Government deploys Malaysian Armed Forces

Malaysian Armed Forces cover pic
Malaysian Armed Forces deployed to help with the Movement Control Order
Image adapted from: Straits Times

On 20th March 2020, Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yakoob announced that Malaysia will be deploying its military from Sunday onwards to assist the police in enforcing the government-implemented Movement Control Order (MCO). This sparked concern from residents as the word “military” is enough to send Malaysians into another fit of panic.

Things were only made worse by the fake voice note that was spread through WhatsApp, claiming that military personnel were allowed to hit members of the public who defy the Malaysian Armed Forces’ (MAF) orders. According to NST, Armed Forces Chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang released a statement to deny the allegations made in the 39-second long voice note and urged the people to stop spreading unverified information as it could cause unnecessary panic among Malaysians.

Now that things have begun to settle down, Malaysians are starting to see that the military presence at roadblocks and grocery stores is not something to worry about as they are only there to help the country enforce the 2-week MCO. However, a former deputy defence minister has also come out to clear up the confusion regarding MAF’s roles and capabilities outside of patrolling.

Liew Chin Tong explains what MAF does in times of crises

Former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong has made a video titled “Malaysian Armed Forces During Crises” to shed light on the duties of MAF in times of crises as many Malaysians may assume that their primary role during this COVID-19 outbreak is to patrol the city.

Liew Chin Tong tweet
Image adapted from: @LiewChinTong

In reality, the primary role of MAF is to fight and prepare for wars, but Liew has also stated that part of MAF’s secondary role is to assist civilian authorities (policemen and PDRM officers) as well as deal with disasters. This is why you may have seen the MAF in action during floods and earthquakes.

Lee’s 2-minute video can be found on his Twitter page, and here’s a brief rundown on what the army does when they’re activated:

  • Engineering unit – build emergency buildings and structures as needed.
  • Medical corps – doctors and dentists working in the Malaysian Armed Forces.
  • Transport and logistics – to provide essential supplies even in hard to reach locations.

MAF building
Image adapted from: @LiewChinTong

In a separate interview with The Edge Markets, Liew provided a more extensive list to MAF’s duties and capabilities. This includes:

  • Disinfection efforts
  • Relay important information to the public
  • Prepare extra beds and wards in military hospitals to supplement public hospitals

MAF handing out supplies
MAF personnel handing out supplies
Image credit: @LiewChinTong

MAF has a crucial role during emergency situations

It is clear to see that the Malaysian Armed Forces have a very important role to play during this COVID-19 pandemic, especially if the number of confirmed cases in the country continues to spike. If necessary, MAF personnel are the ones who will be disinfecting the streets, building temporary hospitals to combat the shortage of facilities, as well as providing essentials such as food and medicine to members of the public who have been greatly affected.

It is important for Malaysians to understand the full range of capabilities the MAF has so that we’re better aware of how things will go down if our country were to  hit a crisis.

Read up on more COVID-19 news here:

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