Sunday, 28 September 2008

My Kilat (Lightning) Platoon

My Kilat (Lightning) Platoon of 1973 in Serian, Sarawak. The year, 1973, was my greatest year. It was also the greatest year for my Battalion, 3rd Malaysian Rangers. The Battalion had created a record in making the highest number of kills in a single year - 30 CTs killed. Under me, Kilat platoon had the most. It was soon surpassed by D Company which I later commanded towards the end of the year. In my final contact with the 1st Coy of "Pasukan Gerila Rakyat Sarawak (PGRS), I was awarded the nation's second highest bravery award, the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB). I had achieved my goal and dream. I had wanted to be like my warrior predecessors in the Sarawak Rangers who had served with distinction with the Commonwealth Forces during the First Emergency in Malaya from 1948 to 1960. Above all, I would like to think I had passed the test of courage - not once but three times within that year. Of course, all these wouldn't have been possible without the equally enthusiastic and brave soldiers under my command. All these didn't come easy. The platoon had to be trained to work as a dedicated, brave and a confident team. They must be made to feel they were superior in terms of fighting skills, endurance and strength. They must have high spirit and espirit-de-corps. How had I achieved this?
I enrolled the platoon in a local Tang Soo Do Club and trained with them twice a week
................ and trained them four times a week in Serian Camp
...... and sparred with them during the training sessions. ......and the results were successes after successes.

Operation Cahaya Bena 1, 1976

Operation Cahaya Bena 1 (1976) Joint Malaysian-Thai Security Forces Operation in South Thailand. It was the best news we had ever heard - we were going to have a joint operation with the Thai security forces in the hot beds of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in the Betong Salient. Betong Salient was a known safe sanctuary of the CPM. Every time after hitting the Malaysian troops, they would always retreat into Betong to avoid the counter actions by the Malaysian troops. Therefore, when the news broke out, we were happy and looked forward to the big day. However, it was a total disappointment for us. We were given an area too far north - about 40 kilometres inside the Thai territory. Although there were traces that indicated the presence of the communist terrorists (CTs) in the area, I believed their main camps were not there. I was right in my assumption when much later after they had laid down their arms in 1989, they opened up their underground tunnel systems near the town of Betong as a tourist attraction. The operation had been quite a challenge and a different dimension for us. We found out, the CTs had a firm foothold in the area. They had mingled well with the locals. To a certain extent, they were a part of the local population. After about a month, D Company of 3rd Rangers killed 2 CTs in an ambush. I was hot on the CTs trail. I was following a well-used track that I was sure would lead to a big camp. It was heavily booby-trapped and the going was slow. After about two kilometres, I was told to cease following the track. A few days later the operation was called off and we returned to our base in Taiping.
Me and some of my men together with 3 Thai BPP attached to my Company throughout the operation.
There were a few questions that had always haunted my mind: Why was the operation called off when we were hot on the trails of the CTs? I believed, if we had continued to follow the track for another one week, we could have caught up with a main group whose men I saw a couple of days earlier. Had the killing of the two CTs and my follow up action forced the Thai counter-part to abandon the operation? The answers will perhaps remain unanswered with the planners. To us, it was a big disappointment.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Operation Pagar, Perak 1977

Operation Pagar, Ayer Kala, Perak, Malaysia 1977. I took part and played a major role in a brigade-size cordon and search operation against a small group of communist terrorists (CTs) who were caught in a cordon in the night operation. I was commanding Company D of 3rd Rangers and was one of three assault companies. We crossed Perak River (visible in the picture) at first light and started the sweep of the target area from the far bank of Perak River with the help of assault boats operated by 3rd Rangers Assault Pioneer Platoon. The going was tough as we had to force our way up a slope covered by thick thorny underbrushes closely interwoven, much like concentina wire. Their sharp thorns pricked and scratched our bare hands and faces. As we came near the top of the hillock we were under fire. I could hear the thumping sounds of bullets as they whizzed over our heads. I tried to locate where the fire came from. As it was still dark, visibility was still bad. I couldn't see the CTs. The target area was suddenly lightened up as flares were fired over our heads. We could hear the whistling sounds of empty canisters as they plunged down and landed uncomfortably close to us. We reached the top of the hillock without a fight and went down the other side for another few more hundred meters into a rubber plantation. No CTs. We knew we were quite close to the cordon forces and for safety reason stopped where we were. The same story happened to the other two assaulting companies on my right. It was a disappointment for us. Had the CTs slipped through the tight cordon at night? May be but the planners didn't think so. Leaftlets were dropped into the target area to persuade the CTs to come out. Loud speakers blared out similar messages. No response. The operation dragged on into its third day. Finally, I was asked to bring a small group armed with tear gas. We were asked to throw the tear gas canisters into suspected hideouts - hoping to force the CTs out. As expected, there was no response. The stark reality was that the CTs had slipped out of the cordon. Nevertheless, the operation was not a total failure. An independent group from 3rd Rangers operating just outside the cordon area made contact with a band of CTs on the first night. They killed one and captured another.

The Sunset Fishing

This is one of my favourite picture. It was taken sometime in 1986 at the confluence of Binio and Pandan River in the upper reaches of Kamena River in Sarawak's Fourth Division. I was leading my battalion in a search and destroy operation to locate the remaining communist terrorists hardcore who were still active in the Third and Fourth Division of Sarawak. There were scattered Iban long houses and settlements in the area. There was no road and the only mean of movement was by boats through the rivers. I was on an intelligence gathering mission. I was there for about half a day, at the end of it I caught the beautiful picture of the sunset.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Starting My Blog

I'm basically not very well versed with the use of computers. I used it merely as a type writer - of course much convenient and faster than the conventional ribbon-fed type writers. In some aspects, I'm better-off than many of my friends. This is because my son is IT trained and I used to ask him to teach me a thing or two. Over the years, I have joined a number of poetry-writing and discussion groups in the internet. Some were free while some were not. In all of them, I never last more than a year as I became disillusioned and discouraged - maybe just because I carry an Asian name, my contributions were less read. Or may be as my name was not established, I couldn't attract the readers to my writings. In the end I became discouraged and disillusioned. A year ago, a friend, David Chin of NZ convinced me to join Multiply which I did. I'm still a member. I put all my poems and short stories in there. Just like the other sites, my readers were far and few. So I decided to copy and download some songs and musics into my site and I noticed there were more visitors to that section. To most of them, however, they were just fleeting shadows that come and go. There were no warm exchange of conversations. My multiply is rather cold and lonely. A couple of months ago David again tried to convince me to create a blog - create your own world. I was reluctant. Isn't multiply a blog? May be it is and just like the rest, I'm beginning to be discouraged and disillusioned too. David was persistent - he would make a good salesman! Yesterday I told him I'll give a try. And here I am with my blog "PGBWarrior". Malaysians will know what the "PGB" stands for. It is a coveted bravery award. Well, this is my first entry. I don't know really where to start. Should I start my story from 50 years ago? Or should I start with the recent happenings? Oh well! I shouldn't worry too much at this stage. Perhaps everything will fall into place as I go along. And as I go along, I hope to meet more friends here. So here's cheers to all of you who'll take the trouble to read my first entry. Thank you.