I attended a breakfast gathering of retired officers of the Armed Forces this morning at a restaurant in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur. The range includes retirees from the rank of Major to a Four Star General. Formalities were thrown out of the window, and everyone had some exciting stories to tell that generally centered around the happenings in the Armed Forces today. Some of the attendees had left the service for more than two decades, but yet they recall how proud they were to have served the Armed Forces.
Among the issues discussed that immediately struck my interest is regarding the closure of the Armed Forces museum that was located within the Mindef complex. I had visited the museum several times before, and I am surprised that it no longer exist. I began to question the reason why was it closed, and what will be the fate of the museum that had a fine collection of historical artifacts of military interest? I recalled seeing a complete uniform of the former Chief of Defence Force Gen Tun Ibrahim Ismail on display, but could not remember seeing it on display at the Army Museum at Port Dickson.
To me the uniform of Gen Tun Ibrahim Ismail is significant, as he is the sole surviving military officer who had seen service during World War 2, the Malayan Emergency and Malaysian/Indonesian Confrontation. He is still very much alive today, and I think he would be extremely upset if he knows that his uniform is no longer on display at the Armed Forces museum.
I then started to do a 'search' with regards to the history of the Armed Forces museum, and the reason for its disclosure.
The Armed Forces museum was first mooted by Gen Tan Sri Ghazali Seth who was then the CDF back in later part of 1980's, supposedly out of his own personal interest to bring back and relive the history of the Armed Forces for future generation. The museum started in an officers quarters located along Lorong Kubu in the Mindef camp complex. If I could recall, retired Brig Gen Dato Kalam Azad was involved in the initial setting up of the museum, and the first museum curator was the late Lt Kol Nik Ibrahim who in 1978 was a student with me at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College. The museum later moved to its new location next to the main Mindef office complex, and the museum have attracted thousands of visitors; foreign and locals.
Sometime early this year, an instruction for the closure of the Armed Forces museum was issued, reportedly from the office of the CDF. I am told that the site where the museum is located is to be used for the construction of a new complex for the Armed Forces Court Martial Center (I think something similar to the Palace of Justice). The person that I had talked to, is not able to confirm whether there was any plan to built a new Armed Forces museum to replace the existing one.
In view of the construction of the Court Martial Center, all museum artifacts were distributed to the three services for them to display at their respective museums. I do not know if the Air Force and the Navy has its own museum.
Seriously, I am puzzled as to what was in the mind of the powers that be, to have send the Armed Forces museum to its grave. Once again, the ignorance of history and the love to perpetuate it, clearly is absent in the heart and mind of who-so-ever made the decision to close the museum. Much money that has been spent to raise and develop the museum, has now gone to waste through sheer ignorance and a disregard for history.
Or was the decision to close the museum and construct the Armed Forces Court Martial Center motivated by something else, other than solely for military interest and professionalism? I put this question to the present leadership of the Armed Forces, with the hope that the question is answered and to put to rest the concern and doubts that are in the minds of all Armed Forces retirees concerning this matter.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION