Since leaving the Armed Forces in 1998, I have been reminded consistently to join the Persatuan Bekas Tentera Malayisa (PBTM) or the Ex-Service Association of Malaysia. I had in fact been given the application form prior to my retirement, but after 10 years, I am still not convince that PBTM is the organisation that I would like to be associated with.
My reason for avoiding PBTM is simply that, I do not see the relevance and sincerity of the association in looking at the affairs of ex-servicemen. While the aim and purpose of PTBM, as stipulated in the association's constitution is noble, there is nothing visible that PTBM has demonstrated, that truly benefit its members.
I am told that the association had been offered by the government in a platter, several projects and including chunks of land for development. Sadly, incompetence has resulted in the failure of almost all projects. I am also told that a plot of land belonging to the association was sold, and the cash derived was not taken into PTBM's accounts. If this is true, then those involved are no better than cowardly thieves.
PTBM currently has almost 150,000 members, out of a total of almost 400,000 ex-servicemen. It is then one of the largest association (in terms of membership) in the country. But sadly, it is also one of the poorest. Reports have it that at the last Warrior's Day, the monetary contribution received from the private sector was virtually zero. I was also informed that the donors that presented their mock cheques that day to the PM's wife, was actually from a single donor. This need to be verified by the members themselves, and if it is found to be true, I deemed it a most shameful act on the part of PTBM. Members need also to ask, why has the response from the private sector been lukewarm? Surely, there are many private companies that has had business dealings with the Ministry of Defence, but where are they this time around?
I have been privy to PTBM's constitution for quite a while now. Interestingly, there are a number of Articles in the constitution that runs contrary to the principals of natural justice over matters of discipline, that seemingly protects the misconduct of its Supreme Working Committee, and conversely, denies the rights of its members. Articles in reference are Articles 36c,36h, 43 and 44 which stipulates as under:
'Tanpa menghiraukan apa-apa peruntukan lain dalam Perlembagaan ini, seseorang ahli atau pihak dalam Persatuan yang membawa apa-apa jua perkara Persatuan atau mengenai hak keahliannya ke Mahkamah, membuat laporan terus kepada Polis, Badan Pencegah Rasuah atau lain-lain pihak berkuasa atau media massa (cetak dan alektronik), terhadap Persatuan atau Ahli-Ahli dalam Jawatankuasa Persatuan di mana-mana peringkat sebelum mematuhi sepenuhnya Peraturan-Peraturan Persatuan, maka keahliannya dalam Persatuan gugur dengan sendirinya'.
'Sebarang keputusan Jawatankuasa Kerja Tertinggi mengenai dispilin, tataetika dan/atau penyelesaian ke atas sebarang perkara atau masalah Persatuan adalah muktamad. Mahkamah tidak boleh diminta menerima atau membuat keputusan mengenai dispilin, tataetika dan/atau penyelesaian perkara-perkara atau masalah dalaman Persatuan dan/atau perkara-perkara Peraturan bersabitan Pentadbiran dan Pengurusan Persatuan'.
'Jawatankuasa Kerja Tertinggi berkuasa menetap, membuat menggubal dan meminda, dari masa ke semasa, Peraturan-Peraturan Pentadbiran dan Pengurusan untuk melaksanakan kehendak Perlembagaan dan/atau Peraturan-Peraturan lain bagi menentukan kesempurnaan perjalanan Persatuan'.
'Jika berbangkit sebarang perselisihan di atas tafsiran Perlembagaan ini atau Peraturan Persidangan Perwakilan Negara atau Peraturan-Peraturan lain yang dibuat dibawah kuasanya, maka tafsiran yang diberikan oleh Jawatankuasa Kerja Tertinggi adalah muktamad'.
The above Articles clearly accord sweeping powers to the Supreme Working Committee, quite unheard of in associations that are similar to PTBM. I sense there is gross error in the authorities that sanctioned the constitution, namely the Registrar of Societies. Or was it a deliberate attempt to accord such powers to the Supreme Working Committee? For a moment, I thought I was reading the UMNO constitution, for there is a similarity? Surely, there is now a serious need to reconsider the prevailing 'discrepancies' noted in the constitution, by its existing members.
The failures in PTBM are numerous; otherwise the association will not be what it is today. I hasten to guess that there are acute problems within PTBM, notably in the chain of leadership at all levels. An essential criteria in the selection of leaders within the association's hierarchy is one that requires its members to be free of politics. Another is that, he should not indulge in private business, to avoid the temptation of using the association as a platform to enrich his own private business interest. This has been the bane in many associations, resulting in the association having to suffer consequent losses in the end.
I believe, what is causing the problem in PTBM is poor and incompetent leadership. And I can vouch, that the ex-service does not lack able and competent leaders who can lead the association to greater heights. I also believe that the reason why many ex-service shy themselves from the association, is the sheer bickering among members, and the imposing power and authority by the current leadership.
For the moment, I do not see myself wanting to be a member, but I suppose my attitude will change, if I see positive changes for the better among the leadership, and the association.