KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein warned that Malaysia cannot afford to rest on its laurels even though the Philippines had confirmed the death of Malaysian lecturer-turned-militant Mahmud Ahmad, as others will emerge to take his place.
"I have not received confirmation from our (Malaysia) intelligence but the indication from the Philippines' side is that that is the case," Datuk Seri Hishammuddin told reporters after a National Transformation 2050 (TN50) dialogue with the Defence Ministry at Wisma Perwira on Friday (Oct 20).
"While the news was confirmed by their (Philippines') highest leadership, let's just get confirmation from our own intelligence first."
However, even if the news was true, the minister said the security forces could not afford to rest easy.
On Thursday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted by the country's media as saying that Mahmud, as well as two other high-ranking militants, had been killed in Marawi city.
News of his death came in the wake of reports that Isnilon Hapilon, the "Emir" of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Omar Maute had also been killed earlier this week
On the coming Malaysian budget, Hishammuddin said he met the prime minister to convey his needs for the ministry, adding that this included increased funds to improve the Malaysian Special Forces units to better equip them to combat militancy.
Among the plans shared at the TN50 dialogue with members of the Armed Forces and the ministry was for a hospital, which would be built for veterans.
As of now, the ministry is eyeing Ipoh as a prospective location for the hospital.