Armed Forces chief denies military allowed to assault civilians to enforce Covid-19 shutdown
Chief of Defence Force Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang said the deployment of military personnel from tomorrow was strictly to assist the Royal Malaysia Police enforce the MCO
Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — A voice clip spreading online claiming military personnel are permitted to use physical force to enforce the movement control order is false, said General Tan Sri Affendi Buang.
The chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces said the deployment of military personnel from tomorrow was strictly to assist the Royal Malaysia Police enforce the MCO.
“The public is urged to stop sharing the message immediately as this could cause wild speculation and trigger panic,” he said in a statement.
For the more elderly non-Malays who have had experienced the May 13 riots, they naturally fear the Malaysian Army participating in any policing duties of the rakyat. The younger generation who have only heard of May 13 either don't care nor realise the significance of a mainly Malay army in policing Chinese and Indian civilians.
Unlike the police, the army has been trained MAINLY to deal with aggressive foreign enemies of the state, mainly combative opponents and not civilians. They won't be wearing fine kid gloves when they are called upon to police the Malaysian rakyat.
Years back, the police force has an element called the Police Field Force (PFF) which were trained like the army but also in civilian policing control. There was a purpose in such a unit.
Take for example, during the Emergency when the army were in hot pursuit of the communist terrorists, the terrorist-fugitives would slip into the new villages to mingle with the residents there, mainly Chinese. The aim of those terrorist-fugitives was in accordance with the Mao dictum of 'The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea'.
The Police Special Branch (SB) who were experts in Maoism and guerrilla tactics advised the government not to allow the army to continue the chase right into the new villages as no good would have come out of enraged or adrenaline-packed Malay soldiers frisking or searching new Chinese villagers and their houses.
The tactic was for the army to halt their hot pursuit outside the new villages whilst the paramilitary PFF, all trained mata-mata but with military competencies, but who knew how to police and handle civilians, entered and searched the new villages.
That was one of the Malayan-Malaysian government's winning tactics against the Communists, namely, avoiding the US atrocities a la South Vietnam My Lai massacre, which would have turned the general Chinese civilians against the Malaysian government.
The current situation has been foisted upon Malaysians by an all-too-eager but half-past-six LowYat2 Defence Minister, much against the original reluctance of the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang, for his military to participate in the current Movement Control Order (MCO). Mind, some people like a Penang cardiologist-lawyer buruk may merit army soldiers handling him, wakakaka.
I appreciate the efforts of the CDF in continuing to reassure very worried civilians who fear the involvement of the military who, as mentioned, is not trained to police nor handle civilians.
Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang has shown himself to be an apolitical professional of the highest calibre, who wasn't keen in the first place for his military to dabble in police duties and who now assures us that the military personnel cannot wallop recalcitrant civilians, wakakaka. Thinking of that cardiologist-lawyer buruk again, wakakaka.
He stressed that the deployment of military personnel from tomorrow was strictly to assist the police enforce the MCO. Yes, the secondary (not primary) role of the Armed Forces is ONLY to support the PDRM, BUT only when the PDRM (in the person of the IGP) asks for such support.
We all know the IGP did NOT ask for military help - t'was an all-too-eager but half-past-six LowYat2 Defence Minister, but it's no point now in crying over split milk.
Such professional apolitical attitude as shown by Gen Affendi Buang would be typical of highly trained senior military officers brought up under the doctrine of the British military system.
Another fine example of apolitical professionalism was found in (the late) Lieutenant General Abdul Hamid Bidin, the Chief of General Staff, the equivalent of Panglima Tentera Darat (Chief of the Army) today.
In 1969 following the May 13 riots and subsequent Declaration of Emergency, Tun Razak initially proposed to declare martial law as a solution to the post-May 13 chaos that saw a very traumatic and divided nation. But Lt Gen Hamid Bidin advised Tun Razak against that, saying that once martial law was declared, the military (his military) would spread its power throughout the government, and the civilian politicians would never get parliamentary democracy back again, as happened then in Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and South Vietnam.
That was the apolitical professional advice of the Army Chief to a then-very shaken deputy PM. Lt Gen Hamid Bidin could have seized upon unbridled power for himself if he was less professional.
I salute him, no doubt posthumously, for his apolitical professionalism and today I also salute Gen Affendi Buang in that same respect.
By the way, a point of interest, Gen Affendi Buang is a Sarawakian.