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Model Of Malaysias Total Defence Concept Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 5428 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.1 Introduction

In the international realm, the theory of Total Defence Concept had been discussed and practised by the Western countries since the post World War II era. Due to the war consequences, the European countries especially hold that in order to restrain the enemy with limited budgets, it requires both a small professional military and a force that can expand the small army rapidly upon mobilization. To make this concept successful, a well-organized reserve and guard system is essential. The reserve and guard system is an integral part of the “total or territorial defence” which is a Scandinavian Model, sometimes called the Finnish-Swedish Way. The concept is to have the whole country involved in its defence, not just the military. In Total Defence, business, industry, local government and others are all involved in integral plans on how to defend the country. Local armed and non-violent actions are employed to help the security of the country. It is not just a military issue, but also a national issue. [1] 

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With regard to the Nordic states’ idea of civil defence, it is related to the concept of ‘total’ defence used by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden that emerged before the end of the Cold War. In the tradition of Total Defence, civil defence as a concept encompassed all activities needed to safeguard the population that were not of a military character. [2] 

If we refer specifically to the Swedish Total Defence Concept, it includes military defence and civil defence. It primarily relates to wartime, with the idea that modern warfare is total, which requires a Total Defence. The civil defence part of the Total Defence includes all non-military functions in society that are needed in warfare. However, civil defence also relates to peacetime when it includes activities that enhance the ability to resist an armed attack. In peacetime, the concept of Protection and Preparedness against Major Emergencies during Peacetime is important for the work to avoid, and prepare for, major emergencies in peacetime. [3] 

Apart, the Swiss use a modified version of this concept which is referred to a well-developed Total Defence system, standby reserves of the military allow both active and reserve units to have the ability to grow when necessary in a rapid and organized fashion. For example, platoons become companies and companies become battalions and others. This can be done by a conscript system that trains most of the adult male population to be ready to serve when needed. The conscript system of most countries, using the Total Defence concept, has the troops on active duty for approximately one year. At the end of that time a few of the conscripts volunteer to stay on active duty or to join the home guard. But the majority become members of the reserves with some becoming part of organized units and others just ready for call up upon mobilization. [4] 

In the case of Norway, organizationally Norwegian security preparedness had established since the end of the World War II and been built on a horizontal action plan where decisions are to be taken at low-levels in both civilian and military administration. This concept is based on the notion of ‘preparedness where the accident happens’ and means that action shall be initiated as close to the event as possible and without awaiting orders from higher levels of authority. This concept also lies at the heart of the Norwegian Total Defence Concept. It ensures a high level of involvement for the civilian sphere in its national security organization. At the same time, it is no secret that a certain awareness of the country’s limited military resources has resulted in the idea of incorporating military defence in this framework of a Total Defence. Civil and military administrations are expected to cooperate within their own areas of responsibility in the event of an incident. While it is the sitting government that is at any given time in charge of Total Defence, each department has the same responsibility during wartime as it has during peacetime. This is a main principle of the Total Defence Concept. [5] 

In addition, another model does exist from the total concept and this is the model of “collective defence” which has been the main concept of NATO. Collective defence is normally institutionalised by a treaty and an organization among participant countries that commit support in defence of a member country if it is attacked by another country outside the organization. Before the end of the Cold War, Sweden and Finland mainly employed territory defence, while the other Nordic countries as members of NATO, employed a combination of territory and collective defence. [6] 

Regionally, the ASEAN best model of Total Defence Concept can be attributed to Singapore model. This concept was introduced in 1984 that was adapted from experiences of countries like Switzerland and Sweden. As a young nation with a small population and conscript armed forces, Singapore needed to draw on the different strengths and abilities of its community to augment the defence capability. Conflicts between countries are no longer just military in nature where potential aggressors and threats can appear in less obvious and non-conventional ways such as destroying social cohesion by exploiting differences in race, language, religion, culture, social or economic class; weakening national resilience by using psychological warfare to play on the people’s fears and apprehensions; or waging economic warfare through economic boycotts, trade sanctions or acts of sabotage to bring down the economy. Thus, the Total Defence provides the framework for a comprehensive and integrated response to deal with all kinds of threats and challenges. When Singaporeans take personal responsibility for and get involved in the defence of Singapore, they are playing their part to increase Singapore safe and secure. Singapore Total Defence has five pillars which are; Military Defence, Civil Defence, Economic Defence, Social Defence and Psychological Defence. These five pillars represent the key sectors of society that help Singaporeans understand how they can be involved. When Singapore takes National Service seriously, volunteer in civil defence exercises, help build a strong economy, strengthen community ties with one another regardless of race and religion and stay committed to defend the country, hence Singapore are doing something in every sector of its society to strengthen Singapore’s resilience as a nation. [7] 

In particular, Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept which is known as HANRUH (the Malay acronym of Pertahanan Menyeluruh) was introduced in 1986. Malaysia’s HANRUH consists of five components which are national vigilance, solidarity and unity of the community, public vigilance, economic fortitude and psychological resilience. [8] Although this concept has existed for more than two decades, it is still not familiar among Malaysians because the concept has never been directly put into practice. However, the government always put the efforts to familiarise this strategy as for example the concept is indirectly found in courses organised by the National Civics Bureau (BTN). BTN which has an organisational structure and experience (having been set up in 1974) is seen as the best approach to instil the concept of Total Defence not only among civil servants and university students but also Malaysians in general. Apart from this effort by government, there are still lacking in the implementation of this concept throughout the country, hence the question arises of how far does its implementation achieves the desired objectives. Although Malaysia is not confronted with critical security or defence problems after the surrender of Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), the concept is actually more effective if implemented during peaceful time than during emergency. It is about time that the country has to implement HANRUH among the citizens, if not it will be a loss to the country. Thus, this research is worthily conducted to provide the answers of how far does Malaysia successful in implementing the Total Defence Concept through her experiences.

1.2 Problem Statement

Despites government efforts to instil the understanding of Total Defence Concept or HANRUH among the Malaysian, this concept is still not familiar among the citizens because it has never been directly put into practice. Many perspectives that majority of Malaysian citizens are not aware and have very shallow understanding of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept. As the worst part, the understanding of this concept is simply associated with the responsibility of Malaysian Armed Forces as it related to the defence concept. Therefore, a study is needed to determine to what extent this concept successfully been implemented in Malaysia as part of National Defence Policy.


1.3 Research Questions

Research questions that need to be answered for this study are as follows:

1.3.1 What is the most general view about the existence of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept?

1.3.2 How far do the citizens generally understand about the Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy?

1.3.3 What are the limitations in implementing this concept among the Malaysian citizens?

1.3.4 What are the potential action plans that will assist to enhance the implementation of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy?

1.3.5 How far does Malaysia successful in implementing the Total Defence Concept?

1.4 Research Objectives

The objectives of this study will cover the desired aspects as follows:

1.4.1 To view citizens’ general knowledge about the existence of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept.

1.4.2 To highlight citizens’ general understanding of the Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy.

1.4.3 To determine the possible causes of limitation in implementing this concept among the Malaysian citizens.

1.4.4 To bring forward the potential action plans that will assist in enhancing the effectiveness of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept implementation.

1.4.5 To analyze to what extent does Malaysia successful in implementing the Total Defence Concept.

1.5 Scope

In conducting this study, there are certain limitations that should be considered. For data and information collection (for documents analysis), there are very limited papers related to this study to be referred to since the Total Defence Concept is not widely been discussed throughout the country. Therefore, certain aspects of validity and reliability of the data and ethical consideration will be seriously taken into consideration. The study will be a cross-sectional study for the period of thirteen weeks (three months and one week) from 8th May to 31st August 2012. This period will cover all of the activities as follows:

TABLE 1: Research Timelines.





Selecting a subject

Four days


Narrowing the subject into a topic

Three days


Planning and literature review

One week


Writing research proposal

Two weeks


Finding documented source materials

One weeks


Analyzing the data

Two weeks


Writing the first draft

One week


Getting supervisor’s approval

One week


Writing full research report

Two weeks


Revising, editing and proofreading

One weeks


Getting supervisor’s final approval

Six days


Submission of the research

One day

Source: Author own timelines planning.

1.6 Significance of Research

Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept was introduced since 1986 which covers the components of national vigilance, solidarity and unity of the community, public vigilance, economic fortitude and psychological resilience. However, this concept is still not familiar among Malaysians. In peace time, the threat of war is not clearly seen. Therefore, the importance of this concept remains less priority to the citizens as they either negligence of its existence or simply do not bother about it taking for granted it is the responsibility of security forces. Hence, it is a need to conduct the study to determine to what extent does Malaysia successful in implementing the Total Defence Concept throughout the country as part of National Defence Policy. This will provide the answers of whether or not this strategy is beneficial to enhance citizens’ awareness and their responsibility in the defence of Malaysia.

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1.7 Research Method

This is a qualitative research which is designed to use documents analysis as tools of data collecting methods. [9] It is important to measure the past records and experiences of Malaysia in putting the Total Defence Concept into practice. The papers regarding this concept and related documents will be examined to analyze the successful of its implementation. Data will be collected from either primary or secondary sources particularly from the National Defence University Malaysia and Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College libraries.

1.8 Research Framework

In this study, there is a need to construct a conceptual framework in order to ease the understanding of logical sense of the relationships among the several aspects that have been identified as important in understanding the issue and analysing the successful of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept. The concept flows logically integrating most logical beliefs recently of the aspects influencing and need to be emphasized for the successful of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept. Hence, in this research, after considering the research topic and its problem statement, the conceptual framework that guides the whole writing of the research is derived from the National Defence Policy where the Total Defence is a part of its Basic Defence Principles. [10] In other words, the research will focus on the Model of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy that will cover the Malaysia’s HANRUH five components which are national vigilance, solidarity and unity of the community, public vigilance, economic fortitude and psychological resilience. [11] It is necessary to refer to the National Defence Policy as the main reference and subsequently emphasizing this model in analysing the successful implementation of the Total Defence Concept in Malaysia perspective. The figure for conceptual framework to this study of the Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as follow:

Problem Statement

To What Extent This Concept Successfully Been Implemented in Malaysia as Part of Malaysia Defence Policy


Malaysia: Implementing Total Defence Concept,

Issues and Challenges

– citizens’ general knowledge

– citizens’ general understanding

– possible causes of limitation

– potential action plans

National Defence Policy

(Basic Principles of Defence)

– Self-reliance

– Total Defence (HANRUH)

– Commitment towards FPDA

– Support on UN’s Charter

– Anti Terrorist

– Defence Diplomacy

Model of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept

– National Vigilance

– Solidarity and Unity of the Community

– Public Vigilance

– Economic Fortitude

– Psychological Resilience

FIGURE 1: Conceptual Framework for Studying the Successful of

Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept.

Source: Author own research framework.

1.9 Literature Review

Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept or HANRUH is a doctrine on the mobilization of all assets and national resources to increase national capability in facing the internal or external threats. The clearest aspect of the Total Defence Concept is the activation of reserved security and defence teams in every associated organization. [12] 

HANRUH is a Total Defence Concept created by Malaysia which was introduced by the National Security Committee in May 1986 in order to plan out a defence strategy which was concrete and holistic. It consists of the use of human resources which was efficient, economical strength, unified actions from all government agencies as well as good international and regional relationship as a strategy to ensure the strength and sovereignty of the nation remains intact. The concept of Total Defence which is practised by Malaysia is a concept that moulds together the material elements and non material including patriotism and nationalism of the people in defending their nation. Thus with the Total Defence Concept that is holistic and involves all branches of security and defence service, be it government based or the people (Voluntary Defence Teams) as a strategic asset of Malaysia’s defence. As a matter of fact with the introduction and the application of the HANRUH which not only involves military but also general defence forces, it allows for the defence of the nation to be directly strengthened as well as acting as a deterrent towards Malaysia in order to avoid enemy threats. [13] 

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is also the Minister of Defence (now Prime Minister) said that several inter-agency discussions held since the 1990s to study the implementation of Malaysia’s Total Defence components had produced no concrete action. He added perhaps the absence of threats, and the comfort and peace the people have enjoyed resulted in a lack of commitment towards Total Defence. He said that after launching the Workshop on Total Defence Concept and Implementation, co-organised by the Defence Ministry and National Security Division of the Prime Minister’s Department. The objective of Total Defence Concept, as implemented in countries such as Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Singapore, is to prevent war and defend the country, through a concerted effort by the private and public sector. He also said the concept should not be limited to dealing with security threats (war and conflicts) but must also cover national crises such as natural disasters or an energy crisis for example the previous floods in Johor, Malacca and Pahang needed the collaboration of government agencies, the private sector and volunteer bodies. Here, Total Defence Concept from his view can play an effective role. [14] 

Ruhanie Ahmad in the Cyberprince responded to the above report by saying that the Malaysian government has to make up her mind to have or not to have a Total Defence Concept. The geopolitical development in the 21st century, since the launching of the War on Terror (WOT), which was later being characterized by the ever increasing incidents of black operations or false-flag operations in several regions of South East Asia, warrants such a policy to be implemented in Malaysia without any further delay. Such cases of terrorism in the present day are the reality and a Total Defence Concept is of paramount importance to benchmark our nation’s readiness to face this reality. [15] 

On other occasion, Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the national effort in the evacuation of the 10,000 odd Malaysians out of Egypt to Jeddah and then back home is under the principle of Total Defence. He was referring to the role played by various agencies of government, the private sector and NGOs in that case because Malaysia was able to deploy its national assets from both the private and public sector under the coordination and supervision of the Government to get the students out of Egypt. [16] The same case can also be applied to Malaysia experience in combating piracy at the Gulf of Aden where it involved the cooperation between the civilians with the Royal Malaysian Navy.

In Malaysia, the concept of Total Defence refers to the total and integrated efforts taken by the government, non-governmental agencies, private sectors and the citizens to defend the nation. Safeguarding Malaysia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity necessitates the commitment of all citizens and not just the Armed Forces. While the defence of the country is the physical responsibility of the security forces, the burden of ensuring that such forces are able to meet the challenges confronting them is a national responsibility. Even though it recognises the importance of regional cooperation and external assistance, Malaysia believes that self-reliance should continue to be the cornerstone of its defence. In this regard Malaysia will strive towards enhancing and developing its Armed Forces capabilities as well as promoting defence consciousness and patriotism among its citizens. [17] 

From other perspective, Malaysia, like other Southeast Asian nations, therefore does not privilege military defence in its attempts to secure the state. Nevertheless, little effort was made by the Malaysian ruling elite in the past to involve citizens in securing the state. In Malaysia, the concept of comprehensive security and Total Defence remain the domain of the elites and are hardly articulated publicly let alone operationalized at the level of society. The discourse remains within the Ministry of Defence, security officials and other public officials. Of late, the Malaysian government has attempted to introduce a limited form of national service, a policy it rejected in the past. One reason for this shift is that like other governments in the region, the Malaysian authorities realise that non-state actors are posing serious threats to regimes. The threat posed by Muslim militants is especially real for Malaysia, with a majority Muslim population. The defence of the realm can no longer be the sole domain and responsibility of the elites and the armed forces. It has to involve the masses if it is to be effective against non-state actors seeking grass-root support. However, he argued the notion of Total Defence being taken seriously amongst policy-making elites but the government is facing serious difficulties in persuading the masses that the regime’s battle is also their own battle, while there are considerable hurdles to operationalizing the concept. There are three interrelated reasons for this situation which are inherent contradictions within the concept of Total Defence, ethnic divisions in Malaysian society and the growing fragility of elite-mass relations, particularly within the Muslim population. [18] 

1.10 Chapterization

The writing of this research will be divided into five chapters. Each chapter will clearly discuss the relevant points and findings to attain the objectives of the research as a whole. The suggested chapters are as follows:

1.10.1 Chapter 1: Introduction. This chapter consists of a basic understanding of the research topic, problem statement, research questions, the objectives, the scope and its significance. It also discusses about the research methods, conceptual framework, the related literature review and the research chapterization as well.

1.10.2 Chapter 2: Background Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept. This chapter will highlight the details parts and clarify the definitions of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy. It will further specify the meaning and understanding of the concept from Malaysian perspective as a continuation of what has been touched in Chapter 1.

1.10.3 Chapter 3: Citizens’ General View and Understanding of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept. This chapter will present the data collected that will be arranged accordingly and discussed thoroughly to view citizens’ general knowledge and understanding of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy.

1.10.4 Chapter 4: Possible Causes of Limitation and Potential Action Plans. In this chapter, the writer will come out with his own analysis based on the discussion in the previous chapter in order to determine possible causes of limitation and bring forward potential action plans that will assist in enhancing the effectiveness of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept.

1.10.5 Chapter 5: Conclusion. The final chapter of this research is the concluding remarks of the writer to analyze to what extent does Malaysia successful in the implementation of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy.

1.11 Conclusion

This qualitative research is carried out to analyze to what extent does Malaysia successful in implementing the Total Defence Concept as part of National Defence Policy, its issues and challenges. By considering the topic and its problem statement, the whole writing in this study will be based on the conceptual framework that is derived from the National Defence Policy. In this policy, the Total Defence as main focus of the research is part of National Defence Policy (a part of its Basic Defence Principles). Therefore, the whole research will not be deviated and always in line with the Model of Malaysia’s Total Defence Concept that covers the five components of HANRUH.



2.1 Introduction

Since independence in 1957, Malaysia continues to develop as a recognized nation state throughout the world. Starting with agricultural based nation, Malaysia under the six premierships evolved towards an industrializing state to date. Historically, Malaysia maintains its strong political system under good leadership who managed to uphold national security as the essence of successful development until the present time. Basically, the issue of national security becomes an important element throughout the leadership of those Prime Ministers where the focus at the beginning more towards internal stability due to accommodating the multi ethnics relations and managing the threat of communist insurgency that ended in 1989.

Then, Malaysia started to extend it national security focus on external threats where the defence of its territory and safeguarding of its sovereignty are predominantly emphasized. To ensure this defence policy is achieved, Malaysia’s interpretation of national security evolves based on the concept of Total Defence as one of the Basic Principles of Defence in its National Defence Policy. [19] With the reference to the Japan’s Comprehensive Security and the Singaporean Total Defence framework, Malaysia views security as extending beyond defence, encompassing also the creation of strong and stable government and the promotion of social and ethnic among the citizens. [20] Hence, the involvement of parties from government, security forces as well as the whole citizens is paramount in implementing Malaysia Total Defence Concept. To support the understanding and analysing further of this involvement, we shall discuss further the understanding of National Defence Policy where the Malaysia Total Defence Concept (HANRUH) is a part of its Basic Principles of Defence, followed by the definition and understanding of the Malaysia Total Defence Concept thoroughly.

2.2 National Defence Policy

Malaysia National Defence Policy put its primary concern to the defence of its national interests as a core element in defending its sovereignty and independence. Therefore, the main objective of National Defence Policy is to safeguard and defend its territory from any external or internal threats. [21] In implementing the manifestation of National Defence Policy, thus, a comprehensive approach has been formed up consists of Basic Principles of Defence as illustrated in the Figure 2 below: [22] 

FIGURE 2: Basic Principles of Defence in National Defence Policy.

Source: Malaysia National Defence Policy, Ministry of Defence, 2010.

2.2.1 Self-reliance

Malaysia has to depend on its own resources and abilities to safeguard sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Therefore, Malaysian Armed Forces has to have the abilities to counter any military threats from the enemy. The abilities involve logistics support, human resources and defence industry. Thus, the development of strong defence industry and the existence of defence research and science institution are paramount for his reason.

2.2.2 Total Defence (HANRUH)

The Total Defence (HANRUH) involves every government agencies, private sectors, NGOs and the citizen to defence national sovereignty, integrity and interests in whatever circumstances. In fact, the defence of the nation does not merely the responsibility of Malaysian Armed Forces itself, but same goes to all of the citizens. Every contributing party should know their roles and contributions during the disaster or conflict faced by nation. It should be based on own national strength without any dependencies on external forces. In this context, the spirit of patriotism and nationalism should be continuously nurtured among the citizens. National interests are above all individual interests or political ideologies.

2.2.3 Commitment towards Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA) 

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