On Tuesday September 29th 2009, PM Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak announced at a Hari Raya gathering with soldiers at Port Dickson that the town will be named ‘Port Dickson the Army Town’. My spontaneous response to this announcement is thank you and no thanks, and having to make the announcement on the same day as the naming of Isa Samad as the BN candidate for the up-coming Bagan Pinang by-election, makes it so obvious that the pronouncement is an election gimmick. I do not know what other ‘goodies’ will be announced following the renaming of Port Dickson.
This is the perception that I get and please do not blame me for this, and I suppose many others would have a similar perception. How does this pronouncement impact upon the soldiers, knowing full well that Port Dickson have been synonymous with the army since the formation of the first experimental company of the Royal Malay Regiment on March 1st 1933, and the subsequent expansion of the regiment to form the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment. In fact the army has its roots in Port Dickson, and thousands of the soldiers children were born in Port Dickson. I too served in Port Dickson in 1976 and we had our youngest child that year.
Having talked to some old army friends who have fond memories and affiliation with Port Dickson, either as a result of their marriage with the ladies of the town, or having some of their children born at Port Dickson, have preferred that the town be named Bandar Askar Melayu Diraja, as opposed the Army Town (Bandar Tentera Darat) as announced by PM Najib. They argued that the birth place of the Royal Malay Regiment is in Port Dickson and the army blossomed out of this regiment.
There was also a suggestion that Port Dickson be named after an outstanding and renowned soldier of the Royal Malay Regiment who had sacrificed his life in battle, and a name like Lieutenant Adnan Saidi comes to mind. Another suggestion would be to name the town after one of the Malay Rulers who had been instrumental in furthering the cause for the establishment of the regiment to the British colonialist in the late 1920’s.
If at all the Defence Ministry finds it necessary to name a particular town or place that is historically link with the army, then the town of Sg. Besi should be named Bandar Tentera Darat.
Sg. Besi town grew out of a British Military Garrison soon after the Second World War and it was active as a base for British troops during the First Malayan Emergency. Remnants of the garrison can still be found close to the Chinese grave yard. The town is well known to most military officers, particularly those of the army for this was where they were trained as army cadets, and who later graduated to become army officers.
Presently, Sg Besi is home to the several army units/formation and military training establishment, notably the Headquarters Army Field Command, Army Institute for Communications, Army School of Music, Malaysian National Defence University and the famous Royal Military College.
I do hope that the suggestions brought forth in this article will be given due thought and consideration by the Defence Ministry in its effort to promote and to give due credence to the Malaysian Armed Forces.
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