Peninsular Malaysia has, in their warship inventory, four Laksamana class missile corvettes (from Italy) armed with anti-ship and anti-air missiles (6 missile launchers per ship) with a range of 120kms. All four corvettes are also armed with 76mm and 40mm guns as well as anti-submarine torpedo systems and possess countermeasures. They have a speed of up to 35 knots.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the money that funded the acquisition of these warships in the 1990s was sourced from the exploited resources of Sabah and Sarawak (but mainly from Sabah petrol.)
Now, in the same corvette league (a teeny weeny bit more than 62 meters), the Philippines has three Peacock class corvettes (from the UK but now renamed the Jacinto class corvettes) commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1983, namely, BRP Apolinario Mabini, BRP Emilio Jacinto, and BRP Artemio Ricarte with a speed of 25 knots. Our Jacinto class corvettes are each armed with one 76mm gun, one 25MM gun, two 20mm cannons and two 50 caliber machine guns.
In a potential classic naval confrontation in Southern Philippine waters, say, in the Celebes Sea between these "similar" class of warships, but not to include the other naval and air assets and other top of the line weapons systems that Malaysia possesses, in my view, there is sadly little chance that our three Jacinto class corvettes will come out victorious. Hence, it is not to our advantage at all to engage in a classic naval battle scenario with the Malaysians today.
Our government must modernize our navy PRONTO. We need a credible navy because we have an immense coastline on top of the fact that our archipelago sits on and is surrounded by incredible masses of water. The problems that we are going to face in the very near future will be sea-based or ocean-based. Witness the problems in the Spratlys, the Scarborough stand-off with China, threats from Malaysia that may span the Sulu Sea, etc.,
The idea of beefing our navy ahead of say the other major service commands does not seek to engage a neighbour in naval warfare but understand that a credible naval power will ultimately imbue the nation with the confidence to force those who wish to bully us in our waters and yonder and attack our sovereignty rights to stop and think before doing it. Furthermore, beefing our navy may just also force Malaysia to stop and sit down with us so that we can finally tackle the thorny Sabah issue.
Our leaders, politicians, military planners, with their sidekicks, the China watchers, Malaysia watchers, i.e., the nation at large, etc. must remember there never is a better time than today when Julius Caesar's doctrine is more appropriate: "Si vis pacem para bellum." (If you want peace, prepare for war).
Note that the same doctrine helped prevent MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) during the Cold War, the most successful warfare ever conducted in the history of mankind when NO BULLET WAS FIRED between NATO and the Warsaw Pact forces.
A nation that is militarily credible is bound to have less enemies and is likely to stop potential enemies from warring with her, hence, to prepare for war does not necessarily mean to engage in war. On the contrary... Of course, there is never 100 per cent guarantee but military power will help dissuade our enemies from bullying us and instead, will encourage them to respect us.
NB: First photo shows one of Malaysia's KD Laksamana class corvettes; second photo shows the Philippines' Jacinto class corvettes.
NBB: Originally posted on the Philippine Sabah Claim Forum