Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Selamat Hari Raya

Well tonight would be my last night on the net as tomorrow I would be heading home to celebrate the Hari Raya on Wednesday and will not get access to the internet for some. So to all of you have a safe journey this Hari Raya season and may you enjoy the celebrations. However do not forget those who may not be able to enjoy the festivals as you are able to do so, and my thoughts especially goes to the MISC sailors and Royal Malaysian Navy and Special Forces men in the Gulf of Aden, may you all can get home in time for the Hariraya and to the rest of you out there, may you get a taste of home wherever you are.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Maaf Zahir Batin

Breaking Fast With A Secret

Since we rarely eat out during this Ramadhan, I thought I would treat my family to buffet style breaking fast this last weekend of the month. My choice is a restaurant that to me serves the best buka puasa spread that is value for money, and it is no other than one of the best kept secrets, the Rahsia restaurant in Jalan Damai, Kuala Lumpur. More well known as a bar and bsitro, I guess not many people know that this is a great location for breaking fast with a family, and for those who want to do their prayers they have for their convenience a whole room on the bungalow the restaurant is located in to carry out their duties. This and the fact their food still tastes home -cooked even though served buffet style clinch the restaurant as the choice for the one and only buka puasa event outside the home for the family. The best thing is that even though they have added a barbeque section serving barbecued lambs, satay and chicken in addition to a fried noodles station serving just cooked mee goreng and char kuey teow, the price for the buffet only increased by two ringgit since last year's Ramadhan.

You can choose to have your meal in the garden under the stars or inside the bungalow or on the upstairs verandah, though the last choice would entail you travelling quite a distance as they only serve the buffet on the two long tables at the downstairs verandah. Even though I requested to eat inside when I made my reservations as I worried about possible rain, they requested that I eat outside as they lost my reservation and they have already prepared the inside for large groups of diners. No loss actually as the weather was fine and we had a great time eating under the stars, especially since I requested for the centre umbrella to be removed. Either place was also not far from the food as it was located midway, so you do not have to move far to reach the buffet tables. Another point I liked about the place is that it seems to be patronised by a higher class of people, therefore there was no rush for food and the food need not be replenished so frequently, so the food was not prepared in bulk as normal buffet places tends to do so the taste was preserved.

Now let's talk about the food. The buffet spread offers a spread that is true to their advertisement, though tonight I was not interested in kampong style dishes though my wife told these were cooked without any stinginess in the ingredients. Thus they are as good as home-cooked ones, though this also means for those that cannot stomach hot stuff, to be aware as their chili factor is as authentic as the original recipe. You have been warned! Tonight is the night for me to practise my Atkins diet and I did this with glee as the amount I ate was really worth the meal ticket. First up was the spicy beef soup where I took four large pieces of melt in your mouth beef steaks swimming in nicely spiced soup, and here spiciness is the key and not heat in your mouth sort of sensation. This was followed by a platter of the restaurants chicken satay accompanied by two pieces of barbecued lamb on the bone, medium cooked to my request fresh off the grill. This was accompanied by a mint sauce and thai chili sauce, though the satay peanut sauce was also a good dip for the lamb. Finishing this really filled up my belly and this signalled it was time for me to do my prayers. But that did not mean the end of the meal for me. Far from it. In fact before I forget may I inform you that you do not really need to order any additional drinks with buffet, as they include a fruit punch and Ais Batu Campur(ABC) drink in the buffet. And this is no watered down drinks, they are a hearty concoction and both are chockful of fruit mix and ABC ingredients including real salted peanuts in the ABC. Well on to the next round of my meal and this was the fried noodles with whole prawns in it, with a sampling of green beef rendang, fried chicken and a barbecued chicken drumstick. Even though these tasted great, it was still a chore to finish as my belly was already stretched beyond its normal fasting limits, thus I took some time to finish them and I had to remind myself it is bad to waste good food. And yes for the parents reading this, I can vouch that the fried chicken, sausages and potatoes and the barbecued stuff would delight your children as they did mine. And the nicest surprise was that at the end of the meal the restaurant decided to be generous and told me that the children ate for free, a fifty ringgit savings there itself. So for a price of a single person's buffet at a hotel restaurant or other hoighty-poity outlets elsewhere, my family really ate well tonight. So you can believe me that we will return next Ramadhan to this pleasantly fulfilling secret garden.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Over The Horizon Protection

In naval warfare, the ability to hit the enemy without the enemy seeing you is a highly desirable capability and thus Over The Horizon (OTH) missile shooting capabilty, though coveted by many navies, is only capable to be carried out by only a select number of navies in the world. OTH is the ability to shoot a target over the horizon where due to the curvature of the earth, such a target is usually unseen by a naked eye and such targetting is usually assisted by a third party who acts as the eyes for the missile launching unit to guide the missile in midflight. Well let me stop boring you with the technical details but the Royal Malaysian Navy joined the OTH club when they inducted the Laksamana-class corvettes, armed with 180 kilometres range Otomat missiles. Paired with a helicopter through a teleguidance system, the missiles are able to hit a target that may be too far to locate the small sized missile corvette, allowing the corvette to punch beyond its weight class. Yesterday the RMN conducted such an OTH missile firing exercise in the Malacca Straits using the Laksamana Nadim as the launch unit, and the target was hit successfully from sixty kilometres away, proving the missiles that has been in the navy's inventory since 1996 is still a deadly killer. Following is a video of the successful missile hit as taken from last night's Buletin Utama news bulletin from TV3.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

If You Want To Do It, Do It Properlyla!

Disclosure : My wife still does not wear the tudung or hijab as she feels that she is still not ready to wear it properly. The reason being is that to her this is an amal or task that should be carried out properly, and not just worn as something fashionable or worse still to follow the crowd. This is the reason you may increasingly find someone who is assiduous in wearing the hijab at the workplace is 'naked' elsewhere. So let me give you this gentle reminder courtesy of Yipun78 from my Cari forum.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Register Of RMN Active List Ships - Logistics Support

Meeting The Navy's Amphibious Needs

The need to maintain a credible strike and patrol force has to be balanced out with the need to have amphibious deployments, especially for the smaller navies, in particular for those nations that have regions divided by a wide expanse of water like Malaysia or those with a long coastline that would render its borders quite porous to defend unless forces can be easily deployed to the area. Therefore the navy is supposed to be able to transfer and support any military initiatives in disparate areas of operations in times of war. Peacetime crisis would also require the navy to assist in the provision of humanitarian efforts in situations like disaster relief and evacuation. The RMN themselves can trace their amphibious roots to the time when the Royal Navy’s Malay Navy seamen manned converted merchantmen that were later used to evacuate evacuees after the fall of British Malaya and Borneo. When the Malayan Naval Force was institutionalised, their first formal warship commissioned was the LCT Mk3 numbered as 341(MRC 1401), signifying one of the core roles the Force was expected to assume. After the Royal Malaysian Navy was established, procurement of assets required to carry out amphibious tasks was not overlooked, using both British and American designs. This started with the Ex-HMS Counterguard, a LCT Mk8 renamed as KD Sri Langkawi which was subsequently replaced by an American 511 class LST also named as the KD Sri Langkawi and later followed by two newer 542 class LST vessels, the KD Sri Banggi and KD Raja Jarom. Although designated as amphibious ships, the RMN actually used these ships in various supporting roles. This led the RMN to decide to bring in the following vessels that are still active in the logistic role for the fleet today although a second flare up that occured on the Inderapura class LST in 2009 has now left the navy with only two serviceable logistics ships. Nonetheless this incident seems to have accelerated the process to purchase new multirole support ships to enhance the navy's logistics role even further.

Indera Sakti Class Multi-Purpose Command and Support Ship

KD Sri Indera Sakti 1503 1979/1980
KD Mahawangsa 1504 1981/1983

Warships on operations at sea need the support of "mother" ships or tenders. In the RMN, this job is undertaken by two Multi-Purpose Command and Support Ships, the KD Sri Indera Sakti and KD Mahawangsa. These ships are however also usable as command and control ship and troop transport as a large operations room, vehicle holds and diver compression chamber is included in their configuration. The KD Sri Indera Sakti, commissioned on November 7, 1980 is armed with one 57mm Bofors MK 1 forward gun and two 20mm single guns that are controlled by a fire control system. Bremen Vulkan in West Germany built the ship. The sister ship, KD Mahawangsa, was built in South Korea by Korea Tacoma and commissioned on May 16, 1983. Physically she differs slightly from the KD Indera Sakti in that she is fitted with two instead of one 57 mm Bofors MK 1 single guns, the incorporation of additional special capacity to load ammunitions and the enlargement of the helicopter deck by the repositioning of her engine funnel. Nevertheless both ships have the same dimensions and have similar capabilities, including helicopter-landing decks. They are generally used as logistics support ships for the RMN fleet for long distance voyages or patrol and as supply ships. In addition to their general duties, they are used as training ships for cadets since in addition to a crew component of 140 officers and ratings; they are able to accommodate additional 215 men. These ships can travel up to a maximum distance of 22,400 km without refuelling and is fitted with replenishment equipment including a 15-ton crane. It can carry 1,300 tonnes of diesel and 200 tonnes of fresh water, with 300 square metres of provision space. On deck, there is also space for 10 20-foot containers. In addition up to 17 armoured vehicles and 600 troops can be carried allowing these ships to be used as transports for Malaysian international missions, especially into war torn areas. Their weaponry also ensures that they are able to defend themselves even when operating alone. Moreover, they can also provide firing support for the navy's amphibious operations. All these capabilities prove that these ships are true Multi-Purpose Command and Support Ships.

Displacement: 1800 tons standard, 4300(4900 1504) tons full load
Dimensions: 100 m (103 M)x 14.9m x 4.8m
Guns: 1(2) x Bofors 57mm/70 Bofor SAK Mk 1, 2 x 20mm Oerlikon GAM-BO1. (Range : Main 17 Km, Aux : 2 Km/ 1.6 Km)
Electronics: Decca TM 1226, Naja Optronic Fire Control System
Propulsion: 2 x Deutz S/BMV6 540 diesels at 5986hp to two shafts, bow thrusters, controllablepitch propellers
Speed: 16.5 knots, range 7400 Km at 14 Knots.
Crew: 140 + 215
Aircraft: Platform Aft

Sri Gaya Class Fast Troop Vessel

KD Sri Gaya 331 1998/2001
KD Sri Tiga 332 1998/2001

The RMN in May 2001 commissioned their newest vessels, the locally built KD Sri Gaya and KD Sri Tiga in Labuan, Sabah. Named after islands in Sabah, they were originally built in 1998 as fast ferries for a local ferry service company but the order was cancelled. Instead, the Navy will now use them as Fast Troop Vessels (FTV). Costing RM16 million each, the 37.5 metre aluminium monohull FTV's were built by PSC-NDSB using Australian technology. These vessels are specially designed to suit the local environment in having reinforced structure for rugged use and are also designed for easy manoeuvrability in shallow waters. Both vessels will serve with the 33rd Supply Squadron that serves the navy's offshore stations besides handling rapid troop movements to locations off Sabah and Sarawak, in their role as light logistics vessels. Built on a modular system, the FTV's configuration depends on the platform installed in the centre deck whether to carry troops or supplies in its 20-foot containers, four of which can be fitted. The FTV can also be configured to perform a host of other missions with. It can carry general cargo, marine ambulance and even be used as diving platforms. In addition, the FTV will boost the navy's surveillance capability over national waters in Sabah as they can also be used to patrol the seas in an auxiliary capacity with the installation of a 20mm gun. The FTV's multi-mission function is the vessel's plus point in the navy's operation.

Displacement: 116.5 tonnes
Dimensions: 37.5 m x 7.2m x 1.4m
Guns: Test fitted for Giat 15A 20mm
Electronics: Furuno Radar
Propulsion: 4 x MAN D2842 LE 408 at 1971hp to 4 Hamilton 521 waterjet propulser
Speed: 28 knots, range 1000Km at 14 knots
Crew: 8 + 32 in FTV role, 8 + 232 in ferry role.

Combat Boat 90 H FPB

21-24 1999
25-36 2001

As a maritime nation that has numerous small islands, it is necessary for the Royal Malaysian Navy to be equipped with many small patrol boats for efficient island patrols. Although designed to carry half a platoon of troops, the CB90H version C fast patrol boat is the Royal Malaysian Navy's latest acquisition for rapid deployment missions in the nation's territorial waters. Four of the dynamically shaped boats produced by Swedish firm Dockstavarvet entered the RMN inventory in 1999 to fulfil patrolling tasks of Offshore Station Units, especially in the disputed Spratly Islands chains and for surveillance and interception duties against illegal activities in the nation's large river systems and islands. In 2001, an additional 12 units were progressively inducted into the fleet for use in Sabah waters to face serious incursion threats from neighbouring criminal elements. The CB90H are also used for evacuation and search and rescue missions by the RMN. These boats uses a waterjet system for propulsion in place of propellers with a reverse bucket system for forward and reverse motion giving it the ability to operate even in shallow depths. The CB90H is also equipped with an integrated computerised navigational system. The CB90H has a welded aluminium construction with a reinforced bottom to withstand rough landings on all types of shoreline through her forward bow ramp. One of the most spectacular stunts it can pull of is a complete stop from full speed in less than two and a half boat lengths (37m). The maximum speed is 45 knots but when embarked with assault troops the speed is reduced to 38 knots. The boat carries a crew of four for ordinary patrol and eight for special operations. In maritime operations, it can carry up to 22 fully equipped troops or two tonnes of cargo. Consistent with her role for patrol and reconnaissance, the boat is also able to carry a number of mines that can be released directly from the boat. The boats can also operate for a period of 10 hours at sea with a constant speed of 40 knots. For weaponry, the boat can also be fitted with a heavy machine-gun or twin 120mm mortars, mines or SSM. With these features together with its small size, these combat boats can ably shoulder the navy's responsibilities in guarding the nation against low-level threats.

Displacement: 12 tons standard 15.8 tons full load
Dimensions: 14.9m x 3.8m x 0.8m
Guns: 2 x 12.7 GPMC, 1 x 20mm Giat 15A tested, mine-rails with room for 6 mines
Electronics: Navi-Sailor and digital charts with Trimbel 8-channel differential GPS, Furuno Search Radar
Propulsion: 2 x Scania DSI 1475M diesels giving 1286hp to 2 unit Kamewa/FF jet 410 water jets Speed: 45 knots, range 440 Km at 30 knots
Crew: 3 + 22 fully equipped personnel or two tonnes of cargo.

Register Of RMN Active List Ships - Secondary Combatants

Filling Out The Needs Of The Navy
The transfer of seventeen patrol assets to the Malaysian Coast Guard arm including two large Offshore Patrol Vessels has left the Royal Malaysian Navy with availablity of vessels to patrol the vast waters separating both sides of the nation in short supply. The delay in concluding the purchase of two enhanced frigates and the second batch of NGPV and the implementation of the market rumoured plan to procure littoral surface combatants to replace the aging fast attack craft squadrons has further exacerbated the situation. This has resulted in these patrol combatants soldiering on in a role they were not optimally designed for, assisted by the other remaining combatants in the fleet the mine counter measure vessels and the sole remaining training frigate as patrol auxilliaries. In addition the repainting of the hydrographic vessels to navy grey with new pennant numbers seems to indicate that these have now taken on a more combatant role than they were when painted in civilian white. Thus it is hoped that the addition of new combatants can be accelerated to relieve the pressure faced by the fleet in securing the nation's maritime borders.

Perdana Class FAC-M

Perdana 3501 1971/1972
Serang 3502 1972/1973
Ganas 3503 1972/1973
Ganyang 3504 1972/1973

Ordered in 1970, the Perdana class is close to the norm in displacement and dimensions of standard La Combattante IID class FAC(M)s. The main difference is that the Perdana class comes with a modified weapons fit as compared to those generally found in the class. Built by Construction Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) Cherbourg, the Perdana's are the first Royal Malaysian Navy vessels to be fitted with Exocet missiles for surface warfare. The vessel packs enough punch in her small size for warfare in the relatively shallower and confined waters of the territory where her manoeuvrability and speed is an advantage against larger vessels. This allows the vessels in times of war to operate more effectively in the area's combat operations despite her small size and comparative lack of sophistication although their ESM suite has been upgraded to Thales DR3000S. However, these FAC anti-ship platforms are not adequately defended against air and sub-surface threats and with a limited durability in open seas, makes them unsuitable for long-range patrolling and protecting of offshore installations in the South China Sea. Although not quite with sea denial capability, these FAC's still provide credible enforcement and offensive value to the navy as they can temporarily close off choke points until the more capable navy vessels arrive to take up the fight. Nonetheless recent photographs of the class seems to indicate that their missiles have been removed during operations and now operate as gun equipped crafts only.

Displacement: 234 tons Standard, 265 tons full load
Dimensions: 47m x 7m x 3.9m
Guns: 1 x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk1, 1 x 40mm/70 Bofors, launchers for four 57mm chaff/flare illuminants on side mountings.(Range : Main 17 Km, Aux : 12Km/4Km)
Missile: 2x MM38 Exocet Single Box Launchers. (Range : 42 Km)
Electronics: Thomson CSF TH-D 1040 Triton, Decca 1226 radars, Pollux Fire control radar used with the Vega optical gun fire control system, Electronic Suite Machinery(ESM) RDL 2ABC with radar warning elements.
Propulsion: 4x MTU 870 Diesels giving 14000hp to four shafts
Speed: 36.5 knots range 3333 Km at 15 knots
Crew: 35

Handalan Class FAC-M

Handalan 3511 1978/1979
Perkasa 3512 1978/1979
Pendekar 3513 1978/1979
Gempita 3514 1978/1979

The Handalan class vessels or Spica-M FAC(M) are a heavier variant of the Swedish Spica II (Norrkoping) Class. They were built by Kalskrona Varvet and ordered by the Navy in 1976. The class replaced the Perkasa class FAC-T/M squadron with the names being transferred. Compared to the original Swedish vessel, these vessels come with new longer-range diesel engines and a different weapons fit consisting of four Exocet missiles and an additional Bofors 40mm gun. The bridge of the vessel is also brought further forward to accommodate the Exocet launchers and rear gun. The vessels are additionally equipped with a data-link communications system allowing exchange of data through computer with similarly equipped naval units and shore establishments. They also have elaborate countermeasures, weapon control system and tracking equipment. In addition, a new Thales DR3000S ESM suite has been installed. The vessels of the class are thus more well-armed, more capable and equipped with better radar than the larger sized Perdana class vessels. This makes the vessels in the Handalan squadron a force that cannot be taken lightly by the opposing navy as they are capable of bringing the offensive to the enemy during combat, even without support from the navy's larger units which is contrary to normal tactic of FAC naval doctrine.

Displacement: 240 tons standard, 268 tons full load
Dimensions: 43.6m x 7.1m x 2.4m
Guns: 1 x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk1, 1 x 40mm/70 Bofors, launchers for 57mm illuminants on side mountings. (Range : Main 17 Km, Aux : 12Km/4Km)
Missile: 2x MM38 twin launchers for four Exocet missiles.(Range 42 Km)
Electronics: Philips 9GR600, Decca 1226 radars, 9LV 212 radar used with 9LV 228 Mk2 fire control system, Optronic AA fire control system, ECM MEL Susie-1 with warning elements, Simrad SU sonar removed.
Propulsion: 3x MTU 16V 538 TB91 diesels delivering 10865hp to three shafts
Speed: 34.5knots, range 2977 Km at 14 knots
Crew: 40

Jerong Class FAC(G)

Jerong 3505 1976
Todak 3506 1976
Paus 3507 1976
Yu 3508 1976
Baung 3509 1977
Pari 3510 1977

The Jerong class is a variant of Lurssen FPB/TNC-45 vessels that was completed to a less formidable FAC-(G ) configuration, with lighter arms and a less sophisticated electronics fit. They were ordered based on three rather than four shaft propulsion arrangement that is common to the class, therefore they were built to a reduced performance specification. Ordered in 1973, the vessels were licensed-built locally by Hong-Leong Lurssen Shipyards under a major technology transfer program. Unlike the missile-armed FAC squadrons of the navy, the Jerong class is equipped only with a main gun for closed-in combat and fire support. As such, they are capable as far as gunboats go for peacetime duties of patrolling the Exclusive Economic Zone, intercepting illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries and conducting anti-piracy operations. However, they are of limited use in a shooting war except for naval bombardment or possibly for guerrilla-type tactics of naval warfare, as hull space constraints do not allow the installation of a sophisticated sensor system and extended operations in open sea conditions. In such guerrilla action, these smaller combatants would still be able to trouble the larger intruders with a 'hit-and-run' strategy by packing a mean punch that belies their small size and lack of high-technology gadgetry. In the meantime, they are expected to assume a greater share of coastal patrol duties upon the final decommissioning of the navy's patrol craft squadrons.

Displacement: 210 tons standard, 244 tons full load
Dimensions: 44.9m x 7m x 2.5m
Guns: 1 x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk1, 1 x 40mm/70 Bofors, launchers for 57mm illuminants on side mountings.(Range : Main 17 Km, Aux : 12Km/4Km)
Electronics: Decca 1226, Kelvin-Hughes MS32 radars, Naja Optronic director used with WM28 fire control radar.
Propulsion: 3 x MTU 16V 538 TB90 diesels giving 9900hp to 3 shafts
Speed: 32 knots, range 2897 Km at 16 knots
Crew: 36

Tuah Class FFT

Hang Tuah F-76 1966/1977

Yarrow's Type 41/61-based frigate was a singleton vessel originally completed in 1966 for Ghana as a presidential yacht and luxury flagship called the Black Star. She was however not delivered for political reasons and languished in the shipyard for several years before the Royal Navy finally agreed to add her to the fleet. She was then retrofitted and commissioned into the Royal Navy as the HMS Mermaid in 1973 for an Anti Submarine Warfare(ASW) role, mainly in Singapore. Her appearance was unlike any Royal Navy frigate at the time though her hull and machinery was based on the type 41/61-class frigate. Instead of a raised forecastle common on frigates of these classes, she had a flush forecastle deck and was also given an additional funnel. Another unusual feature of the Hang Tuah is in that she had an exceptionally short forecastle deck of only 21 metres, compared to other frigates of similar displacement. And as a legacy of her original mission design, she also had a less capable weaponry and electronic suite that did not enable her to act as a frontline warship in the Royal Navy fleet. After being withdrawn to fisheries protection duties in Iceland, she was offered and transferred to the Royal Malaysian Navy(RMN) at a friendship price as a replacement for the elderly Loch class frigate the navy had at the time. Emerging from a refit at Vosper Thornycroft, she sailed to Malaysia in August 1977. The vessel then became the second frigate in the Royal Malaysian Navy to bear the name of legendary Malay warrior Hang Tuah. She was at the time regarded as a major upgrade for the nation's small navy, naturally becoming the flagship for the fleet upon arrival. Refurbished, re-engined and overhauled in 1997 to give her a new lease of life, she is now used as a training vessel in addition to carrying out general patrol duties. Despite her age, Tuah can still hold her own with the rest of the RMN fleet with new weaponry like the modern 57mm gun that replaced the original twin 102mm gun.

Displacement: 2300 tons standard, 2520 tons full load
Dimensions: 103.5m x 12.2m x 4.8m
Guns: 1x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk 1, 2x 40/70 mm Bofors. (Range : Main 17 Km, Aux : 12Km/4 Km)
ASW: 1 x Mk10 Limbo Mortar (3 tubes), (Range : 900 metres)
Electronics: Plessey AWS1, 978 Radars, Type 170B and Type 174 Sonars, Matra Defense Naja Optical Director
Propulsion: 2 x Stork Wartsila 12SW28 Diesels at 19856 hp, two shafts, controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 24 knots, range 7725 Km at 14 knots
Crew: 210
Aircraft: Platform aft.

Mahamiru Class MCMV

Mahamiru 11 1983/1985
Jerai 12 1983/1985
Ledang 13 1984/1985
Kinabalu 14 1984/1985

The Royal Malaysian Navy became the second Navy to purchase Lerici class Mine Counter Measure Vessel(MCMV) when on 20 February 1981 they awarded Intermarine Spa a contract for four MCMV'S, well before the completion of the first "Lerici" built for the Italian Navy. The hulls of the four ships are made of fibre glass reinforced plastics (GRP) that are able to avoid detection by the sensitive trigger equipment of modern mines. The first of this class was launched in April 1983 but they were only delivered by the end of 1985 because technical problems delayed their arrival. Due to the specific operational and technical requirements of the Royal Malaysian Navy, their configuration are completely different from the one selected by the Italian Navy, although the hull concept is the same. However, the propulsion system is based on a concept similar to that of the Italian Navy, being implemented by two separate propulsion systems. For transit and normal navigation the ship is propelled by two diesel engines driving two controllable pitch propellers, giving the ship a speed of more than 16 knots. For precise navigation over a minefield the ship is propelled by two Riva Calzoni auxiliary thrusters, each driven by an electro - hydraulic motor, and can achieve a speed of 6 knots. Three diesel generators, all of them located above the water line to minimise the magnetic signature and the underwater-irradiated noise, generate electric power. The 500-tonne vessels, each with a crew of between 48 and 65, was bought for about RM100 million each and such vessels come in handy during wartime to ensure the nation's ports and water lanes are free of mines and other submerged hazards. For defence, the vessels have a 40mm gun that serves as the main weapon. The vessels are also equipped with a Mines Disposal Vehicle (MDV) and new Olister unmanned mine countermeasure units has been purchased to replace the old units. Usually the crew would take about 20 minutes to destroy a mine after its detection. Although the vessels primary purpose is to identify and destroy mines, they are also used for offshore patrol since their size, range and weaponry is sufficient for such duties.

Displacement : 540 tons standard, 610 tons full load
Dimensions : 51m x 9.9 m x 2.85 m
Guns : 1x 40mm/70 Bofors (Range : Main 12Km/4Km)
Electronics : Thomson Command and Control system Combat system with Thomson TSM 2060, Decca 1226 and Trident for precise navigation, Thomson Sintra TSM 2022 hull mounted sonar for mines discovery and classification, 2 ECA PAP 104 Mine Disposal Vehicles
Propulsion : 2 x MTU 12V396 TC 82 diesels, 2605hp to 2 shafts, controllable pitch propellers normal, 2 Azimuthal Thrusters giving 119 hp for mine-hunting propulsion
Speed : 16 knots, range 4630 Km at 12 Knots
Crew : 45

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Register Of RMN Active List Ships - Primary Combatants

Positioned For A Deterrent Capability

The vast South China Sea separates Malaysia's territory and it is situated in an archipelago containing the world's main sea lines of communication. The importance of these sea lines to the economic prosperity of Malaysia cannot be over emphasised. The sea is not only a source of food and mineral resources, it is also the highway over which oil and bulk commodities are transported. Since the 1980's, Malaysia has been reorienting its force structure to a posture designed to protect maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea. Although there are still several unresolved territorial disputes in the region involving Malaysia, an all-out war between the states involved is unlikely. However, the potential for low intensity conflict does exist, and in such situations, isolated skirmishes can break out in short notice as experienced in the confrontation with Indonesia. As such, the RMN must be ready to face any challenge to the nation's sovereignty at all times. In this case, the strength and determination of the forces involved will decide the outcome of the engagement.

From a modest beginning, the Royal Malaysian Navy is today at the threshold of evolving into a credible force capable of defending the country's maritime interests. In the fast changing world of naval technology and development, the RMN is heading towards a more dynamic and challenging era. Skilled manpower numbers are set to increase, new vessels and weaponry continue to be purchased and the possibility of establishing more strategically located bases throughout the country is being considered. Operating only with a WW2-era frigate as her main combatant in the first decade of independent operation, the RMN's fleet has now grown into a force with several multi-role vessels ready for three-dimensional warfare to better safeguard Malaysian waters, including two latest frigates considered to be among the most sophisticated in the world.

The acquisition of sophisticated vessels incorporating the latest technologies like stealth, with greater firepower and speed will increase the probability of victory, as the navy was not strengthened just to lose the fight. Moreover, by acquiring modern helicopters like the Super Lynx, the navy finally has long-range patrol capability as well as over the horizon targeting ability. The coming induction of modern Scorpene diesel submarines will also add a new dimension in the capabilities of the fleet. In the meantime, the RMN's present combat assets as described herein are being optimally utilised to conduct missions of maritime surveillance,patrol and constabulary. The final Order of Battle(ORBAT) of the RMN will be that of a balanced and credible force to meet the maritime strategy of presence and sea control (Sea Denial and Sea Assertion). With the development of a lean and mean fighting force, the RMN now have a deterrent capability to keep potential aggressors at home. That in itself is already a victory for a peaceful country like Malaysia.

Lekiu Class FFG
Jebat F-29 1995/1999
Lekiu F-30 1995/1999

In 1999, two Yarrow F-2000 based Lekiu class frigates ordered in 1992 was commissioned by the Royal Malaysian Navy(RMN) after a delay of more than three years due to software integration problems. Built by GEC-Yarrow, these advanced frigates are heavily armed with a Bofors 57mm Mk2 gun, SeaWolf VLS surface to air missile system, MM-40 Exocet SSMs, Whitehead ASW torpedoes and an advanced electronic warfare suite. This makes the frigates one of the most capable surface combatants in South East Asia, capable of countering multiple air, surface and sub-surface threats. The frigates are also designed with stealth elements to enable it to have a low radar cross section. Combat proven in the Falklands conflict, the Sea Wolf missile has an anti-missile capability that will provide the RMN with a much needed advanced Anti Air Warfare system in the frigates' role as front-line defence vessels. The frigates are also the navy's first vessels that embark a helicopter with a hangar facility for all-weather deployment. With high-tech surface and air-tracking radar complemented with an integrated combat data system, these vessels are lethal adversaries to the maritime threats in Malaysian waters. With such all-around capabilities, the frigates will be able to operate independently and fight their own battles, if necessary.

Displacement: 1845 tons standard, 2,270 tons full load
Dimensions: 105.5m x 12.8m x 3.6 m
Guns: 1x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk2 DP, 2x 30/75mm MSI DS 30B. (Range : Main 19 Km/11 Km, Aux : 10 Km/3.5 Km)
Missile: 2x 4 Launchers for eight MM40 Block II missiles, 16 VL SeaWolf (Upgrade Contract to Block 2 Standard 2007). (Range : SSM 75 Km, SAM 6 Km)
ASW: 2x Triple 324mm Eurotorp torpedo tubes for A244S ASW torpedoes. (Range : 7 Km)
Electronics: Nautis F combat control system, CSF ITL70, Radamec System 2400 Optronic Weapon Director, Type V 3001 thermal imager, Racal 20V90 navigation radar, 2 x 1802 SW tracker radar, Sea Giraffe 150HC search radar, Signaal DA08 air search radars, Mentor 2V1 ESM and Scimitar ECM systems, Telegon 10 communications ESM, Spherion TSM 2633 LF Variable Depth Sonar, ML Aviation Super Barricade decoy chaff launcher system, Graseby Sea Siren Torpedo Decoys, Link Y Mk2.
Propulsion: 4 x MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesels totalling 33,300hp, 2 controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 28 knots, range 9260 Km at 14 knots
Crew : 146
Aircraft: 1 Super Lynx, Hangar platform aft.

Kasturi Class FFG

Kasturi F-25 1982/1984
Lekir F-26 1982/1984

The main strength of the Royal Malaysian Navy was previously made up of two FS 1500 type ASW frigates built by Germany's Howaldstswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW). Two additional planned units (F27,F28) were however not built. With high automation levels, these are very capable vessels by SEA standards but were initially rated as corvettes although they are larger and vastly more capable than the Rahmat frigate. The frigates are armed with a Creusot Loire 100mm Compact gun to provide shore bombardment and fire power against air and surface targets. Anti air and anti surface armaments are augmented by a Bofors 57mm and twin 30mm Emerlec guns both fitted aft. For anti submarine warfare they are equipped with medium range active sonar and twin barrels 375mm Bofors Anti Submarine mortar. The vessels were initially equipped with four MM38 Exocet surface to surface missiles but have been upgraded to MM-40 missiles during a Mid Life Upgrade. The program also consisted of an upgrade of the command and control system, sonar as well as the installation of a new Thales DR3000S ESM suite. It was planned that they be given telecospic hangars for the helicopter pad but these has been indefinititely shelved. It has been reported that the navy would also like to replace the Bofors 375mm ASW launcher with a torpedo mount and to install a Close In Weapons System such as the Phalanx or Goalkeeper systems. These proposed refits will surely further enhance the frigates to become truly multi-capable fighting platforms for the navy. Displacement: 1500 standard, 1850 full load
Dimensions: 97.3m x 11.3m x 3.5m
Guns: 1 x 100mm/55 Creusot Loire Compact MK2, 1 x 57mm/70 Bofors SAK Mk 1, 2x 30mm/85 Emerson Electric Mk74 twin mountings. (Range: Main1 17.5Km/6Km, Main2 19Km/11Km, Aux : 10Km/3.5Km)
Missiles : Initial 2x Twin container launchers for four MM38 Exocets. (Range : SSM 42 Km), After Refit 2x 4 Launchers for eight MM40 Block II missiles. (Range : SSM 75 Km)
ASW: Bofors 375mm twin barrel ASW Mortar (6 tubes), (Range : 3625 metres)
Electronics: Daisy Sewaco-MA Combat Data System with Signaal DA.08, Decca TM1226C radar, one radar used with the WM-22 gun fire control system, two Signaal LIOD Optronic gun directors, Atlas Elektronics ASO 84-5 (DSQS-21C) sonar, ESM with RAPIDS warning and Scimitar jamming elements, Link Y Mk2 , 2 CSEE dagaie trainable decoy systems, IFF Mk10.
Propulsion: 4x MTU 20V 1163 TB92 diesels totalling 23400hp to two shafts.
Speed: 28knots, range 9260Km at 14 knots
Crew: 124
Aircraft: 1 Super Lynx, Platform Aft

Kedah Class FFL/NGPV

KD Kedah 171 2001/2006
KD Pahang 172 2001/ 2006
KD Perak 173 2007/2009
KD Terengganu 174 2007/2009
KD Kelantan 175 2008/2010
PV Selangor 176 2009/????

After financial misadventures that threatened the whole project and delayed the delivery of the first two vessels, these patrol vessels have finally been commissioned into the fleet. These vessels are part of the RMN's project that calls for the construction of 27 patrol vessels to be built over a 15-year period. An agreement was signed in February 1998 for the first six OPVs after intense competition when the German Naval Group (GNG) made up of Blohm & Voss, Thyssen, Ferostall and HDW was selected to supply the vessels. The GNG in partnership with a Malaysian company, the Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd constructed the first 2 ships in Germany while the modules for the other 4 units are assembled locally. The design chosen is based on the Meko A-100 design that incorporates a modular design concept to provide versatility. The design also incorporates stealth characteristics and hot spots reduction technology. This involves shaping the superstructure to create angled surfaces that will emit low radar signatures to reduce the size of the cross section dramatically. For protection against infra-red imaging, a proven cooling system for the vessel exhaust will have water fog sprays to reduce heat. Other characteristics incorporated into the OPV are low noise and economic cruising speed. The vessels will also have an Unmanned Management System for controls in their engineering areas thus reducing crew requirements. The peacetime duties of the New Generation Patrol Vessel will include the patrolling of Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and participating in disaster relief operations. In times of war, the NGPVs are to be equipped to carry out a number of operations, including ASW and AsuW, which can be easily undertaken through quick exchange of machinery, weapon and electronic systems modules under the Fitted For But Not With concept. These vessels are therefore designed to be self-defence platforms where they can operate alone or in conjunction with other surface, sub-surface and air units in peacetime and during conflicts.

Displacement: 1500 tons standard, 1,650 tons full load
Dimensions: 91.10m x 12.85m x 3.4 m
Guns : 1 x OTOBreda 76/62 Super Rapid gun , 1 x OtoBreda FSAF/Mauser 30mm MN 30 GS (Range : Main 16 Km/12 Km, Aux : 4Km/2.5 Km)
Missile: fitted for 2 x 2 Launchers for four MM40 Block II missiles, RIM-116 RAM
Electronics : COSYS 110 M1 Combat Management Systems with Oerlikon Contraves TMX and TMEO optronic fire control, Atlas 9600M navigation radar, EADS TRS-3D/16ES air search, Thales Type 242 ESM? Thales Scorpion ECM? STN Atlas ELAC Nautic NDS3060 Sonars, Sippicon ALEX decoy control and launching system.
Propulsion: 2 Caterpillar 3616 DITA diesels at 14617hp, 2 shafts Kamewa controllable pitch propellers
Speed : 27 knots, range 11,205 Km at 12 knots
Crew: 78 +15
Aircraft : 1 SN355 Fennec, hangar platform aft.

Laksamana Class FSG

Laksamana Hang Nadim F134 1987/97
Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil F135 1987/97
Laksamana Muhammad Amin F136 1987/99
Laksamana Tan Pusmah F137 1987/99

In July 1997, 2 Laksamana class corvettes the RMN ordered from Fincantieri were commissioned at the Muggiano shipyard in Italy. Variants of the Assad class built for Libya, these four ships were originally built for the Iraqi Navy as the Al Walid class but the supply of the missile corvettes was stopped by United Nations sanctions. Before delivery some specific aspects of the ships' design were modified when the ships were refitted to meet the requirements of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A second batch of two Laksamana class corvettes was later ordered and delivered in 1999. Unlike the first two corvettes, The second batch was delivered with a more modern combat command system, including the Link Y Mk2 that enables real time exchange of data with other Royal Malaysian Navy surface assets and shore bases. However, the earlier units has beeen similarly upgraded. By the standards of South East Asian navies, these are very dangerous corvettes, with their offensive capabilities balanced by the Aspide SAMs. With newly acquired mid-flight helicopter targeting (tele-guidance) capability, the corvettes' Otomat Surface to Surface Missile(SSM) accuracy will be devastating thus making them more dangerous than a comparable sized warship. Together with their ASW capability, these corvettes are potent additions to the RMN fleet.

Displacement: 650 tons standard, 705 tons full load
Dimensions: 62.3m x 9.3m x 2.5m
Guns: 1 x 76mm/62 OTO Melara Super Rapid, 1 x Twin Breda 40mm/70. (Range : Main 16 Km/12 Km, Aux : 13 Km/9 Km)
Missile: Launchers for 6x Otomat Teseo Mk2, 1 x Albatross Quad launcher for 12 Aspide SAM. (Range : SSM 40 Km, 100-180 Km tele-guided, SAM 14 Km)
ASW: 2x triple ILAS3 324mm torpedo tubes for A244S ASW torpedoes. (Range : 7 Km)
Electronics: IPN-S Combat Command System, including Selenia RAN12L/X, Kelvin Hughes 1007, 2x RTN 10X fire control radars used with Mk10 Argo fire control system, ASO 94-41 sonar, INS-3B and RON-5 ESM and TQN-2BB ECM, Link Y Mk2. Breda 105 mm 6-tube Decoy launcher
Propulsion: 4x MTU 20V 956 TB92 diesels giving 20,120hp to four shafts
Speed: 36knots, range 6436 Km at 18 knots
Crew: 56

Sunday, 7 September 2008

4D Ketupat In Ramadhan

I thought I would like to end this week's blogging by mentioning something odd that I noticed while reading a Malay newspaper during breaking fast just now. It was in the sports pages that I noticed that buried there were numerous advertisements for phone linked 4D results including for winning numbers forecast. Some ads even had the cheek to decorate their advertisement with ketupat graphics in this first week of Ramadhan. Well all this confirmed that these advertisements were purposely targetted to a Malay, in this case, supposedly Moslem audience inviting them to continue their gambling vices in this month of greatest piety and holiness. I have no idea if this a daily insertation or only on Sundays but this practise should stop. I don't need to blame our religious authorities for overlooking this greatest of insults to our Moslem practise, but to any Malay newspaper that accepts such advertisments for commercial gains. You know who you are! Whatever it is, this situation should not be prolonged and tolerated further!

Your Beloved IMF Says OK What!

To those who has fallen for your beloved leader's empty promises that subsidies are the medical cure for all our economic ills, please take note that the IMF whose prescriptions he takes as Gospel agree that the poor would be better off if the billions spent on fuel subsidies went towards other schemes, such as direct cash transfers to the least well-off. So how you can say our current fuel subsidy policies are wrong eh? If you do not believe me, read on okay.

Blowing Up The Energy Bubble
Poor-country energy subsidies have inflated
oil prices. Bringing them back to earth won't be easy.

Barrett Sheridan
Updated: 1:13 PM ET Aug 23, 2008

A Disneyland theme park and a Shanghai gas station don't normally have much in common, but lately they've shared one important trait: endless lines. During evening rush hour in the Chinese metropolis, long queues of mopeds back up outside the city's main downtown stations, where riders wait up to half an hour to top off. They have no choice: at least 35 stations closed down earlier this year, the victims of government- imposed price controls, which force the stations to sell gas below cost.

National subsidies for petroleum consumption, which keep prices for motorists and other oil users at artificially low levels, are one of a long list of factors—including speculators and terrorist acts—accused of sending oil prices skyward. But recently, energy subsidizers, including many of Asia's largest nations, have come under the most fire. In July, President George W. Bush sounded off against subsidizers, blaming them for keeping demand high, which "may not be causing the market to adjust as rapidly as we'd like."

While it's convenient for the leader of the world's largest oil-consuming nation to direct attention elsewhere, there's some truth to the rhetoric. Before June 19, Chinese consumers were paying half the global market price for oil. When the government made a surprise announcement that day to raise prices by nearly 20 percent, the price per barrel of Texas light sweet crude fell by nearly $5. Now politicians around the world are calling for more of the same, hoping for a quick cure to the plague of costly oil. What's unclear is exactly how much an end to global energy subsidies would reduce the price of oil, and how quickly.

Consumers in dozens of countries, from Egypt to Indonesia to India, now pay well below cost to fill up or switch on the lights. In China, even after the June increase, motorists pay about $2.80 per gallon, versus $3.75 in the United States and $8 in France. In oil-exporting nations, the situation is downright ludicrous: Saudi drivers pay an incredible 45 cents a gallon. But autocracies aren't the only offenders. Even democratic India holds the price of oil to about $80 a barrel.

Pressure from economists and politicians has resulted in some cuts. China's June price hike made it the fifth country to make such a move in recent months. Indonesia, Taiwan, India and Malaysia have also raised retail prices between 10 and 50 percent since late May. And analysts expect more such hikes, in part because the fiscal burden has become too much for most countries to bear. Subsidies are now costing many governments, including India, China and Malaysia, 2 percent or more of GDP. The burden is worse in smaller countries, like Turkmenistan, which pays a whopping 15 percent of GDP to subsidize fuel, according to the IMF.

If oil subsidies were to disappear overnight, that could shave $10 to $40 off the price of oil, says Jim Burkhard of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, who warns that such figures are essentially educated guesses. But no one is expecting that dramatic a shift any time soon. Most subsidizing nations are still poor countries, and many are dictatorships; capping the price of gas is seen as a way to help the poor and preserve social stability, even though many of those who benefit are among the middle and upper classes. "People living in nice apartments with air conditioning in Beijing absolutely should pay more for their energy," says Philip Andrews-Speed, a professor and energy expert at the University of Dundee. The IMF and others agree that the poor would be better off if the billions spent on fuel subsidies went toward other schemes, such as direct cash transfers to the least well-off.

That said, the global inflation epidemic is making it hard to sell anyone—rich or poor—on price hikes. According to one Morgan Stanley analysis, if India were to raise oil prices to global levels instantly, it would add nearly 4 percentage points to the inflation rate of 11 percent. Yet only the largest countries, namely India and China, have the bulk to really affect the global market. And China, with its $1.5 trillion in foreign-currency reserves, is the best situated to continue subsidizing fuel indefinitely. "China has a bottomless pit of money it can hand out," says Andrews-Speed.

Then there's the question of just how much subsidies can really counteract a fundamental shift in global energy demand. In some cases, raising fuel prices might even have the short-term perverse effect of increasing consumption, as profit-hungry producers race to catch up with pent-up demand. In China, for example, when authorities raise prices, local producers and refiners (which can finally earn a fair price) quickly put more oil on the market. That in turn was snapped up by those lines of thirsty mopeds, boosting consumption. "This is a standard rationing situation," says Peter Buchanan, a senior economist at CIBC World Markets. "People say, 'If you raise prices, that's going to reduce demand.' In fact, in China it appears to be working the other way." Indeed, investors and traders already know this. Although international crude prices fell on the news that China was cutting its subsidies on June 19, they were back up the next day as investors realized that Chinese demand might indeed grow faster after the price hike.

While this dynamic will eventually stop once supply and demand are rebalanced, in the long run what really matters is that big emerging markets are still growing—and fast. In China and India, economies are reaching "the point at which people adopt a more energy-intensive lifestyle," says Buchanan. China alone is expected to increase the number of cars on its roads twentyfold by 2030, according to a study released last year by New York University. And those numbers were crunched before the Indian company Tata introduced its groundbreaking $2,500 car. As a Morgan Stanley research note argues, the "demand destruction impact" of further fuel price increases in China, if made gradually, is likely to be "rather small." The same could be said for India and the rest.

In the end, fingers should perhaps be pointed at the biggest rich-country consumers—namely, Americans. A number of economists put the recent fall in the price of oil, which is now hovering at about $120 a barrel, down to the fact that $4-a-gallon gas finally has Americans driving less. "I think a lot of this is about the U.S. economy and U.S. consumption," says Zhou Dadi, deputy director of the China Energy Research Council in Beijing, arguing that data showing weaker oil consumption in the United States has been motivating the sell-off. "[U.S. demand] is a bigger factor than the Chinese impact." President Bush might not like the economic significance of Shanghai's moped queues, but if he really wants to see lower fuel prices, he'd do better to look at Los Angeles's freeways.


Saturday, 6 September 2008

Only Useful When There Is An Emergency Eh?

KD Lekiu
Well after two of our national shipping company MISC's vessels have been hijacked by Somalian Pirates in the Gulf of Aden, we are now looking with interest at the dispatch of three naval vessels sailing with members of our special forces from all three armed branches to the area. Even though our armed forces have had numerous out of area experiences far away from home, this time should be the first time we are going with a presumably aggressive mandate as previously we usually go as part of the peacekeeping forces in the area of operations but this time these units are being sent officially to monitor and safeguard our shipping vessels in the area from further pirate attacks, although this action did not save our second vessel from being hijacked ten days later. Please take note of this fact, as this amply demonstrate the need of speed for military operations, subsequently reflecting of the need for availability in the first place. Unfortunately the military only works in the background during times of peace and only comes to the fore during times of emergency, and as such there have been calls for their abolishment or reduction in their upkeeping expenses as they are deemed as a waste to the national expenditure with the given excuse that we have no 'enemy' to defend against. Therefore to maintain a standing security force is deemed as suffering from an unjustified national paranoia against bogeymen. Unfortunately as someone with a knowledge of the military would know, the enemy comes in many forms and they can appear anytime and from anywhere, and this time this fact has bitten us in the arse at a time when we are ourselves in a state of flux nationally.

KD Inderapura

So what price should we put to the lives of 65 Malaysian crewman held by the pirates, not counting the other nationalities working on board. Anyway there are voices who say that since MISC is owned by our national oil company and the seamen are insured for such an hostage-taking situation, we should pay off the criminals in order to resolve the crisis peacefully. Yet what would then happen after this? By paying a ransom, wouldn't this put a red flag on our vessels plying these waters in the future as attractive targets since we had submitted before to such ransom demands, and to divert these vessels to a different longer route around the Horn of Africa in their commercial sailings would make no economic sense. Is it not the first rule of handling a hostage taking or kidnapping situation not to give in to any ransom demands as this would encourage more such incidents. Anyway history there has shown that these Somalian pirates has graduated from hijacking fishing vessels to larger vessels just because of such ransom payments had been made, emboldened by cash payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is an enormous take in a country teetering on the edge of famine. So should we then consider establishing a regular naval presence there, when far larger navies fear to tread, spending millions in order to safeguard the commercial interests of a few national shipping companies while other countries that may also benefit from such an act cannot or will not contribute to a coalition to patrol such dangerous waters, although they do contribute to Combined Task Force 150 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. Although ships from the task force has periodically been peeled out to battle the pirates, such an approach even using sophisticated warships illustrates the problem that such an operation entails, the real trick of spotting the pirates before they strike as the buccaneers hide themselves in the waters crowded with fishing boats and cargo dhows that provide easy cover. And once they strike and manage to make it back into Somali waters, they are generally scot free unless the nations of the military units have the means and stomach to pursue the bandits into their wild and lawless country where some have already gotten a bloody nose. This despite the creation of a UN-mandated Maritime Security Patrol Area(MSPA) that gives the task force the authority to pursue the pirates into Somali waters. Only the French have successfully carried out such an operation to free their nationals' yatch hijacked by the Somalian pirates, while others are almost never targeted despite their locations are generally known.

KD Mahawangsa

Thus are we able to answer the simple question "We know where they are, why don't we go get them?" The problem is that you need to have the law, firepower and willingness to risk collateral damage in order to do this. The legal niceties we may get as we are in contact with the recognised Somalian government to conduct a rescue mission, and if necessary we can go in under the auspices of the MSPA. Furthermore the willingness of Malaysians to risk collateral damage may strenghtened after more time has passed especially if another of our vessel is hijacked, but the firepower we have may be found lacking. We have sent one of our most modern frigate KD Lekiu into the area but since she is escorting the LST KD Sri Inderapura, the speed of our response has been delayed as KD Lekiu cannot travel at her top speed of 30+ knots, but to sail at the LST's speed of 20 knots. Thus they have only reached the Maldives to date, while the third ship to sail to follow the earlier vessels is reliably learnt to be the KD Mahawangsa, another logistics ship that sails at a slower still of 16 knots instead of the OPV KD Pahang as earlier announced. Presumably they will carry enough helicopters to fill their four helicopter spots, and these could be a mix of Super Lynxes, Nuris and Army LOHs that have been used in such rescue mission exercises before. The sending of logistic ships instead of combatants seems to indicate that rather than conducting escort missions during their presence as announced, an amphibious operation is in the works in order to operate in a hostile land. Well Godspeed in your endeavours and may all safely return home in time for the Eid-ul-Fitri. Nonetheless this operation would surely highlight our assets shortcomings as these vessels seems to be the few units that we can spare from our in-area operations, and if it fails I can guarantee there will be hysterics asking why are we not well-equipped for such an operation, and I bet a few will be those voices will be those who has said before that such readiness are a national waste. So will this then confirm that our military assets are only useful when there is an emergency. Or shall we learn that a standing armed forces is the only way we can secure our security, here or elsewhere.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A Story To Remind Us Of Who We Are

Sometimes it is good just to be reminded of who Malaysians really are and whether we really need to be classified as Malaysians to be one.

Saturday August 30, 2008

A tribute

Sambal on the Side

Departing from her usual “no place like home” theme for Merdeka, our columnist dedicates this week’s column to a stranger who truly embodies the spirit of being Malaysian.

Perhaps my editor would have preferred if I had written an ode-to-the-nation piece to commemorate Malaysia’s 51st year of Independence tomorrow.

But seriously, this year, I’m done with the ra-ra. A quick survey of the mainstream media headlines is enough to make one reconsider a “no place like home” theme.

Instead, I would like to celebrate Malaysians who truly embody the spirit of being Malaysian. After all, what is a country without her people?

One unforgettable encounter I had was with a lady who worked at the Malaysian High Commission (HC) in London. Her kindness towards me will probably remain vivid in my memory for a long time to come.

It all started shortly before we were posted to Vietnam. I desperately needed to renew my international passport to avoid any hassle with my Vietnamese visa application. Time was running short and I tried reasoning with a consular division staff at the Malaysian embassy in Berlin if the normal renewal period of eight weeks could be reduced. She was unhelpful and unable to advise me on any alternatives.

This struck me as odd, as a couple of days later, I chanced upon a Star Online report stating that the London HC offers a special deal to residents of other European states to have their passports done in a day. Upon hearing this, I hightailed it to London.

Unfortunately, for some reason, as soon as I landed in London early next morning, I became very ill. Nevertheless, I made my woozy way to the HC in Belgrave Square. I was determined to be there as early as possible to qualify for the day’s quota. Thankfully I was one of the first and was able to hand in my application on time.

The person handling my application was the Good Samaritan of this story. I mentioned to her that I would be leaving London the next morning as I had a one night only reservation at a hotel close by. Aware that I resided in Germany, she assured me that my new passport would be ready that afternoon and suggested that I check in at the hotel.

By then, I had already been sick a couple of times and figured a lie-in might do me some good. However, I didn’t feel any better as I made my way back to the HC that afternoon.

As luck would have it, there was some complication with my new passport’s microchip and the wait took longer than expected. In fact, I was to wait until close to 6pm before I got my new passport.

Meanwhile, I had run several times to the ladies’ which the Good Samaritan had noticed. She asked if she could offer me any medication but nothing seemed to work. The mysterious stomach bug seemed set to stay.

So she kept me company because by then, I was the only applicant left at the waiting room. In true Malaysian fashion, we started talking and were soon exchanging snippets of personal information — with my occasional interruptions to rush to the loo!

Eventually my passport was ready and the staff started closing up for the day. The Good Samaritan asked where I was headed and offered to walk me to the bus stop. By then I was pretty weak and could not even keep water down. Upon seeing this, she insisted on taking me to my hotel.

As riding the bus was not an option — I started heaving the minute I boarded — she suggested that we walk to the hotel via St James Park. She surmised the air might do me some good. Now I feel it is pertinent to repeat that she was an absolute stranger — up until that morning back in September 2006, each of us never even knew the other existed!

Yet, she went out of her way to help me. But I think it was her reasoning that struck me: “Brenda, how can I sleep at night knowing that a Malaysian is all alone in London and ill, and that I just let her go off by herself?”

Sure, some doubting Thomases might say, “That’s her job what! She works at the HC!” Even so, I do not think the job description entails accompanying sick Malaysians to their hotel rooms. It would have been limited to just giving them the number of the nearest clinic.

It was a long, slow walk through the park, punctuated often by me retching by some tree and her rubbing my back and offering me mineral water. This was not a Muslim helping a Catholic; a Malay accompanying an Indian. We were just two Malaysians — one in need, and one doing a good deed. A perfect Petronas Merdeka ad — the only thing was neither of us was acting.

Eventually, we reached my hotel and once she was convinced that I would be all right, she left. The next morning I flew out of London with my new passport and a renewed belief in the innate goodness of Malaysians.

Sadly, we have lost touch. I do not even know if she is still attached to the London HC. I have chosen not to name her because I want to respect her privacy. Besides, with the current tell-all trend we’re constantly subjected to, I’d rather maintain an element of mystery. Genuine do-gooders generally shun publicity anyway.

And on that vein, I would like to wish all Malaysians everywhere who quietly give, help, serve or care, a Selamat Hari Merdeka. Your random acts of kindness give the rest of us a good name.

Brenda Benedict is a Malaysian, who is currently ‘between countries’. Her Sambal on the Side column will take a short break as she moves back to Germany. She will spend Merdeka with her Malaysian friends who have volunteered to help her unpack.