Thursday, 7 March 2013


I can't resist the temptation to offer some comments and I feel qualified to do so on Sabah 'war' vis a vis the roles of the Police and the Armed Forces.

The roles of the Armed Forces and the Police are somewhat connected. 

Both are responsible for the final objective of maintaining peace, order and security of the country. 

In a democracy the police is given the power to enforce laws, and this is their primary role, and the Armed Forces or Defence Forces exist for defence purposes. 

The law enforcement of course is required internally within the country. 

However though rare can happen at the fringes of our border in hot pursuit situation or through international arrangement (Interpol) externally. 

The defence threats are normally external. 

However, internal defence threats can also exist internally, like insurgencies and terrorism. 

Therefore we cannot divide the roles between the two organisations purely based on geography. 

We must remember our Defence Forces were designed for internal purposes or wars at the beginning. 

We must also remember that our Police developed military capabilities, the VAT 69 and the PGA to augment the Defence Forces in the internal security job. 

When come to defence job, it is absurd to say that our Defence Forces form a second line of defence. 

In a democracy, the goverment is normally reluctant to use the Defence Forces against their own citizens except in extreme necessity because of possible excessive violence probably used by the Forces. 

Military is a 'specialist of violence'

However, the military can be used to augment the police, say in public order situation. 

This is an aid to civil power in the military doctrine. 

This is the only time when the military comes under the operational control of the Police at the tactical level. 

When emergency is declared, the Military takes full power.

In the case of Sabah 'war', it was more prudent to treat it as a defence matter after the enemy was identified and they refused to negotiate. 

Their capabilities assessed and not solely relying on their intentions to guide our actions. 

Maybe that was the mistake done by the Police. 

It is a mistake to base our response based on predicted enemy intentions rather than their capabilities. 

If we had treated the Sabah problem as a defence matters, loss of lives could have been avoided. 

Our military is capable of enforcing graduated force with better force protection. 

The military professional has to profess. 

What I mean is that the military must advise the government and be convincing enough befitting a true professional because the government is deemed to be the laity (layman).

This article written by: Laksamana Madya (B) Dato' Mat Rabi Abu Samah

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