Thursday, February 12, 2009


Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 marks the 87th anniversary of the fall Singapore to the Japanese during 2nd World War. It must have been a painful moment for Lt Gen Arthur Percival to present the instrument of surrender to Lt Gen Yamashita on Feb 15, 1942 in a somber ceremony on the island of Singapore.

I was only born a year later after the surrender, but I can recall some exciting stories from my parents as to how they had to survive during the Japanese invasion of Malaya, and their subsequent occupation, until their forced surrender in 1945 at the result of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There have been numerous books written on the war in Malaya, mostly by western writers. Likewise, there are also numerous book written about the 1st Malayan Emergency, and the Malaysian/Indonesian Confrontation. I have tried to be selective in my readings about all these events in books written by western authors. But there is little that I can do to avoid reading books written by such authors, since there are not too many written by Malaysian military historians.

I have this growing concern that the younger generation today have little inkling about the country’s past, more so with regards to the Japanese war in Malaya, Indonesian confrontation and the Malayan Emergency. These are significant historical events that had help shape the future of the country. Ignoring these pieces of the country’s history is likened to ignoring one’s ancestral origins, that is so dear by most people.

I am also equally concern that the younger generation of military officers today too have little inkling of the country’s past, especially those that are military related. Today, the officers and soldiers no longer roam the jungles to hunt down communist terrorist. The counter insurgency experience is now lost. They, I am told are stuck on some islands in Sabah, and strung along the eastern and western coastal areas of the peninsular to deter the arrival of illegal immigrants. This, I think should not be the primary role of the Army in particular, that they have been saddled with since 1997 or thereabout.

To the officers corps of the Armed Forces, they are constantly reminded of the adage that ‘history is known to repeat itself’. Wars can spark at any time and for various reasons. I am not implying here that we should go to war with someone, but the adage does remind the Armed Forces to be vigilant, and to be prepared for an eventuality.

There are many lessons that one can learn from wars and experience of the past, but the application of those lessons in today’s battlefield environment may require rethinking and readjustment. Sophistication in the military hardware’s has redefined new strategies and training, and this has to be fully understood, if our Armed Forces is to remain current and prepared.

The concept of single service warfare may no longer be relevant today; hence there is greater emphasis now towards a joint warfare doctrine. Therefore, the creation of a Joint Force HQ by the Malaysian Armed Forces recently, I think is apt.

The onus now lies in our military leadership to develop new mindsets, new and innovative training strategies, renewed organizational structures, defined roles and responsibilities that are all in congruent with the requirements of the our country’s defence strategy.

The strength in our Armed Forces lies not solely in the hardware’s that it possesses, but in the correct mix and proper utilization of those military hardware’s of the three armed services. And more importantly, the lessons learned from our military history in the fight against the insurgents,confrontation and the 2nd WW should never be lost.

Posted at 12.30 pm Feb 11, 2009


spudhoo said...

Arshad, this is Chan here and if you can recollect I used to spend a fair bit of time with your brother Adnan. Fond memories of your parents. Your mother was a very good cook. I wonder if you can get me Adnan's phone numbers. I have lost touch of him since I moved to settle in Australia. My email address is Have been reading your articles a fair bit. Good work . Fond regards Chan

maurice said...

I am afraid the strength of our Armed Forces does not only lies in the correct mix of its weapon systems and manpower alone but also in our ability to mobilize the country to support the Armed Forces in times of conflict.Without the latter, the Armed Forces alone cannot do much.

We have seen how the Japanese Army drove the British military out of Malaya with ease due to the Colonial Government's unwllingness to mobilize the local population to support their war effort against the Japanese invasion

As for us, the question to ask: Do we have the required mobilization plans in place to prepare the people for such exigencies?

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

I note your comment concerning the nation's ability to mobilize its people in support of the AF in times of conflict. It is worth a study.....something that affects us all.