Patriot is a non-partisan, multiracial group of retired military and
police officers whose stated aim is to see a more harmonious and united
nation where everyone feels wanted and contributes his share.
KUALA LUMPUR: Supporting the call by Armed Forces chief Gen Raja
Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor to increase the recruitment of
non-Malays into the forces by 10% annually, the National Patriot
Association today laid bare the reasons non-Malays are no longer
Patriot president Brigadier-General (Rtd) Mohd Arshad Raji said in a
statement the organisation was giving its views as truthfully as
possible to “some of these issues that are ultra sensitive”.
Arshad said from the 1960s until the late 70s, non-Malay Armed Forces
personnel comprised about 30% of the total manpower. The Navy and Air
Force had a higher percentage. Over the years, this figure gradually
dropped to around 5% at present.
He said one reason non-Muslims shied away from joining was because
there was now a distinctive division along ethnic lines in the armed
Saying the government’s affirmative action policies of the 1980s had
seeped into the military administration, Arshad said “strange sayings
like ‘orang kita’ had crept into the minds of military commanders”.
“Slowly and surely, the commanders saw some of those under their
command as half-brothers or stepsons, unlike all as equal previously.
Individuals were not made to feel important and desired. Instead, a
feeling as an ‘outsider’ made many feel unwelcome. Thus began an era of
individualistic and selfish attitude and behavior among those in the
While many generals were sympathetic and caring towards everyone
under their care, the little Napoleons in the ministry of defence – the
civil servants with authority – made policies pertaining to promotion
and enforced an unwritten regulation and a quota system regarding
“In the late 70s and 80s, any promotion for officers above the Major
rank would be considered as political. For military officers and men,
politics was an extra-terrestrial creature. Particularly for the
non-Malay officers, this strange creature entered their lives and
continued to haunt them since the 1980s and left an ever-lasting bitter
taste. When these officers left the service in the 1990s, few would
speak highly of the organisation.”
Arshad said non-Malays did not mind if their really deserving Malay
subordinates got promoted, but “very much undeserving” officers were
actually promoted over the years.
“This was followed by having to address them as ‘Sir’ and salute
their one- time subordinate, which was another demoralising factor.”
He said there was no recourse for complaint and any form of protest
or dissent could be deemed insubordination and an offence under military
“Needless to say, a mediocre officer given promotion and command on
patronage would breed mediocrity and substandard results. Besides,
numerous deserving Malay officers of merit were also adversely affected.
Malay officers who were promoted based on their merit earned loyalty
and respect from the non-Malays.”
The Patriot president said another reason was the military becoming Islamic religion-centric over the years.
“Starting from the late 80s the military had become increasingly
religious-centric and the non-Malays felt more alienated. Officers’ mess
life and the lives of soldiers became very much dictated by religious
sensitivity. This eventually affected esprit-de-corps and comradeship
negatively in multi-racial military units.”
Arshad said these factors not only affected the military but also the police force and other public service organisations.
“The problems faced today are an outcome of the policies and
decisions of our government of the past few decades. Right or wrong, it
is left to history to determine. But we have a prevailing problem today,
i.e., the officers and men who retired a decade or two ago, despite
serving our king and country with honour and pride, do not encourage the
youths to enrol in the military.
“The problem is endemic, a cause-and-effect of the ‘unwritten’ rules
and regulations of the past. To solve the problem, we have to first
recognise the problem. The intention here is not fault finding, rather
to fully comprehend the grievances from the perspectives of the
non-Malays, and help those in position make decisions for the betterment
of our country.”
Arshad said politicians were also to blame for outrageous statements questioning the loyalty of non-Malays.
“Patriotism regarding non-Malays, in particular the Chinese and
Indians, in the military has never been an issue. In fact, since the
pre-independent years, through the first and second emergencies, from
the early years of the Home Guard, Templer’s Super 12, the Federation
Regiment, the Congo peace keeping mission, the Confrontation, the urban
communist terrorism, jungle warfare in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and
Sarawak, non-Malay officers and men fought gallantly alongside their
He noted that the “much cherished success” of security forces against
the Communist Party of Malaya and urban terrorists was to a large
extent due to the many dangerous and highly classified covert operations
of the police Special Branch and military intelligence, many of whom
were of Chinese ethnicity.
He said his group would strive to encourage more non-Malays to join the Armed Forces.