I was in Johor Bahru a few months ago, and on my way to Kota Tinggi, I decided to stop at PULADA, the army's once prestigious jungle warfare training center. My reason for stopping at the training center was to catch a glimpse of an old friend and canteen operator Mr. Goh Da Dee. They say that PULADA is synonymous and is as old as Mr. Goh, and if one wants to know the history of the training center, just ask Mr. Goh.
PULADA is a legacy of the British, constructed in the late 40's or early 50's, and was the home of the British Commando Regiment. Besides, it was also a center for jungle warfare training and to acclimatise British soldiers that had recently arrived from the UK, to the Malayan enviornment. If one were to read the book on the infamous General Aidi Amin, he was said to have been send by the British for training at the center.
I had not been into PULADA for almost a decade, and was anxious to see the training center that I had served twice as a staff, once again. As I drove pass the Guard Room, I felt that I was still in the 70's, when I first attended my All Arms Tactics Course. In other words, many things have not changed. Most of the wooded buildings are in a dilapidated state, and if there was any new structures being added, their designs are certainly not contemporary, but ones that fits into the era of the 80's.
I remembered that in the late 80's, there was talk that the center was to be handed back to the Johore government, and PULADA was to be moved to Gemas, Negeri Sembilan. Hence all development plans for the center had to be shelved. That was more than two decades ago, and PULADA has still not moved. Now they say that PULADA will remain where it is, and grand plans to rebuild the center is underway. But my hunch says that this grand plan, if ever there was one, will never materialised .
The problem with army is that they are highly inconsistent in planning, and when there is a change in the leadership, the planning and priorities changes. I dare say that whims and fancies rules, and the attitude that “I know better what to do then others”, reigns the day. This inconsistency is even more obvious and rampant in the purchase of equipments for the army, and I prefer not to dwell more of this subject, least I may offend the leadership.
I did describe my horrific visit to PULADA to a friend of mine who had served with me in PULADA, and his simple answer was, “just cancel the purchase of the third regiment of MLRS worth 2 billion and throw it into PULADA”. That simple answer strikes me to be true, and rebuilding a modern PULADA does not even cost half that of the third regiment MLRS. And does the army really need three regiments of MLRS in the first instant?
Training is an essential part of a soldiers (officers included) career development. PULADA essentially does that. And if one were to make a comparison of PULADA with that of the training centers build for the civil service, PULADA could easily be described that of a chicken coop. And if I, an army retiree felt the shame and humiliation of seeing the dilapidated state of the once prestigious jungle warfare training center, I honestly not know what the army officers of today feels about the center. I hope the answer is not puzzling.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 11 pm on April 10, 2009