12:31pm 31/05/2023
When was Sanusi made an honorary admiral?
By:Mariam Mokhtar

At LIMA 2023 in Langkawi last weekend, Kedah menteri besar Muhammad Sanusi Mohd Nor was proudly showing off his new uniform and rank.

When was Sanusi made an honorary admiral of the navy? What right has he to don military garb?

Did Sanusi undergo the most basic military training? Would he have even passed it? Would he have survived the naval fitness, swimming, and strength and endurance tests? Can he fire an assault rifle or display teamwork in a firefighting exercise?

The uniform means everything to the armed forces personnel. It is like his second skin.

People respect those in military uniform for their services to the nation and their pride in serving the King and country. But, the practice of dishing out honorary military awards to politicians and celebrities like singers and athletes is an insult to the years of sacrifice and commitment the military men and women go through. Many have also died serving the nation.

Expressing his anger at Sanusi’s appearance in his naval uniform at LIMA 23, a retired army officer said, “No politician is allowed to wear a military uniform as the armed forces is apolitical, and it will be a conflict of interest. This is an abuse of military uniforms by politicians.”

He is right. Why should Sanusi be allowed to mock the military personnel who have made huge sacrifices and dedicated years of hard work and training to have the honor and privilege of wearing the uniform and be awarded their rank?

Sanusi was recently photographed at LIMA 23 with the minister of defense Mohamad Hassan and the minister of transport Anthony Loke.

Did both ministers criticize the controversial Sanusi for treating the military uniform as if it were a fashion statement?

Didn’t anyone from the menteri besar’s office in Alor Setar remind Sanusi of a former defense minister’s order from a few years ago, banning honorary ranks and uniforms for politicians?

Why should Sanusi be allowed to mock the military personnel who have made huge sacrifices and dedicated years of hard work and training to have the honor and privilege of wearing the uniform and be awarded their rank?

On April 19, 2019, after becoming the minister of defense, Mohamad Sabu aka Mat Sabu banned the practice of awarding honorary ranks to politicians and celebrities, and he forbade them from wearing military uniforms.

The Malay Rulers who hold ceremonial positions in various branches of the Malaysian Armed Forces welcomed and gave their consent to Mat Sabu’s proposal to prevent any abuse of the awards by irresponsible people.

Perhaps Mat Sabu’s directive has later been rescinded by subsequent defense ministers.

He said politicians should not be allowed to wear the uniform in public, unless they had undergone military training.

He added the importance of honoring the services and sacrifices of soldiers who had put in years of training and it was also done to prevent the degrading of the ranks.

Last April, Sanusi claimed that he had not been invited to LIMA 23 after the cabinet decided to ban him from attending official federal government events.

However, his remarks were dismissed by deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who denied that the cabinet had issued such a controversial directive.

What was Sanusi up to making the remark?

Some people may claim that complaining about Sanusi donning military uniform is such a trivial matter.

On the contrary, it is not a small matter, as many ordinary civilians and military personnel are outraged.

In 2017, Lt-Col (Rtd) Mohd Idris Hassan and several of his peers were furious that politicians were promoting themselves to the rank of General, Colonel or Captain.

None of these politicians had fired a shot in defense of the nation, nor completed even a day’s military training.

Those who received Parachute Wings had not made a single jump and yet they had the audacity to wear the much coveted maroon beret of the airborne units.

Mohd Idris was not alone in his criticism. The leader of veterans group, the National Patriots Association (Patriot), Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji strongly supported Idris in demanding the practice be stopped.

He condemned the actions of former ministers and politicians for treating military uniform as a fashion statement.

He said, “We had to slog all our lives to attain these ranks. This practice of politicians abusing the military uniform has to stop…Even the defense minister should be discouraged from wearing a uniform.”

Arshad said politicians were “disgraceful” for their failure to wear their uniforms properly, but more importantly none of them had undergone the rigorous tests and courses which are spread over many years.”

Mohd Idris said the country should have only two recognized institutions known as the uniformed services, and these are the armed forces and the police.

So, will Mohamad Hassan, the defense minister, take a firm stand against this wanton and reckless abuse of the military rank and donning of military uniforms?

Will he put Sanusi firmly in his place?

Will he issue proper guidelines to stop further confusion and abuse of the military rank and uniform?

There should be no compromise on this matter.


  1. Malaysiakini: Mat Sabu: No more honorary ranks for politicians and celebs
  2. The Malay Mail: Military ranks earned, not reward for political or public celebrity: Lt-Col (ret) Mohd Idris Hassan



(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)


Mariam Mokhtar
Muhammad Sanusi Mohd Nor


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