United we stand: 148 military vets associations to form umbrella body for benefits

Danial Dzulkifly
Suara Veteran legal officer Lt Col (Rtd) Jalil Ithnin said a unified coalition would allow veterans to have a stronger voice in fighting for their rights. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Malaysia’s 148 separate armed forces groups will be forming a grand coalition to champion better pension schemes and benefits for members running into the thousands.

The umbrella body is tentatively called the Veteran Associations Coalition, the groups announced today.

Leading the charge for the formation of unified front is Suara Veteran, which had previously called on the government to review the pensions schemes and benefits for armed forces veterans.

“This is a continuity of our efforts previously as Suara Veteran that wish to unite sporadic voices of veterans who are deeply concerned about their welfare.

“This would present a united voice to raise veterans’ affairs to the higher-ups,” said Suara Veteran legal officer Lt-Col (Rtd) Jalil Ithnin, referring to the government.

He said the establishment of a unified umbrella body will ensure a stronger voice for the veteran servicemen numbering some 305,000 people.

Another Suara Veteran legal officer Major (Rtd) Meor Rosli said a coalition provides a bigger platform for the armed forces members and pensioners to voice their opinions on a number of issues stymied over the years.

“The armed forces have been deprived of many things since 1963.

“Under the Federal Constitution, the armed forces have a certain status but when we compare to its status today, much of it has been eroded,’’ he said.

Meor was referring to studies by Suara Veteran conducted from 2014 to 2019 that listed weaknesses within the legal framework of the armed forces welfare schemes, among others.

As an example, Meor said the pension schemes under the Regular Forces (Pension, Gratuities and Other Benefits) Regulations 1982 do not reflect the current economic situation, unlike those of civil servants who fall under the Pensions Act 1980, which have been adjusted.

Other issues include welfare benefits for disabled veterans as well as those who have been court-martialed and subsequently lost their pension.

Meor said that after forming the coalition, the veterans will lobby for a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the weaknesses within the veteran’s welfare framework and their related rights as prescribed under the law.

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