Sunday, 31 July 2011

Reviving Sarawak Rangers.

Firm in the belief that "only Dayaks can kill Dayaks", Rajah Charles Brooke formed an all-Dayak 32-men strong force that was later to be known as the Sarawak Rangers on October 1862. But it was only gazetted on 2 September 1872. From then on, no military expeditions were launched without it. Sarawak Rangers became the nucleus of every expeditions he mounted against the rebellious Dayaks. Sarawak Rangers must never disappear into the folds of history. It is an important link to our illustrious past. It is the pride of the Ibans and Sarawak. This I had mentioned in my speech on 27 July 2011, during the reburial ceremony of the 21 Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers killed during the first phase of the Malayan Emergency 1948 - 1960. Sarawak's top leaderships were present, including the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Deputy Federal Home Minister, YB William Mawan, YB Tan Sri James Masing and Sarawak's top brass, amongst the many.

Sarawak Rangers had been the pride of the Rajahs who had taken great personal interest in it. All its Commanding Officers and trainers were the personal choice of the Rajahs.

However, due to the Great Economic Recession of the 1930s, the Rajah could not sustain the Force and on 29 February 1932, Sarawak Rangers was officially disbanded. Most returned to their long houses while some were absorbed into the Sarawak Constabulary.

In August 1941, just before the Japanese Army invaded Sarawak, the Rangers was re-raised and it was involved in the defence of Miri/Lutong and Kuching.

The Japanese Forces were too strong for the Rangers. They conceded defeat and dispersed. Later they were to join Major Tom Harrison and the Z Force to fight and harrass the Japanese. Sarawak was liberated by the Australian forces on 11 September 1945 and by 29 October of the same year, Z force disintergrated and the ex-Rangers also went home.

Eight weeks after the Malayan Emergency was declared on 16 June 1948, the first group of 49 Iban Trackers were sent to Malaya - to meet the request of the Malayan government. The Commonwealth forces need the tracking skills of the Ibans to track down the communist terrorists in the thick jungle of Malaya.

What happened after that had been mentioned in my other write-ups. The Iban Trackers was an astounding success. As requested by the Iban leaders back home that their warriors be given full military responsibility, the para military Iban Trackers were re-formed into the Sarawak Rangers - a full-fledged military unit with Lt Col C.J Baird as their first Commanding Officer on 1 January 1953. Oganised into two platoons, Sarawak Rangers continued to perform the same task that they were doing when they were Iban Trackers.

Then on 31 March 1960, Sarawak Rangers (Malayan Unit) was disbanded and the next day, 1 April 1960, it became Sarawak Rangers (Far East Land Forces), to become a part of the British Army. They could now be deployed anywhere in the world.

However, on 15 September 1963, it was again disbanded and on 16 September 1963 it became the 1st Battalion, Malaysian Rangers. Only 100 members of the Sarawak Rangers (FELF) volunteered to continue their service while the rest opted to return to their long houses.

Between them they had earned many awards, including:

1.   GEORGE CROSS    Tracker Awang ak. Rawing.
2.   GEORGE MEDAL   Cpl Menggong ak. Panggit.
3.   MILITARY MEDAL   LCpl Sanggau ak. Janti.
4.   BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL    WO 2 Gou ak. Samada.
5.   MENTION IN DESPATCHES    23 of them were awarded.
6.   COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF'S CERTIFICATES     21 of the were awarded.

Continuing the Legacy
DON'T LET THIS ELITE UNIT DISAPPEAR. They must be revived to remind us of our illustrious past. Let it be a beacon and an example for our future generations to emuliate. The least we can do is to give it a new responsibiity. Create a new SARAWAK RANGERS that will perform ceremonial duties at official residences, offices, premises and other places of public interest. Give them uniforms that reflect their illustrious past and to add colour and dignity to Sarawak. 

Sarawak Rangers had had a long and illustrious history since its inception in 1862 by Rajah Charles Brooke. What they had done and achieved during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 were something that all Sarawakians must be proud of.

In the twelve years of fighting, they had a very low casualty figures - bearing in mind that they were always at the front most in all operations. They suffered only 21 KIA and 25 WIA.

In the process, they had made a name and a reputation as being the best trackers in the world and known for their bravery and prowess in the battle field.

This is a legacy that Sarawak must be proud of. This is the legacy that we must emulate. This is a legacy that we must not allow to disappear into the fold of the history book. We must keep it alive by re-forming it so that the present and the future generation will be reminded of what our fore fathers had achieved and with the hope that the future generations will strive to be better.

Members of the New Sarawak Rangers performing the ngajat welcoming dance.

In full traditional regalia

Another possibility of dress.

Update No. 1 (3 November 2011)
Had an appointment to see and brief YB Tan Sri James Masing today (3 Nov 11) to seek his advice and help to forward our plan to revive Sarawak Rangers as a ceremonial unit for Sarawak only.

He was supportive of the idea and would help bring the matter up to the highest attention. But first, we must get Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association registered vide Veterans Council which should be in force by December 2011.

At the same meeting we offered him as the Advisor to Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association which he accepted. We will follow this up officially with an offer letter.

Waiting for our turn to see YB Tan Sri James Masing. L to R:  Temenggong Datuk Kanang ak Langkau SP PGB, Capt Johari Ibrahim (Rtd), me Lt Col Robert Rizal Abdullah PGB (Rtd) and Capt Dr George Kurka (Rtd) and not in picture is Major Micheal Riman PGB (Rtd). 

Briefing and discussing the issue with the Minister.

After the meeting / discussion, I presented the Minister with a copy of my book, My Adventure.

1 comment:

  1. jd x molah sarawak ranger balit??? aku mok masok sarAWAk ranger!!!