Friday, 3 April 2009

At Last I'm in Contact With My Former Commanding Officer

Lt Col Philip Lee Khiu Fui - a Commanding Officer deeply etched in my memory I was searching in vain for my former Commanding Officer, Sarawakian Lt Col Philip Lee Khiu Fui who retired as a Brigadier General. Captain (Rtd) George Ngau and I did go to his house in Damansara in the 80s once, but that was a long time ago. He had moved. He was commanding 3rd Rangers from 1973 to 1975. It was under him that the Battalion became famous. The year was 1973. It was the greatest year for the Battalion and it was mine too. The Battalion had scored the biggest success - 30 CTs killed in a single year. That was a record that stood till today. It will remain so as there is no more armed conflict. After the dawn attack on the CT camp in the inaccessible swamp of Asajaya (Nonok then), Lt Col Philip Lee and Commander 3 Brigade, Brigadier General Hassan Mohd Salleh took the risk, flew in an Allouette to rendezvous with me in a clearing about 1000 metres from the enemy camp. They couldn't stay long as the helicopter couldn't land and it was hovering a few inches above the swamp. They shook my hands and congratulated me. I could see and sensed their joy and pride at our success. Not long after we came back to our base in Serian, Lt Col Philip Lee wrote my citation and before we returned to our main camp in Taiping, Perak at the end of 1973, I was awarded the nation's second highest bravery award, the Panglima Gagah Berani ( PGB). I owed that to Lt Col Philip Lee. Thank you Sir for the honour. After about 20 years, Army Admin wanted me to collect the "gong" from the office personally or send a runner. I refused and insisted it be given in a proper manner. I must had ruffled a few feathers by my demand. However, I stood by my principle that an award of that stature must be given in a dignified manner. Lt Col Philip Lee stood behind me and wrote a letter to the Department in support of me. Thank you Sir! A special ceremony was arranged in MINDEF with all the top brass present. I was satisfied. Many were not. When I began to write my autobiography two years ago, I wanted very much for Lt Col Philip Lee to write the foreword to the book. It would have been befitting indeed. I called the Veterans Department and some of my colleagues to find out his home address and telephone numbers. But alas! The address and the telephone numbers were outdated. He had moved. I was disappointed and dismayed. The book has no foreword. I never give up though. I wanted to present him the book, as he was one of the main characters/players. I mentioned in my blog and in one of my paper report. It paid off. A few days ago Lt Col (Rtd) Dato' Martin Kam called me. He read in the Malay Mail about my wish to contact Brigadier General Philip Lee. He said he has met General Philip and has his telephone numbers too. He would give them to me when he gets home. He was in Sungai Petani. So today (April 3, 2009) he gave me the telephone numbers. I kept my fingers crossed that they are still in use. They were! An hour later, I have the books sent to him via the Pos Laju. My wish is partly fulfilled. Now that I'm in contact with him, it is still not too late to write the foreword and have it included in the next edition!

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