Friday, 14 October 2011

Forming Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association (SRVA)

There are too many sad tales about the ex servicemen in Sarawak. I do not want to mention the  predicaments of ex servicemen in Peninsula Malaysia as my effort is directed towards Sarawak only. Someone may ask me: Why Sarawak only? This is because all my works from the very beginning had started with the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers. I have heard and seen how they fared after they had left the service. Many are living below the poverty line. Many are eking a living and find it hard to make ends meet.

I came to a conclusion that forming SRVA will be the most noble thing I could ever think of. We plan to make money through honest means - engaging in legal business activities. We do not want to beg for money and funds.

These money will be used to raise the standard of living of the veterans and their families. The details are spelt out in SRVA's Constitution.

Though priority will be given to the Sarawak and Malaysian Rangers, we feel we should not neglect the other Sarawak veterans from other Corps. They can apply to be members as well but they will not have any voting rights. We have not thrashed out the details of what they are entitled or not entitled to.

We had formed a protem committee and had had the first meeting on 19 September 2011 with me as the protem President, Capt Dr. George Kurka as the Deputy President, Capt Johari Ibrahim as the Secretary General and Major Micheal Riman as the Treasury General.

After the meeting we held a press conference.

The Borneo Post of 20 September 2011 carried our messages.

Immediately after my return from Sarawak on 27 September 2011, I wrote to YAB Pehin Sri Abdul Taib and YB Tan Sri Alfred Jabu to seek an appointment to see them on two things:

1.   Reviving the Sarawak Rangers.

2.   Formation of the Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association.

The first may take sometime and with more efforts, while as the second (SRVA) is on the way to being registered with ROS.

Update No. 1 (28 October 2011)
I have an appointment with Senior Minister YB Tan Sri James Masing who had been supporting my moves in this issue on 3 November 2011. I tried to get dates to see the CM and DCM but they are busy and very much tied up.

I have prepared the necessary proposal paper on the proposal to revive Sarawak Rangers and formation of Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association.

I hope to impress on YB Tan Sri James Masing to help me push the idea to the highest level.

Update No. 2 (3 November 2011)
As planned, I met YB Tan Sri James Masing in his Ministry on 3 November 2011. We had a fruitful discussion. I briefed him on my two plans:

1.     Formation of Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association, which will be registered through the new Veterans Act / Council which was recently tabled in Parliament and now awaiting for the final endorsement by DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong - most likely in December 2011. That is why we do not want to have it registered through ROS, as it would mean we would have to re-register it again with the Veterans Council later.

         The Association has already been accepted by the Ministry of Defence even though it is functioning under its protem committee. It was brought to my attention that some former members of the Sarawak Rangers questioned our rights in forming SRVA. As we are members of the Malaysian Rangers and not Sarawak Rangers, we shouldn't call our Association by that name. Name aside, the Association will strive to serve ALL SERVICEMEN, including ex- Iban Trackers, ex- Sarawak Rangers, ex- Malaysian Rangers, other ex-servicemen from the other Corps and their immediate family members. This is spelt out in our Constitution. I used the term "Sarawak Rangers" because we want to honour and respect them for the sacrifices that they had made to this nation of ours.  

2.      The revival of Sarawak Rangers.   In my proposal paper, I based the organisation of the New Sarawak Rangers on a  standard Infantry Battalion. We know, asking for a Battalon is too much. It is up to the State to determine the size of the Unit it can afford ot sustain.  

          The Minister voiced his opinion that he like the idea of retaining the tracking skills it was famous for. This will be an aspect that will be considered. I have touched on the roles that the New Sarawak Rangers can play in.

Meeting Minister YB Tan Sri James Masing in his Ministry.
L to R:  WO 1 (Rtd) Temenggong Datuk Kanang ak Langkau SP PGB, Lt Col (Rtd) Robert Rizal Abdullah PGB, YB Tan Sri James Masing, Captain (Rtd) Johari Ibrahim and Captain (Rtd) Cr George Kurka.

I presented my book to the Minister

Update No. 3 (4 November 2011)
The next day, 4 November 2011, I had my second meeting to fine-tune the SRVA.

Commander 9 Brigade (right), Brig Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw (the first Iban General) in attendance.

To my right is Secretary General Capt (Rtd) Hj Johari Ibrahim, Temenggong Datuk Kanang ak. Langkau SP, PGB and Major (Rtd) Kahar.

L to R:  Brig Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw (in attendance only), Commander 9 Brigade, Capt Dr George Kurka, Deputy President of SRVA.
At the other end of the table is Major (Rtd) Micheal Riman PGB

       L to R:  Warrant Officer 1 (Rtd) Adi Jala, Major (Rtd) Kahar, me, Brig Gen Datuk Stephen Mundaw, Capt (Rtd) Hj Johari Ibrahim, WO 1 (Rtd) Temenggong Kanang ak. Langkau SP, PGB and Capt Dr George Kurka.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Good Winds of Change in Sarawak.

There are visibly good winds of change blowing in Sarawak now. I hope it brings about some permanent change and not the seasonal, brought about by the coming General Election which is just around the corner.

Since I initiated Op Ngerapuh / Op Mai Pulai, an operation to bring home remains of the 21 Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers KIA in Malaya, back to their homeland in Sarawak, the public, at large, are more aware of the sacrifices the Ibans had made in the Malayan Emergency. When before, they were unknown to most, now they have become a talking point at coffee shops and kopitiams. The State and the Federal governments are now heeding the mounting calls and requests from the many veterans association in Sarawak to recognise and value the services the veterans had rendered to the Country by giving back what were due to them..

Below are some of the points highlighted in the Borneo Post of 11 October 2011, an English language daily in Sarawak.

The ex-Iban Trackers and ex-Sarawak Rangers will not be forgotten for the one-time payment of RM3000.00 by the government, in appreciation of their services during the Malayan Emergency 1948 - 1960.

At last, a pledge that more Sarawakians will hold senior ranks and appointment in the Malaysian Army. But first, more Sarawakians must be wooed to join.

YB Tan Sri James Masing, the senior minister for Land Development had been fully suportive of my plans to re-form the Sarawak Rangers and the Sarawak Rangers Veterans Association which I'm forming to help raise the quality of lives of the ex Trackers, ex Sarawak Rangers, ex Malaysian Rangers and other Sarawak veterans as well. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tracking the Trackers up the Mighty Rejang River.

General Datuk Stephen Mundaw called me one day. Would I like to join his team on a trip up the Rejang River? I can do my search for the Trackers.

That was the chance I had been waiting for and I wouldn't like to miss it for all the world. That was a golden opportunity too for the Documentary Film team to make the last phase of their shooting. I called Kamaruddin the Director, of the plan. He agreed at the very last minute but will follow at a later date.

As usual, I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. It is not easy for me to make a trip to Kuching. It is always governed by financial availability. I wanted to follow up on what I had suggested in my speech during the reburial ceremony of the remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers KIA in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency 1948-1960 - the revival of the Sarawak Rangers and another idea that had just cropped up from discussions with friends, i.e. forming up a Sarawak Rangers Veteran Association (SRVA).
SRVA aims to be a business-orientated association. We intend to make money and we intend to use it for the good of these veterans and their families.

I flew down to Kuching on Sunday,18 September 2011.

On Monday, 19 September 2011 I held a meeting with my SRVA protem Committee Members At about 1700 hours on the same day, I flew to Sibu. Gen Datuk Stephen was kind enough to provide me with an accomodation in his Officers Mess. I didn't have the time to use the Mess facilities as I arrived at night and left early the next day for Kapit. The VIP room was excellent.

My express boat left the Express Boat Terminal in Sibu town at 8 a.m sharp. Good thing I left the Officers Mess at 7 a.m. It was a good 30 minutes drive. I had enough time for breakfast in town with Major Ding, 3rd Rangers Second-In-Command. He was to be my guide throughout my trip to Ulu Rejang. His primary duty was actually in charge of his Rafting team that would be taking part in the annual rafting competition in Ulu Rejang.

The journey upriver took about 3 1/2 hours at RM40.00.

The Express Boat was fast. It could easily be 50mph.

Ships like this was a common sight going up or down the Rejang River, empty or ladened with logs.

We passed the awesome Durin bridge spanning the Rejang River.

Logging activities by the river.

More logging activities. This is one of the major contributory factors that turned the Rejang River into a murky, heavily silted and pulluted river.

The result:  polluted and floating logs that are dangerous to boats plying the river.

(To be continued)