Invest in defence assets before it is too late

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For combat readiness, we rely on only four combat ships, all older than 30 years, to defend our sovereignty.

As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, speak softly and carry a big stick.

Bernama

Having read the news of alleged corruption in the littoral combat ship (LCS) project, I keep asking myself, what will happen if Malaysia goes to war?

The LCS project was approved for a very specific purpose which is to upgrade our naval capability and deter foreign threats. Foreign threats come in various shapes and sizes from pirates, to armed militants, to foreign coast guards and navies.

Without the financial resources to build an armada that could match the numerical strength of rival fleets, Malaysia must instead rely on qualitative superiority. The LCS offers that desired quality through its state-of-the-art technology, making its urgent delivery to the Royal Malaysian essential for our continued security.

The importance of the LCS project for Malaysia lies in cold hard facts which define our geostrategic circumstances. To put it bluntly, Malaysia is a maritime state with a coastline measuring over 6,037 km and a sea area which is more than twice the size of our landmass. Yet, for combat readiness, we rely on only four combat ships, all older than 30 years, to defend our sovereignty.

With such odds, one must wonder if we have given those willing to die for us a fighting chance, if any chance at all.

In 2013, we were lucky that the Sulus were a ragtag bunch, but if we are forced to face a better funded, better equipped and more organised militia, we could live to regret our complacency and negligence, perhaps paying for our mistakes with the lives of our brave servicemen.

I am sorry for delivering such sombre outlooks, I have simply grown frustrated towards the unending project delays and inaction by those entrusted to protect national interests.

Their failure to make clear policy decisions could cost lives.

In 2013, we know of at least 78 casualties from both sides and every life lost is one too many.

For those who did survive, they live tormented by their experience.

I have heard of a story relayed by a retired Major from the Royal Medical Corps of the Malaysian Army who recalls an event where a local family was caught in a crossfire when a fleeing insurgent hid in their home, killing everyone but a lone surviving baby.

That is just one story and there are others like it.

These are horrifying memories, painful losses and mental traumas that will live on for a generation, keeping the fire of hatred and simmering conflict alive, each time taking us one step further away from long-term peace.

Thus, if we are unwilling to deter conflict through qualitative superiority, are we willing to do it all over again?

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader Rahimi Mohd Nor from Bangi.