DAP calls for White Paper on defence future and planning

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to the Segamat DAP Branch on Sunday, September 15, 1968 at 8 p.m.

DAP calls for White Paper on defence future and planning

The Australian Cabinet is now studying a report drawn up by Australian defence planners to decide, in the light of British defence withdrawal from South East Asia in 1971, whether Australia should participate in a collective defence arrangement in this region, or whether she should also withdraw to an isolationist “Fortress Australia” concept.

Assuming that the Australian Cabinet decides to join in the regional collectives defence arrangement, there is nothing to prevent this decision from being reversed at a later date, if Australians decide that this is to their own best interest.

Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are all making their own long-term defence thinking and planning. Only Malaysia is doing nothing, but waiting for the outcome of the thinking and planning by defence experts in the capitals of Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Malaysia has still to make a comprehensive survey and study of her defence future, challenges, problems and needs in the post-1971 era, when every British troop would have packed up their bags and gone home.

Malaysian defend planning is still hinged on what other government decide on this matter. There is no independent and fresh defence thinking on the part on the Malaysian cabinet, no contingency defence plan for every set of eventuality.

If Australia and New Zealand should decide to opt out of defence co-operation in South East Asia, the Malaysian government would panic, because this has clearly never occurred to them.

Yet, one would have thought that the British breach of her defence obligations and commitments to Malaysia, after the most solemn pledges by the British, their word is their bond, should have served as an object lesson to the Malaysian Government that every government acts in the light of what serves their country best.

It is therefore a shock to hear the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, recently talking about his trust that Britain, Australia and New Zealand would come to Malaysia’s help if hostilities break out over Filipino claim to Sabah.

What certainty and assurance did the Tunku have that his hope will come true? Didn’t Paul Hasluck, External Affairs Minister of Australia, recently commented: “We are on friendly relations with the Philippines and Malaysia. We certainly will not take sides or express public views on this matter”?

Two days ago, in an interview with the Malay Mail, Tun Abdul Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, expressed his hope that the defence of this region after 1971 should be an equal partnership between Malaysia, Singapore, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

This statement is surprising when it is remembered that the British Government had been categorical in their declaration that after 1971, they would have no more defence commitments in South East Asia.

Tun Razak’s statement is distressing because it illustrates the absence of independent defence planning and thinking on the part of Alliance in the event of the failure to secure five-power defence co-operation in this region.

Probably, the basic weakness of Malaysian government defence thinking is to be found in the defence philosophy enunciated by the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and endorsed by his Deputy and Defence Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, when it was stated that the Alliance government would not resist invasion or aggression by a nation which is ten times the size of Malaysia – which includes China, India and Indonesia.

With such a defence philosophy, what is the use of expanding the Malaysian armed forces? And how can Malaysia’s potential defence partners be keen to join in defence co-operation with Malaysia when her leaders have declared that Malaysia does not have the will, inclination or determination to resist aggression from a nation ten times Malaysia’s size? Is the defence pact meant to protect Malaysian invasion by Thailand, Burma, Singapore or Cambodia?

The Alliance’s handling and thinking on Malaysia’s defence is cause for grave concern and disquiet. It seems unable to emerge from the era when Malaysian defence was British-run and nursed.

We seriously urge Malaysian defence planners to immediately get down to serious thinking and planning.

Let us not allow our defence future to be dictated solely by the actions and decisions of other governments. Let us have our own defence thinking.

We call on the government to produce a White Paper on how it proposes to deal with the defence future, problems, challenges and needs of Malaysia in the post-1971 era.

Audited on 2021-04-28.