Akta Veteran 2011 - Committee Discussion

In addition to the discussion on the "Budget 2012", the Executive Committee of RAFOC did discuss the "Akta Veteran" on Thursday, 13th October 2011, which was then under the second reading by the House of Representatives. The discussion was chaired by Jen Tan Sri Dato' Mohd Ghazali bin Dato' Mohd Seth, (Bersara), RAFOC President. 10 Committee Members were present.

The Executive Committee welcomed the "Akta Veteran" since it was felt that it would give due recognition to the veterans and would give the authorities the power to act and provisions to be legally made for the well being of the veterans and the veterans' associations. However the Committee felt that there were a few clauses in the Akta that needed further clarifications if not amendments.

The Committee was made to understand that the draft Akta was distributed to some veterans' associations before its presentation to Parliament but was not widely distributed to the veterans as such. The Committee noted that there were a number of subsequent briefings held by the relevant authorities but these briefings were held after the proposed Akta was tabled for the first reading in Parliament.

The Committee noted that the title of the act was "Akta Veteran 2011". It did not explicitly implied that it was the "Akta Veteran Angkatan Tentera" per se. Internationally, the word "veterans" was meant to be the "war veterans". However, in our country, the older generations of other professions also consider themselves and being referred to as "veterans" too. Hence there was a need that the act should explicitly be labelled as "Akta Veteran Angkatan Tentera 2011". It was however noted that the term "veteran" was defined in the definition of the Akta.

The Committee was concerned on the use of the word "veterans" and felt that due respect must be given in the use of the word "veterans". "Veterans" should be associated with those who have spent some good years in the Armed Forces and have seen or gone through various battles or operations against the enemy. But in the context of the Akta, "veterans" were referred to as those who once spend a time, regardless of the duration and exposure of their service, in the Armed Forces. The term "former officers" or "ex-servicemen" were more appropriate to be used for them.

The Committee noted that a veterans' association was defined as an association/club/organization with at least 51% of its members who were former members of the Armed Forces. The Committee questioned why it should be 51% and who would be the other 49%. The Committee felt that members of a veteran's association must be 100% former members of the Armed Forces or "veterans". Civilians and others who served or were associated with the Armed Forces could be co-opted as associate or honorary members of such associations but they should not be considered as (ordinary) members of any veterans' association with the powers and privileges of ordinary members who were former members of the Armed Forces.

With reference to para 17, the Committee welcomed the provision for the placement of the veterans' associations under the jurisdiction of Veterans' Affairs Department, Ministry of Defence and no longer with the Registrar of Societies Malaysia. The Committee felt that this was not a deprivation of the right of association under the Federal Constitution, but rather an administrative matter for the good of these associations. However, the Committee noted that there was no clause in the Akta that specifically dealt with the benefits to be gained by these associations as a result of their migration from the Registrar of Societies Malaysia to the Veterans' Affairs Department, Ministry of Defence.

In conclusion, the Executive Committee was supportive of the passing of the Act which would be to the benefit of the veterans and the veterans' associations. However the Committee would like to see the Akta be further administratively discussed by the Veterans' Affairs Department, Ministry of Defence with representatives of the various veterans' associations/clubs/organizatins and certain clarifications and amendments be made before the Act is implemented as such.

The Committee will seek clarification on the above issues with the Veterans' Affairs Department, Ministry of Defence. In the meantime, if you do have other observations within the confine of the "Akta Veteran 2011" as presented to Parliament, please submit your observations to our RAFOC Secretariat. The "Akta Veteran 2011" as is, will also be tabled and discussed at our "2nd Forum" to be held on Saturday, 12th November 2011 at the Auditorium, Hospital Angkatan Tentera Tuanku Mizan, Kuala Lumpur. Copy of the "Rang Undang-Undang Veteran 2011" can be downloaded from the internet.

This subject is under the portfolio of our "RAFOC Sub-Committee on Service Matters & Related Issues", with Mej Jen Dato' Ahmad bin Ibrahim, (Bersara) as Chairman.