Monday, 25 January 2016

Tun Razak's Legacy extends to nation's defence and security

IT was a great honour and privilege for me to have been invited to attend The Legacy of Leadership Special Commemorative Seminar on Tun Abdul Razak Hussein on Jan 14. It was most refreshing to hear Tun Razak’s great achievements during his tenure as Malaysia’s second prime minister. 

I do not intend to repeat what was said at the seminar, but suffice for me to add that every one should know and understand his legacy. Speakers extolled various aspects of his nation-building strategy that earned him the title Bapa Pembagunan (Father of Development). 

The Rukun Negara, New Economic Policy, Federal Land Development Authority, Malaysian Investment Development Authority and Federal Land and Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority were among the hallmarks of Tun Razak's nation-building programme. I, humbly, would like to add another important strategy that was not mentioned enough during the seminar, that is defence and security. 

Emeritus Professor of History Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim reminded us of the enormous challenges the nation and our leaders faced after World War 2, which cut across every spectrum of the geopolitical framework in the region and the world. Military pacts, such as Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation and Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA), to mention a few, were to provide elements of stability to the region’s new emerging nations. 

The communist insurgency was a major threat to the peace and stability of the nation, and AMDA was fully utilised. Tun Razak understood the depth of the threat, especially the “Fish and Water” strategy applied by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). 

I recall that Tun Razak, as defence minister, directed the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College to do a study on the correlation of security and development on nation-building. The final study concluded that you cannot separate development and security, meaning there will not be development without security, and likewise, you cannot achieve a high level of security without a meaningful development programme. 

This was presented to Tun Razak and he officially declared his strategy of Keselamatan dan Pembangunan (KESBAN). As we all know, he was also the rural development minister. Tun Razak was the first defence minister, and he had General F Brooke (Jan 1956-Oct 1959) and General Sir Rodney Moore (Oct 1959-Jan 1964) as head of the Malaysian Armed Forces. 

Both generals understood fully Tun Razak’s vision of what the armed forces should be. General Moore was replaced after five productive years as chief of the armed forces by General Tan Sri Tunku Osman Tunku Mohd Jewa in 1964, and two other Malaysian officers, for the first time, took over command of the Royal Malaysian Navy (Vice-Admiral Tan Sri K. Thanabalasingam) and Royal Malaysian Air Force (Air Vice-Marshall Tan Sri Sulaiman Sujak). 

Tun Razak understood how the military conducted its business, and its aspiration and needs. The frequent visits to military operation rooms, where he was briefed on operations using sliding boards with maps and charts, gave him the insight of the military system of passage of information and storage of data. 

He used a similar system for his rural development programme, and every state and district office has its own operation room with up-to-date development programmes. Three of his sons spoke of him with lots of emotion at the seminar. 

I humbly seek Datuk Seri Nazir Razak’s permission for me to quote him when he said: “I was only 9 when my father died. I do not know him as well as most of you here.” Such a feeling is only natural, and it also reflects how closely-knit the family is and how the children were raised and nurtured by Tun Razak and, of course, their beloved mother, Tun Rahah Noah. 

Tun Razak was the first defence minister the Malaysian Armed Forces had and we, too, lost a bapa. KESBAN remains a legacy which is one of the pillars of nation-building, and is still very valid. 

Tun Razak also reminded us that the nation’s defence and security cannot, and must not be taken for granted. 

GENERAL (R) TAN SRI HASHIM MOHD ALI, Chairman, The Chiefs’ Circle (The New Straits Times)

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