Thursday, October 28, 2010

View From The Left Side Of The Speaker's Chair Part II

When the Government tabled its Budget for 2011 recently, the Opposition, particularly DAP also produced their version of the 2011 Budget. As usual, they promised the sun, moon and the stars and generally strove to show how efficient the public funds are to be used.

I don't give much of a damn to their overall Budget. But as Dzirhan Mahadzir pointed out, their defence allocation for 2011 was something either to be cried or laughed upon. For 2011, the Government allocated RM3.1 billion for defence - the DAP, who I believe views the defence spending as a major source of hanky-panky or that we can defend our country with harsh words proceeded to allocate RM310 MILLION. Now, I don't believe that the esteemed Mr Lim Guan Eng is on the same league with Dr Evil, who thought that a billion is more than a trillion.

Now, what can RM310 million get? According to Dzirhan, if allocated equally, each of the Service branches will get RM96 million. Translated into purchases, that may amount to:
1. Army - 30 AFVs
2. Navy - 1 Patrol Vessel (lightly armed)
3. Air Force - 1 Aermacchi M.346 training aircraft

And that's just for new purchases. And what could 30 AFVs (not MBTs I think), 1 lighty armed (probably with just one 76mm OTO Melara gun or more probably Bofors 40mm and nothing else?) and just one training aircraft do to effectively defend our country? OK, to accomodate such budget, we may not buy anything next year...fine! However, in Part I, it was stated that roughly 65% of the annual budget is allocated for day-to-day operating costs. That means, for 2011, the Armed Forces need RM2.015 billion just to pay its members; to fill fuel for its tanks, AIFVs, APCs, trucks, fighter jets, transport planes, trainers, ships; pay utility bills; maintenance costs; ammo stocks; training and other operational costs. Basically DAP said, directly or by inference, government spending is clouded by 'overpricing', 'inefficiency' and 'graft' which resulted in high costs, especially in the defence sector. Even if that is the truth, and that their public funds management is more 'effective' and 'clean', I don't think RM310 million is enough just to let the Armed Forces do their peacetime job, not to mention warfighting should the need arise.

Now, should that 'shadow' budget is the real budget, it might as well to let our Armed Forces use part of that RM310 million to buy large welcoming mats and banners with the inscription 'WELCOME INVADERS : THIS IS THE BEST WE COULD DO TO WELCOME YOU!" In World War 2, the Luftwaffe, Heer, Kriegsmarine and the Waffen-SS were effectively shackled during the last months of the war because of acute fuel shortage due to the bombing of oil producing and transportation facilities. Should a DAP-led country go to war, TUDM, TLDM and TD will unable to resist because there is practically no fuel and ammo, all because the government thinks that 10% of the average defence budget is sufficient. It also shows how idiotic those people order to garner support, they simply slash the defence budget by 90% , making themselves look good, without thinking the consequences should it ever be implemented.

Dizrhan said that whilst the current (and the past) government screwed up the defence of the country pretty bad, with this shadow Budget, the Opposition actually tried to worsen (rather than better) the record!

Monday, October 25, 2010

View From The Left Side Of The Speaker's Chair

What I'm going to write here is not entirely mine. The original article was written by Mr Dzirhan Mahadzir, a noted local defence correspondence who have written articles, inter alia, in Janes' Defence Review. His article is condensed, paraphrased and, where appropriate, given my own views here.

Basically, what he wrote about is on a well-known alternative media website whose views are decidedly to the left of the Dewan Rakyat Spekaer's chair (you know what I mean!) who despite their claim of being more 'transparent', was not entirely so. So, here's what the MPs and that website (OK, its Malaysiakini) said, and Mr Mahadzir's view on that matter to which I agree.

MK: Total defence spending since 1987 is RM180 billion - the government squandered it on purchasing military equipments (membazir!!!). Despite that, the ATM do not have the ability to fight a war.
DM: Roughly 65% of that sum is actually for OPERATING costs (maintenance, salaries, fuel, other day-to day operating costs) and they forgot the increasing fuel prices too! Whilst the total sum is quite high, it only amounts to roughly RM2.7 billion per year..peanuts really. And as for the military not being able to fight, well as Dzirhan said, if the yardstick is the ability to invade and occupy China, then we fail. But he is (and I am) confident that the ATM is able to fight off invaders when required.

MK : The MINDEF has unlimited purhasing ability. Just snap their fingers and they get their money.
DM : As everybody actually knows (and many choose to forget), government purchasing procedure is one of the most leceh in the world. In many cases, major spending would require the consent of the PM and the Cabinet. Even then it would require the final approval from the Treasury/Finance Minister. Despite citing spending from 1987, Malaysiakini tend to only concentrate on the time period from 2000- today (when the position of the Finance Minister was held by the PM) and conveniently ignored the period before that (when the Finance Minister was a certain someone whose first name is 'Anwar')

MK: KD TAR's inability to dive is proof of bad purchase. Plus we can save costs buy buying PRC-made missiles. Cheap and easy matter what?
DM: MK failed to diffrentiate between purhasing matters and operational matters. As stated before the problem faced by KD TAR is normal among submarine users, not proof that we bought a pig boat. As for the installation of Chinese made missiles, I believe it will get more expensive, rather than cheaper...not to mention the bugs!

MK : The Public Accounts Committee merely rubberstamps the government; Pakatan states that there is a need for a bipartisan committee to investigate matters (such as the Eurocopter deal)
DM: PAC IS a bipartisan committee (a case of someone who knows but choose to forget?). Besides, what would make them see things they did not see in PAC if a new committee is formed? Somehow this reminds me of Star Wars Episode I ("I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!")

MK : The government buys overpriced equipment and that the government did not follow the usual government purhasing norms (buy cheapest!)
DM : Cheapest does not mean the best, or fulfilling the rquirements of the user - cheapest option is not always the RIGHT option. As my brother has pointed out, even buying tyres for your vehicle depends on a number of factors! Defence deals vary based on the logistics, equipment attached, tech transfer, logistics, support and other ancillary options. You simply can't find the average cost by dividing the total cost with the number of items purchased and use good ole Google to compare the price. In spite of those factors, the Opposition did exactly that when questioning the purchase of the Eurocopter EC725 Cougar. They simply questioned why the Barzilian government buys them at a cheaper price without checking the specifications and the ancillary options taken by both governments.

Dizrhan's assesment was that rather than giving a honest appraisal on defence issues, Malaysiakini merely continues to give their biased, anti-government views...which I concur!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Perdana Menteri (Scorpene) Class SSK

Perdana Menteri (Scorpene) - class SSK
Displacement : 1,565 tons (surfaced) / 1,700 tons (submerged)
Length : 61.7m
Beam : 6.2m
Draft : 2.19m
Crew : 32
Propulsion : Diesel-Electric, Batteries
Endurance : 40 days
Max. Operating Depth : >300 meters
Speed : 12 knots surfaced /20 knots submerged

Armament : 6 x 553mm torpedo tubes for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles

In June 2002, as part of its modernisation programme, the Royal Malaysian Navy ordered two Scorpene class submarines developed jointly by DCNS of France and Navantia of Spain. Based on the nuclear-powered Rubis class of the French Navy, the Scorpene class was designed to be an extremely quite vessel - the forms of the hull, sail and appendages were designed to deliver a minimum of hydrodynamic noise. The various items of equipments were mounted on elastic supports which rests on uncoupled blocks and suspended platforms in order to reduce generated noise further.

The Scorpene is powered by two 1,250kW diesel engines and also a 2,900kW capacity batteries. However The RMN's Scorpenes were not equipped with AIPS (Air-Independent Propulsion System) which allows a greater submerged endurance and reduced vulnerability. However the AIPS module can be inserted at a later, if required (perhaps during SLEP?)

For their 'teeth', the Scorpenes are equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes with weapons capacity of 18 torpedoes and/or missiles. The RMN chose Whitehead Black Shark wire-guided torpedoes from Italy and sub-launched SM39 Exocet anti ship missiles from MBDA. Alternatively, 30 mines can be deployed.

Although not much was written about it, it can be safely assumed that the Scorpenes are equipped with passive sonar, active sonar, flank-array, high-resolution sonar for mine and obstacle avoidance and towed array sonar.

During construction, the RMN conducted a competition for naming the submarines. A large number of entries were received and eventually the name chosen were KD Tunku Abdul Rahman (hull #1) and KD Tun Razak (Hull #2) after the first two Prime Ministers of Malaysia.

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was lauched at DCNS Cherbourg, France in October 2007 and handed over to the RMN in January 2009. On July 11 2009 she started her journey home, making port visits at Jeddah, Djibouti and Cochin and finally arrived at Port Kelang on September 3 2009. KD Tun Razak was launched at Navantia, Cartagena, Spain in October 2008. She left Spain on April 30th 2010 and arrived in Lumut on July 3, 2010. Both boats are now based at Teluk Sepaggar Naval Base in Sabah.

Now, some controversies have been linked with the purchase the Perdana Menteris but I will only discuss the technical issues here. A newspaper report stated that KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was unable to submerge on her way to Sabah. Since then news acquired a life of its own with more juicy stories such as it has been laid off for months and that the 'dolphins' would soon lose their ratings for being landed so long. Yeah, I know it's all because of the initial, politically-motivated controversy plus the (I'm sorry to say) general IGNORANCE (perhaps even STUPIDITY) of certain people in our society.

As it turns out, it is just a minor defect. In fact, such initial defects is the norm with military equipments whatever their nationality. In fact such idiots totally forget that even we purchase new vehicles, we are faced with such minor defects be it a Proton or a Merc. As for inability to submerge, the Chief of the Navy rightly points out that KD TAR spends 31 out of 43 days submerged during her voyage from France to Malaysia. What I understood was that some widget need to be replaced or adjusted to suit the tropical waters, that's it!

As for being out of service for three months, the Admiral mentioned that it was actually the maintenance period for the submarine. Scheduled maintenance of ships are not like motor vehicle maintenace which at most took only a whole day! That is also the reason why there should be at least an x number of ships bought by a navy in order to make sure that a certain number are in service whilst a number of orders are down for maintenance, whether for short or long term.

As for the 'dolphins' losing their ratings, it can be rebutted that, in the first place, the submarine IS operational. Furthermore, even if the sub is not, they can still maintain their proficiency using the simulators available. I'm not sure whether RMN uses the 'Gold' and 'Blue' crew system as practiced by the US Navy which allows maximum submarine operating time. (The Gold and Blue crews are at sea every 90 days in turns, unless the boat is down for would they lose their ratings when they are land bound for 90 days?)

Finally the boats are considered strategic assets and should not be discussed openly. Openness has it limits. Sure, if the Oppsoition wants to question the transparecy of the purchase, go ahead, but do not blindly hantam and give erroneous facts just to increase your popularity. The RSN did have problem with their Archer (Västergötland) class SSK. Again it was a minor one and most importantly not blown out of all proportions!

And finally just to show their complete ignorance, some commentators can' t even differentiate between the Scorpene and the ex-Dutch Navy Zwaardvis class SSK, which were berthed, in a sorry state admittedly, at Lumut. The Zwaardvis were originally offered to the RMN but rejected outright. Oh, they can't even differentiate between KD TAR and TR, just 'kapalselam Malaysia'. Furthermore, many readers' comments at certain blogs makes me rates them somewhere between 'idiot' and 'moron'!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-10-10 Tragedy : The Blame Game

By now everybody in Malaysia has heard about the accident at KM223 North South Highway on the 10th of October 2010 - not everything that happened that day was rosy. And usual, people start to point fingers at various authorities. Whether justified or not, I'm not going to say anything about but rather I'd like to criticise us, the public.

Why? OK here's why:
1. The cause of the accident
Eyewitness accounts vary and seriously, eyewitness accounts are not very reliable. But the cause of the accidents probably have something to do with
- speeding. Some eyewitness said that the bus was driven very fast.
- road hogging. Eyewitness said that the bus swerved after trying to avoid a slow-moving, road hogging mini-car
- the bus driver was sleepy. It was alleged that he drank cups of coffee beforehand.
Until the authorities came up with the official report, all those reasons are merely speculative. Anyway, it all points out to human error. Just how many of us drove very fast, hog the roads or driving without adequate rest? It does not matter whether we are driving a public transportation or riding a motorcycle, we all have responsibility for ensuring the safety of ourselves and the other road users.

2. Public spectacle
Road accidents in Malaysia are public spectacles - the more terrible the accident, the 'merrier' it will be. I have seen photos of a massive traffic jam in the aftermath of the accident..on the northbound lane of the highway - the accident took place on the southbound lane. Whilst the southbound traffic naturally comes to a halt because the wreckage blocking all of the lanes, it should not happen on the clear northbound lanes. There are even drivers who parked their car on the roadside! Whilst apparently there is quite a large of people on the scene, most of them prefer just to lounge around or taking photos of the victims (to be uploaded on internet forums or their FB pages, I guess) rather than helping the injured. And since traffic has halted on both sides of the highway, we came to....

3. Blocking of emergency lanes
'Emergency lane' - it's an res ipsa loquitor. Yet when seeing the massive traffic jam, some selfish drivers started to use the lane - only to find their way blocked with nowhere to go. And since all the lanes are now effectively blocked the emergency vehicles were thwarted from arriving at the scene within a reasonable time. From what I read, the jam stretched back 4 kilometers from the scene with drivers trapped for roughly three hours.

Some argued, with hostile tones on why the helicopters of the authorities were not used for casualty evacuation. From what I know, those choppers were not configured for casualty evacuation. Even if the were equipped with such equipment, it probably might not be suitable to use because there is the possibility of the huge downdraft (especially from the big Mi-17 used by the Fire Department) causing havoc with the vehicles on the highway.

Also, one of the victims' brother argued that the emergency services arrived late at the scene. I guess that's because of the massive jams on both sides of the highway. He also argued that medical attention were not given to his brother who eventually died. I guess the rescue teams applied the triage system here where certain seriously injured persons who are unlikely to survive received a lower priority treatment (or perhaps not at all) than the ones who are likely to survive.

Anyway, condolences to the family of all the victims.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Warning! Crooks Have Gone Hi-Tech! (Really?)

Recently I received an e-mail from a colleague which alleged that a crime ring is handing freebies at petrol stations around the country. These freebies were alleged to contain tracking devices which allows the criminals to track and find the victims home so that they can rob them later on.

To support the allegations (and naturally to provide caution), my colleague also attached a scan of a company circular, specifically from Petronas to warn their commercial division about this, uh, threat (click for larger view).

Although personally I have never seen these criminals in action, apparently Petronas viewed this matter seriously, although the circular didn't mention whether the criminals operated at Petronas or other brands' petrol stations. Scary, eh?

However, while browsing through one of my favourite websites, (, I stumble upon an entry entitled 'Crime Ring'. Apparently there are syndicates in Africa, specifically South Africa and Kenya, consisting of Ghanaians and Nigerians (who else?) who operated in the same modus operandi. There are also similar stories (but without naming the nationalities of the perpetrators) in Pakistan and North America. Well as the Mythbusters like to say, this story is BUSTED!

The real story is that Caltex in South Africa started to distribute flashing keyrings as part of their promotional campaign for their diesel. However hoaxers started to post e-mails stating that these keyrings were actually a clever device created by criminals in order to track their victims. Naturally Caltex was infuriated that its promotional campaign has become a victim of hoax/urban legend. The South African police have also confirmed that the e-mail is a hoax.

Now, the hoax has surfaced in Malaysia. Whilst an average Joe (since we're in Malaysia, maybe it should be 'an average Mamat') can be easily duped by such stories, it is almost unthinkable that a giant corporation also fell victim to an urban legend. OK, I understand that they are very concerned about Petronas's reputation but shouldn't they conduct an investigation first? The letterhead looks authentic enough. Perhaps my sister-in-law could help to verify whether the circular is genuine? Because, you know, someone could easily use faked letterheads in order to give authenticity to their story.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I found this entry in my brother's blog and I took up his 'challenge'. However, as I categorize my music files, I use my 'Rockers and Ballads' file for the answers...

1. If someone says, "Is this okay?"
Crazy - Aerosmith
(That would probably my response if someone asked me to do a 'high priority' job with a bloody short deadline)

2. How would you describe yourself?
Keeper of The Seven Keys - Helloween
(OK let me see...oh I only have FIVE keys!)

3. What do you like in a girl/guy?
Santa Fe - Jon Bon Jovi
(What does a city in New Mexico has anything to do with a girl?!)

4. How do you feel today?
18 And Life - Skid Row
(Sometimes I feel like my job is a sentence, alright?)

5. What is your life's purpose?
Wind Of Change - Scorpions
(Life faces constant changes whether at work or private life)

6. What is your motto?
Hangar 18
- Megadeth
(Allegedly a UFO and remains of aliens were stored in Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, US. Hmmm perhaps something to do with my ability to keep secrets)

7. What do your friends think of you?
Master Of Puppets - Metallica
(Oh, I like positive control, have my friends dance to my tune [yeah, right])

8. What do you think of your parents?
Patience - Guns N' Roses
(Only parents would have the patience to raise kids, give them proper education and upbringing)

9. What do you think about very often?
November Rain - Guns N' Roses
(Actually rainy season is my favourite time of the year)

10. What is 2+2?
Blackout - Scorpions
(Uh, is Charlie Eppes around to figure this out?)

11. What do you think of your best friends?
Aces High - Iron Maiden
(Top guys [and girls] all around, they are)

12. What do you think of the person you like?
Never Say Goodbye - Bon Jovi
(You obviously don't want someone you like to go away, do you?)

13. What is your life?
I'll Be There For You - Bon Jovi
(I believe I'm a very reliable person)

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dream Warriors - Dokken
(Uh, I used to dream of becoming a soldier....or someone who have super powers hahaha!)

15. What do you think of when you see the person you like?
To Be With You - Mr Big
(What else?)

16. What will you dance to at your wedding day?
Creeping Death - Metallica
(Can headbanging considered a dance?)

17. What will they play at your funeral?
Allright - Supergrass
(I hope to live my life to the fullest, spiritually and physically)

18. What is your hobby/interest?
Walk This Way
- Aerosmith
(...this way to model shops!)

19. What is your biggest fear?
Love Bites - Def Leppard
(Do I really have to give a reason?)

20. What is your biggest secret?
Symphony Of Destruction - Megadeth
(I love blowing things up! Or see things being blown up!)

21. What do you think of your friends?
Animal - Def Leppard
(Don't worry, they are domesticated)

22. What will you post this as?
One - Metallica
(How appropriate, this is my favourite Metallica song)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

When Reality and Fantasy Collides

Recently, in CARI Forum, an online friend asked some matters relating to the military. One of his questions was whether the Bundeswehr (German Army) has fielded a super-strong, bullet-, shrapnel- and explosive-proof suit called a Juggernaut Suit. Costing millions of dollars (or was it Deutschmark, or Euro?), the suit is issued on limited basis to members of the Bundeswehr (probably in Afghanistan?)

One helpful soul asked whether what he meant actually was the IDZ (Infanterist der Zukunft / Infantry of the Future) program actually testeed in Afghanistan. He said he wasn't sure but his friends told him the things I mentioned in the first paragraph above.

So, I checked out the Internet. What I found made me chuckled to myself. The Juggernaut suit DO the computer game Call Of Duty : Modern Warfare! Which makes me wonder whether that poor guy is a victim of his friends' pranks or that his friends actually believe that whatever exists in the game (whch to my best knowledge do utilize existing weapons; with a smattering of fantasy weapons of course - like the Suit itself) have their real-life counterparts. If it is the latter, a heavy pat on the back is due to be given to the game creators - for making their game so good that people think its REAL. That, or the players are to be given a ROFL treatment for believing in fantasies!