country’s civil-military relationship (CMR) needs to be strengthened. CMR is essential for achieving a stable equilibrium between the Armed Forces, the State and its many sectors, and Society at large. Good CMR enhances the public’s awareness about national security on the one hand, and directly motivates and improves the quality of military and defence performance on the other. It will also help contain any eventual attempt at a coup d’état from any side. Although Malaysia’s CMR is hugely recognized to be good on most fronts, there is a need to strengthen it further to face future challenges.
Last but not least, the Ministry of Defence should play a major role in ensuring that everybody is aware of and uphold the idea of Malaysian total defence. Everything depends on total defence awareness being promoted. Total defence only functions well when the country’s defence and security is seen as the responsibility of each Malaysian citizen, and not the Armed Forces alone.
Thus, the Ministry of Defence should ensure that precautions are taken to meet challenges to both the State and to Society. A plan of defence and security needs to be comprehensive; and for that to be possible, a sense of togetherness must be inculcated among Malaysians that the country’s future is their responsibility.