Sunday, 28 September 2008

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.

1 comment:

  1. South Thailand was a 'sweet nirvana' for the CTs in insurgency period.