Friday, August 1, 2008


Recently, I have been informed that there is now an attempt by some retired military officers to document their experiences and personal involvement during the racial riots of May 13, 1969. I believe, the outcome of this document will reveal to the public, the entire May 13 episode from the perspective of the military, of which the public has very little knowledge. It will be interesting to see how the public will react to this revelation.

Every Malaysian who were witnessed to this tragic incident dubbed as the darkest spot in our history, will vouched never to witness such an orgy of killing and destruction again. For those who had lost their loved ones, the tragedy would not be easily forgotten, and it will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But following the tragedy, Malaysians today has become more tolerant of each other, and accepts that the diversity in our society is unique. Such diversity shall remain so for many more generations to come.

I was not involved in the pubic order operations during May 13, because I was than serving in Tawau, Sabah. Tawau had no TV than, and we relied entirely on the local dailies for news concerning the tragic events looming in Kuala Lumpur. Even making a phone call to my parents who were residing in Datuk Keramat was difficult. In fact, I never got to call them at all.

I believe, what will come out of the document, written by retired military officers who were at the frontline of the entire tragedy, will serve as an important lesson for all, and in particular to our national leaders ‘that the use of the Armed Forces in public order duties, must be made with full responsibility, accountability and complete restraint’, a view that I have always held throughout my military years.

We hope to see many more military officers write their military experiences or memoirs, that will be useful reading for the future generation of military officers. Gen Tun Ibrahim Ismail (retired) who now has two published books to his credit, Gen Tan Sri Hashim Hussein (retired) and Maj Gen Dato Nordin Yusof (retired) with one published book each, and few others have set the pace for more books to be published by military officers in the future.


maurice said...

I would also like to suggest the Army (government) commission professional historian(s)to write the history of the Malaysian Army.It should become the official document of the history of the Army.It could be written in parts, covering the early period of WW2 to Independence, Confrontation, War against CPM, May 13, UN Peacekeeping Missions etc.

The British Army history is well documented, written by well-known historians appointed and paid for by HM Government.

Likewise I think our government will only be too happy to support it.Hope the Army leadership could do something about this.It is still not too late to make a start.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

I fully support your view. However, I find it difficult to get our officers to write, and I know some of them has the ability to write. It will be a waste if our military history is not documented, and the only reference our future generation will get are from those written by others.

captazhar said...

I, for one, have serious doubts that our Armed Forces have neither the aptitude or the right attitude towards our history to properly document it. The lackadaisical attitude towards the preservation of material; photographic, written, electronic in any form is appalling.

In the end of the day, history is being 'rewritten' by those in power to suit their own selfish needs.

Justice said...

Thank you captazhar for your very discerning comments and I believe you have very correctly identified the question of aptitude,attitude and the lack of intellectual honesty within the ATM.
History is always written by the winners be it in education, social,religious or political matters.
This is why we have such poor reading habits, cannot grasp critical thinking, follow the herd mentality to survive and fear dissent.
captazhar you are a gem.

maurice said...

Dear Arshadraji,

Officers of course could write (document) their own experience about a particular military operation etc.They should not be asked to write the history of the Malaysian Army from a historical perspective.They do not have the training to undertake the mammoth task.

The history of the Malaysian Army must be written by professional historians who have the necessary discipline to interpret politico-socio-economic-miltary events etc.It is the government which should undertake this task.

Hope you could do something about this.

Anonymous said...

Dato Arshad,
I didnt know that historian who has no battle experience or exposure could write well about military history as suggested by our ex I believe.Come what may, who cares or give a damn about Military history in Malaysia . Look at what happen to the books written by our only serve to fill the rack....a waste of time.
(Jangan marah nanti cepat tua)

maurice said...

I would like to quote the following statement from Drrafick " Freedom of expression has a price. Use the freedom with respect and exercise responsibility. Speak your mind if whatever you think has basis."