GEORGE TOWN: A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is calling for a cut on defence and security spending to below one per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Comprising 15 NGOs, including Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Communication Community Centre (Komas) and Lawyer for Liberty (LFL), the group also questioned the need for an increase in defence expenditures despite Malaysia not having any enemies, except for pirates in the Malacca Straits and South China Sea.
In conjunction with the second Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS 2.0) yesterday, the coalition handed a four-point memorandum, which included the one per cent of GDP cap on defence spending, to an official at the Prime Minister's office here.
Suaram director Kua Kia Soong said the RM23 billion allocation on defence and security under the 10th Malaysia Plan was too high.
"The money could be spent on education, public health, food, low-cost housing for low-income citizens and other basic necessities. Our citizens deserve a better quality of life compared to the status quo, which is committed to an irrational arms race among Asean countries," he said, adding Malaysia was second highest after Singapore in defence spending.
"A carte blanche is given to the ministry for arms purchase while food production, health, education and other social services are still deplorable," Kua said, adding the Education Ministry had revealed 600 schools were in critical condition while the food import bill in 2008 was RM27 billion.
He said the coalition also demanded Members of Parliaments and candidates for the next general election from both sides of the political divide review the defence policy to promote a culture of peace and disarmament.