Sunday, 19 September 2010

National Heroes Memorial

A paper cutting from Utusan Malaysia - courtesy of Mej (U) Nor Ibrahim's blog.
The picture above of Second Lieutenant Abdul Hamid's SP, neglected grave is taken from my squadmate, Major (U) Nor Ibrahim's blog. It shows the uncaring attitudes of Malaysians towards many things. If that can happen to one grave of the highest receipient of the nation's gallantry award, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Berani (SP), a Victoria Cross equivalent, it can happen to all the country's heroes' graves. Similar to LCpl Ungkok ak Jugam's roadside grave in Alor setar (Sarawak Rangers) which triggered me to embark on a mission to bring back all the remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers killed during the First Malayan Emergency 1948 - 1960 and buried in various parts of Peninsula Malaysia including Singapore back to their homeland, Sarawak, the neglected grave above has set me thinking of making a move to suggest to the Government to set up a National Heroes Memorial where all (if possible) the nation's heroes could be relocated and buried in one place. A body can then be tasked to administer it. Major (U) Nor Ibrahim (Retired) has brought out the question of a National Heroes Memorial where all the nation's heroes - the SP, PGB, JPP, PTU, Mention-In-Despatches etc, could be buried in one place (of course with the NOK's consent). This is a big task but who, other than the SP & PGB Association, should be burdened to shoulder the heavy responsibility? I see no other people / association is more appropriate. So, I started to contact fellow SP & PGB holders. They seemed to agree with my proposal. We feel we should have a preliminary meeting in KL, involving those in KL and other members outside KL who can make it. So, the second step has been taken - following the first step my squadmate had boldly taken to highlight Second Lieutenant Abdul Hamid's neglected grave. Followings were events / happenings that had led to my decision to realise a National Heroes Memorial (taken from Major (U) Nor Ibrahim's blog):

Pusara Pahlawan Negara

Saya dan 'squad-mate', Lt Kol Robert Rizal Abdullah PGB (B), telah berkomunikasi bermula dengan coretan ini... 18 September 2010 8:47:47... Just a proposal. Would you like to take the challenge: Make a study of all the PGBs & SPs graves throughout Malaysia - especially onn their state and suggest to the government to set up a Heroes Memorial such as Arlington and move all the graves to this National Memorial. I can assist you if you want. Respons saya pada 19 September 2010 06:55... Thank you for your proposal. Much as I like to accept your challenge, family commitments are the main constraints. As I stated in my 'coretan', i strongly feel that all those killed in 'real' actions should be buried in the 'National Heroes Memorial'. What I mean by 'real' is that those killed by the enemies and booby traps. As far as I'm concerned, those aircrew killed in aircraft crashed (not due to enemy's fire) were/are not heroes. Each recipient of the 5 Gallantry Awards is guaranteed a plot there, ie, if NOK permits. Respons Rizal selanjutnya pada 19 September 2010 8:08:18... I feel someone must take up the cause earnestly - rebury all the PGB and SP dead in a National Heroes War Memorial, ideally located in either KL, Terendak or PD. This could be a tourist attraction as well with its mini museum located within. I do not know whether I have the strength and stamina to see and carry it out. It will take a couple of years of instant "fight". Let's play it by the ear and circumstances. Definitely we must have a team. No one man can do it. Saya ambil petikan e-mel Mejar Ishak... '...beberapa minggu yg lalui saya ada termenonton satu LIVE oleh BBC worldnews.... Kerajaan Perancis telah menjumpai sebuah kubor besar di sebuah daerah. Apabila di siasat didapati kubor itu tertanam beratus ratus tentera British, australia, NZ dan France. Mereka terkorban dan ditanam disitu semasa perang Dunia Pertama. (WW1) Kerajaan kelima lima negara ini bersetuju membuat sebuah Pusara Pahlawan di daerah tersebut. Pada hari itu semasa saya termenonton LIVE dapat menyaksikan pembukaan rasmi pusara tersebut. Ada satu ceremony, simbolik....mayat di gali dari kubor besar dibawa dengan kereta kuda dan masukan dalam kubor baru dan di saksikan oleh waris waris tentera yg terkorban. Kebanyakan nya cucu tentera tu.......they came thousand miles away from home. Mat Salleh bab respect depa punya pahlawan memang kagum.' Berita mutakhir...saya menerima berita ini melalui facebook...

Robert Rizal Abdullah

Robert Rizal Abdullah20 September 2010 at 07:23

Subject: Heroes Memorial for PGB & SP (and whatever else)

I am thinking of picking this up from where you have left. I have been contacting buddy PGB & SP holders on this. Since we have an association (PGB & SP holders), I feel we are the right people who should take up and chase the matter seriously. An initial meeting is in the offing in KL soon to thrash the matter.

Squad...Terima kasih kerana sedia memulakan projek ini, Syukur Alhamdulillah. Maka bermulalah 'Fasa ke2'...Over to you, Squad. Saya cadangkan persatuan anda turut juga menjejaki pusara penerima JPP, PTU & KPK. Untuk makluman anda, pusara wira-wira TUDM:

· PGB - 1 ~ Kapt (U) Choo Yeok Boo (Sg Petani)

· PTU - 3 ~ Lt Jen (U) Mohd Taib (Rantau Panjang), Lt (U) Chung Min Teck (Klian Intan) dan Sjn Leong Yee Heang (Penang)

· KPK - 2 ~ Kapt (U) Wan Munsiff (Kangar) dan Kapt (U) Mustapha Kamal (Taiping)

Bayangkan.... Lt M Abdul Hamid Bin Ismail, L/Kpl Abdullah Bin Majid (Sapper), L/Kpl Suandi Bin Saim (ART), Sjn Leong Leong Yee Heang (AQM), Lt (U) Wan Munsiff, Kapt Hardev Singh, Rjr Dumbon ak Chek, Kpl Mohamed Adzahar Bin Mokhtar(Peninjau) dan ramai lagi, dengan izin waris mereka, semuanya disemadikan di Pusara Pahlawan Negara!! Saya akan e-melkan coretan ini ke KEMENTAH tetapi...FAHAM-FAHAM SAJALAH!! Atau sesiapa yang 'buddy-buddy' dengan PM/TPM? Hanya dengan campur tangan mereka ditambah dengan 'laporan' Persatuan SP & PGB, 'probability' impian ini menjadi kenyataan boleh 99.9% termakbul, InsyaAllah. Pembaca...Pada 18 Sep, saya telah menghantar e-mel kepada Penerbit "Galeri Nasional"RTM 1 mencadangkan agar RTM membuat liputan terhadap isu ini. Beliau berjanji akan membacanya pada hari ini (Isnin, 20 Sep). Sama ada dipersetujui atau sebaliknya...Wallahualam!

Terkini...19 September Jam 3215. Terima panggilan telefon bagi memaklumkan bahawa pusara arwah Lt M Abdul Hamid SP telah dibersih setelah diarahkan oleh PTD. 6 RAMD juga turut mencadangkan kepada Jatawankuasa madrasah agar ditukar nama kepada Madrasah Abdul Hamid...Terpulanglah kepada mereka. Syukur Alhamdulillah. Saya difahamkan arahan ini diberi setelah PTD terbaca surat dalam 'Forum' Utusan Malaysia...bukannya terbaca e-mel yang saya hantar. Sekarang terbukti e-mel yang kurang sedap diketahui oleh Bos tidak akan membolos 'gate-keepers'. Mana mungkin Bos ada masa untuk membaca e-mel...maklumlah, mereka sibuk memikirkan keselamatan negara daripada melayan perkara remeh-temeh ini!! Pelajaran dari episod ini...Untuk mendapat respons, lebih baik menghubungi media massa. Kalau nak hantar e-mel, dapatkan alamat e-mel peribadi mereka.

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Plight of an ex-British soldier

Abdul Rahim and wife

18191973 LCpl Abdul Rahim Bin Abdul Karim enlisted in the British Army on 24 August 1962 in Singapore and served as a driver in the Royal Army Ordinance Corps (RAOC). As fate had it, he was struck by a sickness that eventually paralysed him. He was medically boarded out and on 6 June 1969 he was discharged from service - after having served for 7 years and 73 days. He went home to his village in Kuala Kangsar. Paralysed and with three additional mouths to feed, he must had found the going tough. The British Army regulation of not giving any form of pension to medically-boarded out personnels whose sicknesses / injuries were not due to service seemed cruel indeed. Abdul Rahim was not paid any pension. Early this year, after 31 long years, the family was making an effort to find out whether Abdul Rahim is entitled to a pension. Late though it may seemed, it is better late than never. On 5 September 2010, his son Norazman who is currently working in Kuching called me to find out whether I could help out. I couldn't turn down the request of a person in need. So, the next day I drove over to locate his father's house in Kg Talang Masjid, Kuala Kangsar, Perak. I found it without much difficulty. After acquiring the relevant details and documents, I left for Taiping an hour later. The chances of getting a invaliding pension seems bleak as it is clearly spelt out in the regulation. We are hoping for a charitable Briton to bend the rules a little and give Abdul Rahim some form of monetary allowance / compensation. I have sent a letter to that effect to the relevant authority in the UK. Meanwhile let us keep our fingers crossed.

Update: 8 February 2011

Following my inquiry letter to Service Personnel & Veterans Agency in the UK regards gratuity payment to Abdul Rahim, I'm afraid, I have reached the end of the road to help this ex-British Army soldier. The explanations given by the SP & VA are very clear: He is not entitled to a Disability Pension and the gratuity, though the amount of $172 was negligible, nevertheless was already paid out to him. What remain is the hope of getting some little monetary aid that are being dished out to the ex-British soldiers in Malaysia at the moment.