Letter: Military Personnel Not Cheap Labour

It is regrettable to see a respectable person such as Mr Koon Yew Yin view the military so lowly. He mentioned in his blog that armed forces personnel are “doing nothing except eating and sleeping. In fact, almost all of them have never fired a shot except during target practices. Some of them should replace the foreign workers in the FELDA plantations”.

This is the second time in less than two months someone viewed military personnel as cheap labour. The first time was when former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh suggested redirecting excess military personnel to “assist the government uplift and stabilise the rural village community”, including sending them to work as security guards and the female personnel to help clean houses and conduct courses for housewives.

Suggestions from both men are ridiculous and show their sheer ignorance of the roles of the armed forces. It is true that after 1989 the war with communist insurgents ended and we are now in peacetime. However currently, we have our troops on peace-keeping missions, maritime patrols and guarding our national borders. These are missions where our men in uniform are in harm’s way.

Being in peacetime does not mean the military personnel are doing nothing, as per what Koon opined. Their main preoccupation is to train for war. This, the civilians and politicians cannot comprehend as they do not see the possibility of any war. They are also on perpetual alert to help the civilian authorities in case of a natural disaster. The strength of our armed forces, the discipline and high morale of our military personnel by itself are necessary as a deterrent against any form of threat and aggression. It gives clout to our nation’s leaders when dealing with foreign leaders. If our military is disorganised, poorly trained, ill-disciplined and low in morale, our leaders will lose esteem and respect, elements which are vital in international relations.

When soldiers train, they train to kill. From field crafts to tactics to strategies, depending on the level of command, the fighting men and women operate as a cohesive fighting force. They are professional killers and many are highly skilled in their own respective roles. They do jobs civilian could not do. They are trained to go through and be able to endure hardship. All of them understood that the moment they signed and be enlisted, they have to be prepared to die, even be sacrificed for the success of a mission.

Mr Koon Yew Yin and all politicians, please change the way you view military personnel. They are certainly not cheap labour. They are trained professional killers our nation cannot do without.

Brig-Gen Dato’ Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan

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