To stop Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin from being the Chief of Armed Forces

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We would like to refer to the article published in the New Straits Times on Saturday 2 June 2018 titled “Former Army Chief to be Head of Armed Forces” by Adrian David. The article reported that the Armed Forces Council, which sat on Thursday 31 May 2018, had approved of  former army chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin’s appointment as the 20th Armed Forces Chief, effective 20 June 2018.
 
Firstly, we are surprised that journalist Adrian David was able to secure this news when decisions of the Armed Forces Council is considered classified until it is announced officially by Mindef. Mindef should investigate who leaked the information to the journalist as this is a gross misconduct on the personnel at Mindef who did this. The manner in which Zulkifli Zainal Abidin’s appointment has been pushed through in such a quick manner at the Armed Forces Council’s meeting smells of a plot to secure the post for him at all cost, even though he should be retiring this year.
 
Secondly, Zulkifli was relieved of his command when he was the chief of army because he has failed during the Lahad Datu incident. He was then sent to Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) as its Vice-Chancellor (VC). He was serving at UPNM for five years and is out of touch with the latest development at the armed forces. As such, he is not the best person to helm the armed forces when there are many others who are in the know and could do the job better.
 
At UPNM, he is not without any baggage. As reported by the Centre For Malaysian Political And Economic Transcendence (Competent) on 20 May 2018, that UPNM’s Kongkoi Camp project, which was built in 2014 under his watch and at a cost of RM2.29 million, is not carried out according to proper procedures. It is also alleged that contract lecturers are overpaid to the extent that the budget for their salary is now twice that for permanent staff members. We received information that these are cronies of his whom he brought in without academic experience, yet given pay equivalent to that of associate professors or professors, which under normal circumstances would have taken years to achieve such status.
 
Competent also reported on 26 May 2018 that he gave himself the title of Profesor Ikhtisas or Professional Professor just before he retired to facilitate his coming back to UPNM on contract.
 
During his tenure at UPNM, two cadets died. The first death was at Kongkoi Camp. The camp did not have Certificate of Fitness, and it’s purchase was still under investigation by the Public Accounts Committee. The cadet was believed to have died due to faulty equipment purchased under questionable procedure. This was covered up, but it is believed that the cadet’s parent is suing the university. The second death was a bullying case where the dead cadet was missing from the campus for a week yet the university authority claimed ignorance. He denied any responsibility and put the blame squarely on Mindef. His argument was, as the VC he was only responsible for academic aspect. This statement came out in the newspaper. 
 
To our knowledge, he condoned academic dishonesty and even covered them up to protect his cronies. A case pending involved a Dean (a former UMNO MP whom he is very close to) trying to pass a student who plagiarized still has not been investigated due to the dean’s UMNO connection. A police report was made on this case and the Board of Directors of UPNM was alerted, but no action has been taken. He also allowed a former UMNO deputy defence minister to obtain his Masters degree through a questionable process. He registered for the course and about a year later he appeared for his viva and passed. He has never attended any of the students’ coloquuim or research method course which is compulsory. His external examiner was someone who has been accused of publishing a paper with fake data.
 
Besides the ex UMNO MP Dean, he sought his protection from former UPNM Board of Directors’  chairman who is also an UMNO Senator and Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera chairman.
 
Zulkifli Zainal Abidin also covered up cases of sexual harassment by a military officer who happened to be his close crony, on a female civilian lecturer. The female lecturer was forced to withdraw her police reports on the military officer by Zulkifli Zainal Abidin. Due to her refusal she was put in cold storage and removed from her faculty. A police report was also made against him as the VC.
 
There are many more cases of abuse of power and mismanagement by Zulkifli Zainal Abidin. He is definitely the wrong choice for the Armed Forces Chief post. He could not even run UPNM well, let alone the military. Morale was low at Mindef when rumours were circulated that he is coming back as their chief. He is a vindictive character and unscrupulous in his pursuance of getting his goals. He would use people and would dump them once his objective is achieved. The case in point is his ex-instructor who helped to put him up as a three star VC from a two star. He created an image of himself as a pious man. He also tend to go overboard when pushing his religious agenda; both at Mindef as chief of army and UPNM as VC.
 
Apart from the above, the main potential danger of Zulkifli Zainal Abidin is that he may appear “clean” compared to other generals because he was out of the system, but we believe he would have been worse than them if he was in the system.
 
Image-wise, he is too fat to be a general and makes a very poor role model for the soldiers. He could well be the fattest Armed Forces Chief in the region – an embarrassing image of Malaysia.
 
If the Armed Forces is to be cleaned up by the new government, we need to purge all the contaminated generals and start all over again. The best option is to promote a new batch of generals. Let them turn over a new leaf. We need a total clean up. A clean up is not a clean up if we allow even a drop of contamination behind.
 
Lastly, we would urge Prime Minister Mahathir and the Minister of Defence Mat Sabu, to be careful of those who lobby for their positions. You need to double check, if not triple check your facts before trusting any of them. Please choose your officials carefully as the rakyat is not going to be forgiving if you make any mistake as all of us are truly fed up with all the wrongdoings that we suffered during the previous regime. We hope you will not make the mistake with such an important post as the Chief of Armed Forces.
 



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