Describe your overview of the relations between Malaysia and the United States, in terms of defense collaboration and R&D. Where are you taking your Ministry to in the next two to three years?
Under the leadership of the Right Honorable Prime Minister, we have been considered as friends with the US government. We have recently been upgraded to a joint exercise with the US Air Force – previously Malaysia was only an observer, but now it is a participator. Secondly in terms of the defense industry we are working together with COLT to manufacture M4s locally. This is replacing the M16s. The US Government is confident in us. 85% of the components will be manufactured locally. We have also been given the IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) to manufacture M4s. we have also been given the right to sell guns to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
We are also working very closely with Boeing so that Malaysian companies can manufacture some of the components for Boeing parts. Boeing has asked us to procure MRCA (Multirole Combat Aircraft), if the FMS (Foreign Ministry Sales) and Congress approve that Malaysia be given equipment similar to that used by the US Air Force.
In addition to that, we are improving our relationship with the Pentagon. The Defense Secretary visited me, and I visited him in the Pentagon. My CDF (Chief of Defense Force) and all the civil chiefs and the Army and Navy have visited their counterparts in the US as well. We are also going to work very closely with OIC countries because of our modern approach, as well as the fact we are a moderate Muslim country. We will be able to work with them in order to curb terrorism all over the world, especially in Muslim countries.
As far as the military relationship is concerned, we are being treated very warmly by the defense forces in the US – they are providing us with training for staff in defense colleges. We are sending out senior officials for training in the US. We have never been given special treatment before, but the floodgates have been opened for Malaysia and the US to work closely together.