Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Letter that launched Operation Ngerapuh.

This was The Letter that launched Operation Ngerapuh, now renamed Operation Mai Pulai (a move to bring home the remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers killed in actions and buried in various parts of Malaya and Singapore). The heart-breaking picture of the road-side grave of a Sarawak Ranger killed in action against the communist terrorists at the height of the Malayan Emergency 1948 - 1960, moved me to take the necessary actions.

I saw and read the appeal in a blog. I immediately tried to do something worthwhile. It compounded me why the grave was left where it was. Nobody seemed to care and moved it to a more respectable and dignified location, befitting a soldier who had sacrificed his life to defend this country.

It dawned on me that if the Authorities were nonchalant about one grave, it could happen to the other 20 Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers graves in other parts of Malaya and Singapore. I decided to make a move to make Sarawak realised that her dead heroes are buried, scattered and neglected in Malaya.

In conjunction with my book launch by the Chief Minister of Sarawak on 6 November 2008 in Kuching, I prepared the necessary letter and documents that I intended to hand over to the Chief Minister when I briefed him on the situation.

I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to my proposal to bring back the remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers to Kuching and rebury them in a Heroes Memorial. He gave me one term - that all next-of-kins must give their consents.

I set up a committee to do the necessary ground works and I travelled to Kuching quite often from my home base in Taiping, Perak.

The CM, Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud launched my books on 6 November 2008 in his office.

Discussing the issue with the CM and his Deputy Tan Sri Alfred Jabu ak. Numpang. Kanang ak. Langkau SP, PGB is on the right.

Immediately on my return from Kuching, I wrote a letter to Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran ATM (JHEV) about LKpl Ungkok's road-side grave. Four months later, JHEV exhumed and moved the grave to a Christian Cemetery nearby in full Iban tradition.  Thanks JHEV for the quick action.

The "miring ceremony" - an Iban tradition.

The VIPs including Alor Setar's Mayor, JHEV's Director, Maj Gen Dato' Zulkifli, Kol Steven Mundaw in his capacity as a senior Iban military officer, Maj Monday Juhid Director of JHEV Sarawak Branch and yours truly.

Moving Operation Ngerapuh Machinery
I had to garner supports for the projects. Luckily for me, I got acquainted with the Editor and officers of Sarawak's major daily paper, The Borneo Post. Through them, I had the project well publicised.

Forming a committee

Paid a courtesy call on YB Dato Seri William Mawan
(in the absence of Deputy CM, YAB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu)

Briefing Tan Sri Alfred Jabu on the project.

The first State-level meeting on Op Ngerapuh
chaired by the Deputy CM, YAB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.

Me and my committee seen here with the Deputy Chief Minister, YAB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
Nation's Full Support
Then, on 23 February 2010, Operation Ngerapuh received the biggest boost. The Prime Minister, YAB Dato Seri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak during his visit to Sarawak announced his full support to bring the remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers home to Kuching. The task was now in the Federal Government's hands. The Army has been tasked to spearhead the move. A week later, I received a call from the acting Chairman of the Malaysian Rangers Corp, Brig Gen Dato Zulkifli Mansor in Ipoh, to brief him on what had happened.

Briefing Acting Rangers Corps Chairman, Brig Gen Datuk Zulkifli
on Op Ngerapuh / Mai Pulai. The Army has been tasked to take over

1 comment:

  1. A noble deed indeed to have successfully brought all the heroes (deceased) *back home* after all these years. Congrats to Kol Robert Rizal for his commitment and perseverance.
    But was about a month ago that i have read about the deplorable condition of the Heroes' Burial Ground in Kuching. I don't have to go into details as regard to its condition. Its high time that JHEV Sarawak coordinates with the have the site cleaned and
    maintained on a monthly basics. Probably, with some beautification done to the tombstone and the surrounding areas.....this site can be another tourist attraction for Kuching City.