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Few non-Malays in Malaysian armed forces


Kuala Lumpur: “A lack of patriotism” was one of the possible reasons for the small number of non-Malays in Malaysia’s armed forces, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Tuesday.

Chinese and Indians made up less than one percent of the new recruits in 2008-09, Hamidi said in parliament.

While Malays are a little above 60 percent, ethnic minority Chinese are estimated at 24 percent and Indians are 8.1 percent of the 28 million population.

Hamidi said the small number of non-Malays could also be due to various other factors, such as concern over the strict discipline imposed, lower returns compared to jobs in the private sector, lack of encouragement from families and a negative perception towards the army.

“The government does not impose any quota on the recruitment of army personnel, whereby appointments are made based on qualifications and the applicant’s interest in providing service as well as on voluntary basis,” he was quoted as saying by Star Online, website of The Star newspaper.

On how to encourage non-Malays to join the army, Hamidi said activities to promote careers in the army were carried out in public and private higher-learning institutions.

“We have also conducted road tours in chosen schools as well as generated publicity in the print and electronic media, including Chinese and Tamil newspapers,” he said.

He added that school cadet movements were also formed to encourage students to join the army.

There is a sprinkling of ethnic Indians in all the three Malaysian armed forces. Among them was S. Vanaja who was short-listed for Malaysia’s only space mission four years ago.