Monday, March 15, 2010

Well-armed Neighbors



According to Angellica, we have only sold RM100 worth of tickets – representing a mere 20%. Hopefully, those involved can accelerate ticket sales because the show is next Monday! And we are proceeding with the same show – only bigger and better – at HELP University College on Thursday, March 25.

Our cash collection box yielded exactly RM20, which brings the total todate to RM1,371. For a Monday, I suppose it’s a good amount.
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BBC News today highlighted the ‘arms drive’ in Southeast Asia. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that South East Asian nations are ramping up their military capacity in a move that could destabilize the region. It said that arms imports by Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia leapt by 84%, 146% and 722% between 2005 and 2009, compared with the previous five years.

If we didn’t know these countries – we might very well assume that they are getting ready for war! Or that there’s already apparent tension between these countries that they are arming themselves to the teeth. But truth be told, none of these is true.

According to analysts – and this is likely the real reason – these countries have always harbored a deep-seated suspicion of their neighbors – so when one sees another spending more money on defense, it will follow suit. It is popular knowledge that Singapore is wary of Malaysia and Indonesia. And perhaps this is also true vice-versa. I mean, why would Malaysia want to spend RM3.4 billion (according to webpage http://www.mmail.com.my/content/18325-scorpene-beefs-navy, posted November 09, 2009) to buy two Scorpene-class submarines? And this price does not include the additional costs of building a naval base in Telok Sepanggar, Sabah, to house these submarines, as well as maintenance costs and spare parts. Which nation is threatening us? Or as The Malaysian Insider proclaimed “Scorpene subs a wish come true, says Zahid” (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/36772-scorpene-subs-a-wish-come-true-says-zahid, dated September 03, 2009) meaning our Defense Minister Ahmad Zaid Hamidi was acknowledging that the Government bought these subs because they were on the Malaysian Armed Forces wish list and Christmas was around the corner!

And as economies in the region expand and there are more funds around, it is thought likely we will see ever more of this arms competition in South East Asia. Aren’t arms spending a sheer waste of public funds for developing countries? Have we misplaced our priorities? Do we really know what our priorities are? Okay, it's a done deal – it's no use crying over spilled milk. But this news report has awakened a citizen's disappointment with his government!

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