Media statement by M.Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 23rd December 2017
Respecting the value of diversity is essential for the Armed Forces
Negative trend of discrimination
The media statement by Patriot president Brigadier-General (Rtd) Mohd Arshad Raji that in the 1960s until the late 70s, non-Malay Armed Forces personnel comprised about 30% of the total manpower, but over the years, this figure gradually dropped to around 5% at present is a great cause of concern. He said that one of the reasons that non-Muslims shied away from joining the military was because there was now a distinctive division along ethnic lines in the armed forces. He added by saying that the government’s affirmative action policies of the 1980s had seeped into the military administration, and “strange sayings like ‘orang kita’ had crept into the minds of military commanders”.
The erosion of value of diversity
The honest account by Patriot president reveals a vital truth that the value of unity in diversity that reflects multicultural and religious Malaysia has been lost in the recruitment process and goals of the armed forces over the years. The former Defense Minister Zahid Hamidi once said that non-Malays are non- patriotic, as a reason of them not joining the military, without addressing policies that negates diversity. He has never apologized for these false claims, although I have raised this matter in Parliament ( see
Parliament Video : Debate on Motion to cut RM10 of Defence Minister Salary ). There is a need of an holistic change of attitude in recruiting especially non-Malays in the forces. When I question this issue in 2010 much could have been done if the Government was serious. After 7 years the same complaints of lack of non malay intake in the forces is erupting again. Clearly it shows the Government has has not been listening to the grouses and lack of political will could be cause!!
Lack of opportunities for non-malay advancement
The fact is there is no empirical evidence to show that non-malays are not patriotic when comes to serving the military. It is known that there is a great interest among non-Malays to take up a career in the armed forces. But lack of promotions and the very nature of recruitment itself have denied them the opportunity to join the armed forces .Having spoken to many in the armed forces the denial of promotion is the main factor non Malays are avoiding joining the armed forces. Will this be addressed?
Principles of inclusive Armed forces
This brings about the principle question of whether the military establishment in Malaysia adheres to the policy of diversity. The values of diversity entails recognition and respect for Malaysia’s foundations of multiculturalism, respect for human rights, equality and the respect for the diversity of all individuals regardless of gender,ethnicity,religion, and linguistic background. The fostering of a climate of inclusion, tolerance, and accommodation of difference is vital for an effective military force.
The value of benchmarking
In order to attain the climate of inclusion there should bebenchmarking on diversity and policies on promotion, compensation, by studying and adopting positivepolicy/institutional framework, of the armed forces of countries like Australia, Britain, and Canada who are make up as commonwealth countries. Such benchmarking would help us to follow that best practices of diversity and the best compensation practices that would encourage the best of Malays and non Malays to join the armed forces.
Working in diversity is essential in a globalised world
The respect for diversity should be the main trust of our Armed forces. Malaysia today is blessed with a diverse and plural population that would enhance the strength of the military force. Clearly, at the strategic level, diversity has the highest value, and it is viewed as an operational requirement: The way wars are fought today requires our military to be capable of working in environments that require knowledge about diversity whether one isdeployed in warzones or even working with somebody in aunit from a different part of the country. There is a need to know how to work in diverse teams with diverse partners.Therefore it is vital to increase the participation of non Malays into the arm forces to enhance the value of diversity.