The war for the military votes on both sides of the political divide continues.
Recently former Army deputy chief (general), the former Air Force head of logistics (general), a former Navy head of support services (admiral) and a former general in the Kor Agama Angkatan Tentera (Kagat or Military Religious Corps) surfaced to declare their support for Pakatan Rakyat.
These retired high-ranking officers who joined PKR recently are already hitting the ceramah circuit with "guns blazing"(pardon the expression) against what they say are "irregularities, corruption and abuse of power of the BN regime".
They are Datuk Abdul Ghafir Abdul Hamid, Datuk Abdul Hadi Abdul Khatab, Datuk Najmi Ahmad, Imran Abdul Hamid and Tan Sri Md Hashim Hussein. Needless to say Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a close friend from their student days at Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK).
Pakatan Rakyat has its sights on some 250,000 voters living in police barracks and military camps nationwide, hoping to capitalize on the influence of former military leaders who have joined its ranks.
The main target group is definitely the men and women of the Malaysian Armed Forces. There are some 161,000 personnel and spouses eligible to vote in the upcoming general election. Add that to the number of retired personnel and their spouses and we have a massive figure.
The Defense Ministry however is not amused by the antics of its ex big wigs and takes a serious view on the use of ranks by retired Malaysia Armed Forces (MAF) personnel, without approval from the Armed Forces Council (AFC). The ministry's secretary-general, Ismail Ahmad, said the usage of ranks after retirement was an offence, and any officer infringing the order risked facing appropriate action.
"The ministry views the matter seriously. They cannot re-use their ranks as they wish as they are prohibited from doing so by the highest command in the MAF, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," he said in a statement to the press.
Abdul Hadi, who is related with the missing F-5E jet engine incident, is reportedly not allowed by Malaysia Armed Forces Council to be addressed as Brigadier-General.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) School of Politics and International Studies lecturer Md Shukri Shuib said there is a distinct possibility that top secret information could be leaked to the public just to gain political influence.
“We are talking about national security. What will happen if the country’s security, the strength of our armies, or even investment on enhancing our defense systems is leaked out, resulting in concerns that more classified information might be exposed in the group’s efforts to discredit Barisan.
“While other countries are doing their best to upgrade their military without the need to disclose it to the public, here we are, politicizing our forces just to score some political mileage,” he said.
However it appears that the generals are not whole-heartedly with Anwar. It seems more a case of personal issues with the government and the BN leadership. Three of them are more Islam centric. They should be in PAS, not PKR. The three even donned kopiah and were attired just like PAS leaders.
Of the group, Abdul Hadi Khatab is the fiercest but he lacks oratory skills and is repetitive in his arguments. He also said he will reveal all after the elections, which does not make any sense at all. Why does he not reveal now if he really has the facts?
It is questionable that these big wigs have just now decided to struggle for the welfare of army personnel when they did not do so while they were in service. These ex big wigs are themselves enjoying perks such as benefits and high salaries but are now claiming that the government is not taking care of the army’s welfare.
They would do well to remember that some leaders in Pakatan had endorsed the ideology of communism, including praising Mat Indera as the real national hero.
It is shameful that these guys who used to defend the nation are now working with people who support the communists. This is truly an embarrassment to the integrity of the armed forces.