I have just received an SMS from a former colleague informing me that 6 Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment will be receiving its new regimental colours on August 15, 2008. The battalion is presently based in Kepala Batas, Alor Star, Kedah.
Back in 80's, the base was occupied by 9 Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment, of which I was its Commanding Officer for two years, from 1980 until 1982. In the 80's, most infantry battalions could hardly find time to be in base, long enough for its soldiers to be with their families. In the case of my battalion, we were deployed on operations for a period of three months at a time, with a three months break, and back again on operations for another three months. This was the routine, and even when the battalion was in base, there were other activities that the battalion had to undertake eg. battalion retraining, formation exercises and sporting activities.
6 Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment was my first battalion that I was posted to, upon completing my officers cadet training at the Royal Military College in 1966. The battalion was then based in Kluang, Johore, and the Commanding Officer was Lt Col Mokhti Jabar (died in service in 1978 in the rank of Colonel). I was detailed to B Company as a platoon commander, and its Officer Commanding was Maj Dahalan Sulaiman (retired in the rank of Major General).
I believe, the new regimental colours that 6 Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment will be receiving is the third. The original regimental colours which was presented to the battalion during the British Colonial period was destroyed during a fire of a storehouse at HQ 5 Brigade, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in 1969. I could remember the burning incident, because I was then the adjutant of the battalion based in Tawau, Sabah. The regimental colours was kept in transit at the storehouse, and was to be flown back to Tawau, after a parade held in Kuching, Sarawak. The accompanying officer was one Capt Badaruddin Yassin.
I also wish to relate a bad experience that I had with the regimental colours. In 1967, I was assigned to be the colour ensign at the Merdeka Parade held in Kuala Lumpur. Being the colour ensign, I was given the responsibility to care for safety of the regimental colours. The battalion regimental HQ was then based in Labuan, Sabah.
After the parade, I directed the colour escorts to store the regimental colours at Batu Cantoment Camp, and to bring it back to Sg. Besi Air Force Base the following morning for our return flight to Labuan.
Upon my arrival at Sg. Besi Air Force Base that morning, I realised that my name had been deleted from the passengers manifest list. The reason they gave was that I was late, and my seat had been given to someone else. However, the colour escorts who had arrived much earlier, had managed to secure their return seats, and had safely loaded the regimental colours into the aircraft. What I did not realised was that my Commanding Officer was also on the same fight to Labuan that morning, and upon seeing him, I told him that I could not return to Labuan with him, because I no longer have a seat in the aircraft, and will only return to Labuan the next day. He did not say a word, and I knew he was angry at me for being late.
The following day, I arrived at Sg. Besi Air Force Base, and this time I was early. During the flight back, I was restless, and I know that I will be punished upon my return to Labuan. I had broken a sacred rule, that I as the colour ensign, should have at all times, to be with the regimental colours. In this instance, the regimental colours had flown out without me.
Upon my arrival at Labuan, I was greeted by the adjutant, Capt Zainal Che Dan, and the first thing that come out of him was that, I have been ordered to do a 30 days duty officer starting the day I arrived Labuan. I wasn't shocked at the pronouncement, for I clearly deserve the punishment. The next 30 days was a 'harrowing experience' for me, because I had to be in my uniform every minute of the day, and to be sleeping in the Duty Officers Room.