Monday, December 15, 2008


I wish to refer to an article by Adrian David titled ‘Denied her pension by the rule book’ published in NST (page 20) dated December 15, 2008.

Most retired military officers today would have known the late Brig Gen Victor Nelson Stevenson who joined the Army in 1952, and served the nation with unquestionable loyalty for almost 32 years. He saw the Malayan Emergency, Confrontation and the return of the Communist insurgency threat from 1969, until their eventual surrender in the late 80’s. To most who have known and served him, Gen Stevenson portrays a fatherly figure and a gentleman, and it is hard for anyone to dislike him.

Gen Stevenson is not alone serving the Army. He comes from a family where the uniform service is a preferred vocation, and this preferred vocation among the younger family members seems to continue till this day. I am indeed honoured to have known Gen Stevenson, and to have served together with his younger brother, Brig Gen Datuk Dr. William Stevenson at the Army Combat Training Centre, Ulu Tiram, Johore in the 80’s.

The article by Adrian David, brings to light the ‘misfortune’ that befalls the widow of Gen Stevenson, Janet Shaxson who not out of her own free will, was denied her late husband’s pension, for reasons that she had left the country for England, for a period exceeding 180 days, thus losing the eligibility to continue receiving the pension.

Janet Shaxson’s failure to return to Malaysia has its reason i.e. that she was bedridden with cancer and finally succumbed to her illness in November this year. Her case is well known to the office of the Malaysian High Commission in England, and with a medical report to prove.

For the Armed Forces Veteran’s Affairs Department (AFVAD) to disregard the truth, and to ignore the humanitarian aspects of the case, puts the department to absolute shame; something that ought not to be forgiven. There has to be some flexibility in the rules and procedures governing the Janet Shaxson’s case. Throwing the books and closing the case, is certainly not the answer.

If at all AFVAD sees no reason to respect Janet Shaxson’s entitlement to the pension, the least that AFVAD could do is to respect the services rendered by the late Gen Stevenson to his nation. And being an ex serviceman myself, I am extremely concern and fearful that a similar fate will befall my family and many others.

Posted at 12.30pm on Dec 15, 2008


maurice said...

Pak Chat,

I don't think AFVAD is responsible for making the decison on Janet Shaxson's pension.It should be Jabatan Rekod dan Pencen at Mindef.

Would like to know whether the recent statement by Minister Nadzri has any bearing on this case.He has said the Pension Regulations have been amended to allow a pensioner to receive his/her pension even though living out of the country.

Nochan said...

My coments on this subject appeared in NST as follows:

Loss of Pension: Be more flexible over payment

IT is sad that the widow of Brig-Gen (Rtd) Victor Nelson Stevenson had her pension terminated in her golden years just because someone in the Veterans' Affairs Department chose to follow the letter rather than the spirit of the pension regulations ("Denied her pension by the rule book" -- NST, Dec 15).

Please allow me to quote from memory a case where the widow of an army officer was granted a pension based on compassion. This occurred in 1973 when I was serving as staff officer 2 in the Armed Forces Council in the Ministry of Defence.

A short-service commissioned quartermaster from the Malaysian Signals Regiment, holding the rank of captain, died in service. The rule stated only regular commissioned officers are entitled to pensions.

When the case came to my attention, I realised that his case did not meet the requirements as stipulated in the regulations to enable his widow to get the husband's pension. However, he had served the army in another rank for almost 20 years and left behind a wife with eight children.

On my advice, a letter was written recommending a regular commission backdated several months before his death.
The Armed Forces Council, when briefed on the details of the officer, was most sympathetic and did not any raise any objections at all to the granting of a regular commission. This enabled the wife to receive her late husband's hard-earned pension, thus lessening her financial burden in bringing up her children.

I do hope and pray that the authorities responsible for the termination of the pension to Janet Shaxson Stevenson take note of a historical precedent where rules and regulations were used as a guide in decision-making besides taking into consideration the human emotions involved.

tiongsinwee said...

It's so so sad to hear of such case befalling one of our VETERANS. N this is one among the hundreds that's been 'swept under the carpet' to say.
As ur much informed, the welfare of our ex-servicemen are somewhat under the wings of both the Persatuan Bekas Tentera Malaysia (PBTM) and Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran (JHEV).
Both these entities were created mainly to look after the welfare of our ex-servicemen. But, ironically, both these bodies have their own boses; rules n regulations, etc.
From my point of view....they should be 'housed under one roof' that all problems pertaining to our VETERANS can be tackled and coordinated more effectively by one body. But, unfortunately its not. Both these bodies/entities are trying to outdo each other....untuk dapat nama lah! Yang jadi mangsa....kita bekas tentera!
These entities were formed mainly to assist our VETERANS, right? Instead....they are not compassionate,but rather too rigid on rules and much so that applications for assistance wd be flatly rejected, even if its only two weeks late.