Issued a media statement at Parliament lobby at 2.30pm. YB Nizar, YB Balik Pulau, YB Shah alam and YB Jelutong joined me in the press conference
Today, during question time in Parliament, the Minister of Defence was asked on the breakdown of intake into the armed force according to races.
He replied that for the year 2009, a total of 8151 were recruited. The racial breakdown according to races is Malays 90% Chinese 0.26% Indians 0.91%, Bumiputras Sarawak and Sabah 8.8%.
He further said a total of 9,054 were appointed as new officers and other ranks in the past two years while 14,749 were hired from 2007-2009.
Zaid further said the Government does not impose any quota on the recuritment if army personnel and appointments are made based on qualifictions and the applicants interest in providing service.
He also said that Non-Malays’ reluctance to join the armed forces was because:-
1) discipline is strict;
2) low remuneration ;
3) no initiative ;
4) lack of patriotism
At the material time, I gave notice to the House Speaker that I intent to ask for clarification from the Minister on the issue of "patriotism" and I asked that the Minister to be in the House at 11.30am as this is the time so permitted. Notwithstanding this express notice, the Minister failed to be in the house at 11.30 when I raised the matter.
I was shocked and hurt by the reply where the "lack of patriotism" was listed as a reason why there has been reluctance from the non Malays to join the army.
Such reason is most unacceptable and baseless as it has painted the non-Malays as "not loyal".
It is said patriotism is love and devotion to one’s country. I have no doubt that, Malaysians of all races love this country, that they are prepared to die for it.
It is true that for various reasons, the non Malays are reluctant to join the armed forces, but this is certainly not because they are unpatriotic. One of the main reasons as to why the lack of participation of non-malays in the armed forces is because, there is a lack of promotional prospects. Many non Malays who retire from the armed forces are very dejected as their years of sacrifice and service has been not valued and appreciated.
Non Malays have headed the armed forces during trying, challenging and turbulent times. Thanabalasingam headed the navy during the 60's.
The Minister must withdraw this unacceptable, baseless and irresponsible answer and tender a public apology over it.