"An army is a miniature of the society which produces it."

- CLR James (The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution)

COMMENT Many former and current serving armed forces personnel are bewildered by Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar's comments that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was addressing the crowd in the Lumut Naval Base about "solidarity" and not "politics".

Why do our Armed Forces need a lecture in solidarity? Whom do they have to come together against? And the implication here, considering that Mahathir is the Perkasa patron, is that solidarity means Malay/Muslim solidarity and the question, then becomes, is this the kind of solidarity that a supposedly multiracial 1Malaysia Armed Forces requires?

Furthermore, Abdul Aziz has the temerity to claim that the reasonwhy First Admiral (Rtd) Mohd Imran Abdul Hamid, who is a Pakatan Rakyat candidate in the May 5 general election, was not allowed to enter the base was because "he will talk on politics, interspersed with slander, and will anger the personnel here... we don't want any agenda to be brought in that will divide the people."

So not only has Abdul Aziz made a judgment that borders on libel on a former admiral but he continues to pander to the establishment in this country by furthering their narrative that anybody not belonging to Umno (a political party) or supportive of its agenda, is hostile to the very institutions that are supposed to remain non-partisan.

NONEThis is not the first time Abdul Aziz has done this. He gained notoriety among a certain non-partisan section of retired Armed Forces personnel when he was one of the service chiefs lined up behind Armed Forces chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin when he launched an attack on service personnel who complained about electoral malfeasances in the military; one of whom, was a former Navy chief, the highly respected Admiral Mohammad Shariff Ishak.

Right-thinking Malaysians may recall that those men who brought up this matter, from an opposition platform, were deemed "treacherous".
This of course is one in a long line of political agitations by serving armed forces officers, who claim that they are apolitical but somehow always manage to further the agenda of Umno.
Let us not forget the former air force general, who was still serving when he reminded service personnel to "not bite the hand that feeds them".

This is not the only time

Furthermore, right-thinking Malaysians should also be aware that this is not the only time that politicians and their lobby groups have been allowed to "campaign" in the Lumut naval base.
Here is a list of other such "political" activities that Abdul Aziz should find uncomfortable, since he claims to be against such activities:

April 18

Perkasa presentation on ‘Perpaduan Melayu' (Malay Unity)

Place: Dewan Sidek KD Pelandok Lumut

Present: Perkasa vice-president Abdul Rahman Abu Bakar, Vice-Admiral (rtd) Mat Rabi Abu Samah, Zahid Mat Arif (grandson of former deputy prime minister Ghafar Baba), Navy chief Abdul Aziz, his deputy, fleet operational commander and senior officers.

(Readers may be interested in the strange nexus of the military and political establishments involving Ghafar Baba's family. While the grandson attends pro-establishment meet-ups with the outsourced thugs of Umno - Perkasa - Ghafar Baba's son and former Umno partisan Mohd Tamrin Abdul Ghafar has thrown his lot in with the opposition, claiming that a cabal within Umno that included Mahathir orchestrated May 13. It does get a little stranger though; the daughter of the late Ghafar is the wife of Navy chief Abdul Aziz and the subject of this piece.)

April 25

Religious address by Ustaz Kazim Elias (a strong BN supporter)

Place: Field with tent at Block A6 in Lumut Naval Base

Present: Navy chief Abdul Aziz and caretaker Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir

April 29

Address by caretaker Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi

Place: Dewan Sidek KD Pelandok

Present: Navy chief Abdul Aziz and senior officers

24 April

Navy personnel were ordered to attend a political function held at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Panjang

Presentations were given by caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Zambry

Minions of the state 

Of course, one has to wonder about Abdul Aziz's definition "of not talking about politics" when the former prime minister warned those in attendance "not to vote emotionally as having the wrong people rule the country would result in a failed Islamic state." Is this not a political sentiment?

Moreover, should it not be "another failed Islamic state" since, the former PM has claimed that Malaysia is an Islamic state? Okay, depending on your partisan bent or how much of kool aid you have consumed, the "failed state" appeal to emotion is a powerful draw.

NONEHowever, it does not take a genius to figure out who these "wrong people" are, considering that former admiral Imran (right), who was denied entryinto the base, is running on a PKR ticket. This is the problem here. Since when did the military decide who are the "right" or "wrong" people to run this country?

I have devoted a considerable amount of space to what many others consider the lack of professionalism, and I should say dereliction of duty, when it comes to maintaining the apolitical nature of the armed forces. Not to mention - and I suppose I should be careful lest I am sued by the Navy - for politicising the numerous corruption scandals that have surfaced, like non-functioning submarines.

Depoliticisation of our military

I have always wondered why the armed forces never sued Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali when he boasted that if he had an army base in his Pasir Mas constituency, he would surely win any election he stood in.

Seeing as how easily Perkasa and those supposed 1Malaysian politicians are given access to our Armed Forces, there should be no doubt that our Armed Forces has been compromised by the agendas of the current regime.

When a pro-establishment blogger is given access, and then publishes his "exclusive" on his blog, to a submarine and personnel it is merely evidence that there needs to be a scorched-earth policy when it comes - if it ever comes to that - to reforming the Armed Forces.

NONELet me be very clear. My issue is not that a PKR political candidate was denied entry into a naval base - although I do consider barring a former Navy admiral from a naval base the height of unprofessionalism and discourtesy - but rather that the Armed Forces have become so radicalised politically by Umno that minions of the state are allowed to use them as tools to maintain hegemony.

I have no desire to see either alliance "campaign" in military bases and I do not even desire equal time for the opposition alliance in military bases, despite the fact that BN campaigns there freely.

What I want as a Pakatan partisan is the assurance by Pakatan that if it ever comes into power, reforms would be carried out on the Armed Forces that would return the security apparatuses of this country into apolitical organisations that would not debase them by pandering to the dictates of their political masters.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

~ Malaysiakini