KUALA LUMPUR, 28 Dec 2008: The year 2008 shocked some parties when Armed Forces chief Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal urged the government in September to take action against those who stoked racial sentiments.
His 9 Sept statement, days before the much-touted but failed 16 Sept government takeover by the Pakatan Rakyat, was seen as political interference by the military, which has always been neutral.
In many countries, including within Asean, the military is involved in the country’s administration and can determine the rise and fall of governments.
Denying such a reading of the situation in Malaysia, Abdul Aziz said there was no ulterior motive behind his statement.
“My intentions were good, there were no hidden meanings behind the statement,” he said.
In early September, the armed forces’ 75 years of service continued to be recognised internationally when they were given the honour of taking part in peacekeeping missions abroad, such as in Lebanon.
On 25 Oct, 169 members and officers of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), including five members from the Brunei Armed Forces, left for Lebanon to serve with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to monitor security there.
The team, known as Malcon West 1, was stationed in At Tiri, Lebanon, for nine months to replace the Qatar Infantry Company which withdrew in February.
Previously, 54 officers and members of Malcon West 1 left for Beirut on 18 Oct, increasing the total number of MAF members to 223.
Besides its participation in peacekeeping missions, the MAF was also involved in community service.
However, their contributions appear unrecognised as they maintain a low-profile when helping the local community.
The nation saw MAF’s contributions when the country experienced critical situations such as natural disasters.
On 7 Dec, the MAF constructed a tactical bridge across a monsoon drain to connect Taman Bukit Mewah to Riverdale Park, at the landslide areas in Bukit Antarabangsa here.
In the 4am incident on 6 Dec, four people were killed and 23 others injured when a part of Taman Bukit Mewah in Bukit Antarabangsa experienced a landslide which destroyed 14 bungalows.
When floods occurred several times this year, the military was also sent to help.
In September, a Royal Malaysian Navy was sent to Somalia to monitor the safety of two MISC oil tankers after they were hijacked by Somalian pirates earlier that month.
Throughout the year, the military also monitored the country’s safety, whether on land, sea or air.
Because of this, they also needed improvements to become a more modern and sophisticated force.
This led to plans to buy 12 Eurocopter EC-725 worth RM1.607 billion, to replace their aging fleet of Sikorsky S61-A4 Nuri.
However, the purchase was postponed because the government had to focus on projects that were more beneficial to the people.
One of the finest moments was when the armed forces’ first battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) was given the honour to guard Buckingham Palace in London.
A total of 130 RMR personnel were involved in guarding the Queen’s official residence from 12 April to 6 June.
The regiment was the first Muslim nation team invited to carry out public duties at the palace. — Bernama