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Former Army chief to be Chief of Defence Force


KUALA TERENGANU: Former Army chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin has been slated to be appointed the top man in the Armed Forces.

NSTP has learnt that the Armed Forces Council, which sat on Thursday, approved of Zulkifli’s appointment as the 20th Armed Forces chief, effective June 20.

An expert in tactical weapons and insurgency, as well as being a sniper, Zulkifli confirmed the appointment when contacted by NSTP, but declined further comment.

It is learnt that Zulkifli, who is due for compulsory retirement on Nov 30 this year, had been on resettlement (pre-retirement) leave since May 15 after handing over his duties as vice-chancellor of the National Defence University.

Armed Forces headquarters chief of staff Lt Gen Datuk Abdul Halim Jalal succeeded Zulkifli as vice-chancellor.

“It has been five years out in the cold for Zulkifli, and he is now back in the saddle where he rightly belongs,” said a source.

The source added that it was “payback time” for Zulkifli, who was “unceremoniously” replaced as Army chief with Gen Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor on June 14, 2013.
Zulkifli, who was made Army chief on June 14, 2011, was then re-designated as the university’s vice-chancellor in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

The reshuffling occurred at the height of the 2013 Lahat Datu incursion, over which Zulkifli is believed to have had a falling-out with the Defence Ministry hierarchy, said the source.

It was the first time that a ‘four-star’ full general was appointed the university’s vice-chancellor, a position previously held by ‘three-star’ lieutenant-generals.

In fact, Zulkifli had previously served as the university’s vice-chancellor from 2008 until his promotion later to Army chief.

At the time, Zulkifli was hotly tipped to eventually become the Armed Forces chief to replace retiring Gen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, who later became the first general appointed as the National Security Council director-general.

Zulkifli replaces current Armed Forces chief Raja Affandi, whose extended service contract, it is learnt, will expire on Dec 19.

Raja Affandi replaced Zulkifli as Army chief on Dec 19, 2016 and was due to retire on his birthday on June 20 last year. However, his service was extended for a year.

The source said that Raja Affandi is expected to hand over his duties to Zulkifli at the Defence Ministry on June 20, before going on resettlement leave.

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