Saturday, 13 June 2009
Dayak Tracker Maja anak Barek - an Unsung Hero
An Unsung Hero Dayak Tracker Maja anak Barek On August 8, 1948, six weeks after the Emergency was declared, the colonial government of Sarawak decided to respond to the request from the Malayan government to send Dayak Trackers to help quell the communist insurgency in Malaya. A group of some 49 Dayak Trackers were sent. A young, enthusiastic and confident Dayak by the name of Maja anak Barek was one of them. With his ancestors’ talismans tied around his waist and neck, he set forth to go to war and to show the world the courage and determination that was brimming and boiling within him. To him and his friends, as were they to his ancestors, the fearless courage of their warrior forefathers must live on in them. To the Dayak warriors, courage was a virtue and a trademark of a true warrior. Maja ak Barek was born on December 8, 1931 in Kapit. He answered the call when the Malayan government requested for help from the Sarawak government to quell the communist insurgency in 1948. Maja was then a young, dashing and eager 17 year old Dayak youth who, like all other Dayaks, considered fighting in a war as a supreme virtue that a man must possess. On arrival in Port Dickson, he and the others were sent to undergo two weeks of rigorous training under Company Quality British Regiment commanded by Major Brush Mary. On completion of the training, he was assigned to a unit, which was operating in Keroh, Perak. In the middle of 1948, he was transferred to A Company of Kenya Regiment in Bukit Dinding, Pahang where he remained for the next 7 months. Battles with the communist insurgents were frequent. In 1950, he was again transferred to C Company of the Queen of London Regiment in Segamat, Johore. When B Company of the Manchester Regiment took over the Area of Responsibility from the Company, Maja was transferred to the incoming unit and continued to disburse his dedicated service until 1953. In late 1952, the 380 Dayak Trackers that were attached to the various units in Malaya were conferred military status by the Sarawak Government. They were grouped into two experimental platoons commanded by British Officers. The Dayaks held the non-commission officers appointments. Thus started the reformed Sarawak Rangers, a unit that was started by Rajah Charles Brooke in 1862 but was disbanded in 1930 due to the world economic recession. The Sarawak Rangers Ordinance no. 22 of 1953 was not passed until 16 September 1953. However, Sarawak Rangers was officially reformed with effect January 1, 1953 - Sarawak Rangers (Malayan Unit) was formed. Sarawak Rangers (Malayan Unit) remained until it was disbanded on 31 March 1960 to give way to the new Sarawak Rangers (Far East Land Forces) which made it a part of the British Army. This new Unit didn’t last very long. On 15 September 1963 it was disbanded again to make way for the modern 1st Battalion, The Malaysian Rangers, which was formed on 16 September 1963 – the day Malaysia was borned. When the Manchester Regiment was redesignated as the Green Jacket, Maja was assigned as a Senior Dayak Tracker in one of the two experimental platoons. In the same year, Maja was shot and wounded in the stomach. He went in and out of the hospitals and was assigned light works. Finally in 1957, after 9 years of dedicated service that included numerous battles with the communist terrorists, he called it a day and resigned. Bearing in mind that the Dayak Trackers were employed on a three-months contract basis, Maja’s willingness to renew his services again and again was astounding! Maja’s warrior spirit could not be surpressed. In 1960, after his return to Sarawak, he joined the Police Field Force in Kuching as a Police Constable. A year later he was transferred to Lanang Camp in Sibu and was promoted to a Lance Corporal. At the outbreak of the Brunei Rebellion in 1962, he was transferred to the Field Force camp in Miri. He was involved in operations against the Brunei rebels. In 1964, he was transferred again to Lanang Camp in Sibu which was later renamed F Company and later as 15th Battalion Police Field Force. He was promoted to a Corporal. He remained in the unit until 1975 when he decided for an early retirement, which was partly due to his injuries he sustained in a battle with the communist terrorists in Julau, Kanowit in 1972. Two years before his retirement, he was promoted to an acting Sergeant which he held until he retired in 1975 with a meager pension of RM300 a month. For Maja anak Bareh, it had been a long 27 years of actions against the communist terrorists, first in Malaya, the Brunei Rebellion and then the Sarawak communist insurgency. Although married with 6 children to care for, it had been his dedicated duty to Country first. His life had been on the tip of a bull’s horn whenever he went on jungle operations and we could only imagine what an ordeal his family had gone through all these 27 years. Thank you Sergeant Maja anak Barek for giving your best to this country of ours and by making it as it is today. Without the unsung heroes like you, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the peace we are having today.