KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) will be ready in the event of any decision or mandate to be deployed as a peacekeeping force to Palestine, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (pix).
He said this included the country’s MALBATT peacekeeping unit under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), if required urgently, including for the purpose of evacuating Malaysians in affected areas.
“Although there has been no decision on the matter as of now from the United Nations (United Nations), we are ready and the ministry is closely following developments in Palestine and cooperating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“So if the government says send troops to Palestine, we will follow (the directive), because any decision on that is not within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence, but rather subject to the (decision of the) Ministry of Foreign Affairs,“ he said when winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2024 for his ministry in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Mohamad said any decision to unilaterally send troops to Palestine required careful assessment from various parties, including the neighboring countries in the troubled region.
In the meantime, Mohamad said he would bring up issues related to Palestine as a side topic at the ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting next week to listen to the voices of the countries in the region regarding the conflict.
“We want to get ASEAN’s voice, because we have one belief which is ASEAN Centrality, if all ASEAN countries agree to us sending troops to Palestine under the UN banner,“ he said.
Mohamad said that until now, Malaysia had always been committed to providing support to achieve universal peace under the UN banner and this had been proven through its involvement in 37 missions, either as an observer or peacekeeping force.
“Among them in Congo, Somalia, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia Herzegovina, East Timor and most recently in Lebanon, even now, MAF is still involved in five international missions under the UN,“ he said.
Meanwhile, responding to Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim’s (PN-Arau) question as to whether the government intended to send peacekeepers to Palestine through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Mohammad said the matter was up to Wisma Putra’s consideration since it involved other countries.
In other developments, Mohamad said the three branches of the MAF – the Army, Navy and Air Force – would begin the process of acquiring new assets.
He said this involved the procurement of 60 infantry armoured vehicles for the Army; three Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) and the refit of two submarine assets for the Navy; and 12 new helicopters for the Air Force.
“Border security will continue to be strengthened and maintained with the construction of seven posts, among them in Melikin and Pa’ Daleh, Sarawak,“ he said.
Touching on the development of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) project, Mohamad said it would continue on the basis that it was necessary to strengthen and improve the operational capabilities of the Navy
“The ministry is fully focused on moving forward, making sure the LCS are built according to the schedule as outlined in the sixth supplemental agreement signed in May,“ he said. -Bernama