Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Passing of My former CQMS of the 70s, SSgt (Rtd) Mohammad Rahmat

Everything happened so fast. Only a couple of months ago, when I last met him, he was very healthy and was going about his job (he was doing minor house repairs and renovations) as usual.                                         

A month ago he complained of being drained out after the day's job - something he had never felt before. The family suspected something was wrong when his skin began to turn yellow. They sent him to Lumut Naval Hospital but surprisingly it lacked the expertise and he was referred to General Hospital Selayang in Kuala Lumpur which diagnosed him for a 3rd degree cancer of the spleen.                                                 

He was given a 0% chance of recovery and after a week there he was sent home where he was cared for by his children. After a week, he seemed to react favourably to the medicine the Hospital gave him. His swollen legs had subsided and the yellow colour in his eyes had gone. He even could mumble some words and talk to his children.                                                                                                                                       

Upon a friend's advice, the children took him to an Islamic faith healer. It was upon his return that his condition took a turn for the worse. He was still very much with the Army - in his mind and spirit. Just before he drew his last breath, he told his children to call for me so that I could bring him to the hospital. "Quickly" he whispered, "there are many soldiers waiting for me." He drew his last breath peacefully at 13.30 p.m on 21 April 2011.                                                                                                                                         

Dear God, how he must had cherished the days and friendships when we were serving in 3rd Malaysian Rangers. Like me, and many of us, our short yet unforgetable lives in 3rd Rangers in the 70s were something that we will cherish till our dying days. Allahyarham SSjn (Rtd) Mohammad Rahmat (Mat Bond) had shown us. God bless his soul. Al-Fatihah.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Forming the Association of Bravery Awards Recipients.

The affairs of the recipients of the Malaysian and the British bravery awards had, largely, in the past, been left on their own. Only the recipients of Malaysia's highest bravery award - Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP), an equivalent of the Victoria Cross was given a monthly allowance of RM200.00. The Pingat Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB), an equivalent of the British's Military Cross (MC) was not given any. The promise of payment remained a promise for some 10 years. The Chiefs of the Army came and went and it looked like the promise had been forgotten. In 1998, 6 years after I had retired, I wrote to the Defence Minister, Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak (now the Prime Minister). I appealed to him to give the PGB holders the much-awaited-for allowance that had been promised to us. To my pleasant surprise, he answered my querry almost immediately with an assurance that he would table the motion to Parliament at the next coming sitting. A year later the PGB holders were given a monthly payment of RM300 while the SP holders were paid RM400 - an amount far beyond my expectation!!! And not only that; we were paid the backdated from 1976. I received a whopping RM65,000.00 which made me feel like an instant millionaire. In reality, that amount lasted only a few months. Where did it go to? I don't know. Then sometime in 2007, another recipient took the initiative and wrote to Dato Seri Najib for an increment to RM1000.00. Two years later, the caring government of Malaysia paid the recipients of SP and PGB RM2000.00 and RM1500.00 respectively. Again it was beyond our expectation. Not only that, the recipients of the British's George Cross, Military Cross and George Medal were also eligible for the monetary rewards. Thank you the government of Malaysia!!! The Government of Malaysia, the Armed Forces and the Army didn't forget us. We get invited to attend / witness the yearly Independence Day parades, Armed Forces and Army Day parades. So, really, we are quite busy! The recipients of bravery awards from the Army and the Police had met frequently at these occasions. We have had a number of informal discussions as well as formal meetings to find out the possibility of forming an Association of the SP & PGB. A Task Force was formed to look into the matter and to carry out the necessary works to register the Association with the Registrar of Society (ROS). I was made the interim Chairman of the Association. We had a final meeting on 9 April 2011 to finalise the many documents that are required to be submitted to ROS.

L to R: Kol Roslan PGB, Major (Rtd) Sameon PGB, Me (Interim Chairman), Major (Rtd) Hanafiah PGB (Interim Secretary), Sub-Inspector (Rtd)Mashkor PGB and Major Dato' (Rtd) Sallehuddin PGB.

The Ex-Service Association office at Jalan Bellamy which we had used on a number of occasions was unfortunately closed that day and we had to use the restaurant next to it.