Friday, April 30, 2010


Yesterday, April 29th 2010, I attended the ‘Reunion of Former Officers’ of 15th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment, who had served the battalion during the era of the 70’s, held at KGPA. The battalion was formally established in August 1969 at Rasah Camp, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan; in the same camp that was the home of the British Gurkha Brigade.

The first CO of the battalion was Lt Col Othman Harun (retired in the rank of Lt Gen) who was himself present at the function, and including the third CO Lt Col Ismail Salleh PGB (retired in the rank of Colonel). The second CO Lt Col Abd Rahman Lassim (retired in the rank of Colonel) was however not able to attend the function. All three were the COs of the battalion during the era of the 70’s, with Lt Col Abd Rahman Lassim being the longest serving CO; reportedly for a period of 5 years.

Also making an appearance at the function was the first Battalion Second in Command, Mej Nordin Yusoff (retired in the rank of Maj Gen) and the first group of Company Commanders and battalion staff officers. In all, there were a total of 32 former officers that attended the function (including three serving officers) from a total of 78 that were listed. We were also informed that a total of 6 officers of the era are now deceased.

One may recall that it was also towards the end of the 60’s, the British government had initiated a policy to withdraw all its forces ‘East of the Suez’. Hence, we saw all British occupied camps in Kedah, Johore, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Malacca were gradually handed over to the Malaysian government to be occupied by the military.

I remembered, as a staff officer of the newly raised 6 Brigade HQ, I was a party to the takeover of the two Gurkha Camps in Sg. Petani, Kedah, and including Minden Barracks (presently USM) in Penang island; the latter camp was subsequently handed over to the Education Ministry. The British vacated the camps leaving behind stacks of furniture, carpets and even some cutleries; some were later taken into stock, and some ‘disappeared’.

Now, the above reunion function was held for the first time, organised by an inspiring group of retirees led by its Advisor Col Ismail Salleh and a committee of 7 retired officers. Through the effort of Lt Col Noor Mohammed and his committee, they were able to obtain and compiled details of almost all former officers that had served the battalion during the era of the 70’s in a simple booklet. There are still a handful of former officers that could not be traced, as their records are not available with the Veteran Affairs Department.

I was thoroughly pleased to have met my former superiors, and almost all my platoon commanders who have all passed the ‘century mark’. I would say that I was one of the longest serving officers of the battalion i.e. 5 years, and during that period I had the opportunity of commanding three different rifle companies. Being long in the battalion, I could master the names of almost every soldier in the battalion, and some are still in touch with me. I could also feel that those present at the function have not lost their soldierly spirit, their sense of loyalty to one another, and the spirit de corps; true to the saying that ‘the friendship among soldiers are for a life time’.

Following lunch, the stage was taken over by Lt Col Noor Mohammed who spoke at length of having served all the three COs, and the peculiarity and idiosyncrasy that he found in each one of them. It was all said in jest, and it was meant to reminisce how the subordinate officers viewed their ‘bosses’.

One may also recall that the period of the 70’s were the most trying period for the army as it was the period of the revival of the communist insurgency. It is quite normal for a battalion after having been out on operations for a three months period, would only be rested for less than a month, before the battalion is recalled back into operations. There are many stories and incidences that one could relate, particularly with regards to the command proficiency and ability of COs during military operations. The period of the 70’s was indeed a period where COs were tested to the limits, and when a contact with the communist was made, one could see the flurry of activities surrounding the HQ, including the sudden arrival of officers from higher HQ. Lt Col Noor Mohammed was able to reminisce some of such incidences, where many may have already forgotten.

Present too at the function was retired Lt Col Abd Manaf Kasmuri, a former officer of the battalion and also a former ISA detainee, who gave an exposition of his involvement with the Bosnian forces during the Bosnian conflict. His involvement in Bosnia was one of Jihad, and he never felt that his actions were that of a terrorist as claimed. The perception that a ‘Jihadist’ is synonymous to a ‘terrorist’ is merely a western creation; and definitely not one of a Muslim perception. His arrest, and subsequently his incarceration for a period of 3 years as an ISA detainee by the Malaysian authorities upon his return from Bosnia, can thus be debated. The question that needs to be asked is whether Lt Col Abd Manaf Kasmuri was rightfully detained for being a ‘terrorist’, or wrongfully detained for being a ‘Jihadist’.

The final speaker to address the gathering was the first CO, retired Mej Gen Dato’ Othman Harun who delved on some historical perspective of the creation of the Royal Malay Regiment, in particular with regards to what is termed as the ‘Wasiat Raja Raja Melayu’. Sadly, I am not well converse with the subject while I was in service, but the brief talk by Mej Gen Dato Othman Harun gave us what we ought to know about the creation of the regiment the moment we are commissioned into the regiment. I believe not many in service today know the existence of the ‘Wasiat’, and I believe it is the failure of the regiment not to understand the meaning and purpose of the ‘Wasiat’, that have led the regiment astray.

The gathering has certainly brought the ‘old timers and the forgotten ones’ to reaffirm their friendship and lost comradeship. And as Muslims, the reaffirmation of friendship is a religious obligation, and must never be breached. This was what the gathering has achieved.



Iskandar said...

Salam Dato',

I have the privilege to meet Mejar Manaf during the early years of Global Peace Mission, a humanitarian NGO setup by ABIM.

Soon after I read in the news he was detained under ISA. Great man indeed. If I am not mistaken, he served and advised Sir General Micheal Rose during Bosnian conflict.

He is one of those people I admired and inspired me to work in humanitarian aid sector.

Capt's Longhouse said...

dear dato,

,,,interesting subject issue raised by you about "jihadist" vs "terrorist" from the perception of western and muslim eyes. As a good muslim, all of us are direct/in-directly involved in our own hijad, in your case against corruption from the way I look at it. From me, I guess about inspirations to all malaysian but lets look a bit further on terrorism ...indeed, FORTUNATELY as for ideological war, they have very much diminished in recent years. What changed is the new term called "TERRORISM" has taken centre stage and a new role in war.
Terrorism is indeed the cancer of our modern world using primitive methods to instill fear to everyone. No state is immune to it.
,,,Similarly like cancer, unless properly treated drastically, its growth is inexorable, until it poison and engulfs the whole society on which it feeds and drags it together to final destruction.
,,,"Terrorism is said to be the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and mancing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends"... The usual apologia for terrorism is that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter", which is perfectly true and perfectly irrelevant ; I would say, "MURDER is not justified by sticking a different label on it yaa !!"
,,,The political justification - the claim that the end justiflies the means - is a debate crucial for fighting terrorism, and unfortunately it has not been resolved as yet to-date.
,,,Also there are many differences between terrorist groups. Some seek out what they would consider as "enemy targets", usually military/police. A few take great pains to avoid killing innocent people but others deliberately choose civilians as their primary targets. By all counts, they are all terrorists, however many might misconstrue the situation. The very word terrorist itself comes from "TERROR" - shall I need to further explain ?. (o.k. lets dig deeper into these new hazards or what some calls war against terrorism b4 it spread its wings into our society at large).
,,,There are three basic broad bands or categories (in fact more so-lah) of independent terrorist movements in the world as it is ; those inspired by Political fervour or even Fascistism movements; those inspired by Nationalism or Ethnic grievances and finally those inspired by Religion or in most case so identified or called/termed by the existing western culture, i.e. "Islamic Jihadist". Maybe, If i can further add the fourth category is terrorism directed/supported by Governments in the latest term it justifies itself as WAR AGAINST TERRORISM by invading other nation or state !. Geeee.
AND finally but not the end as yet, a new treat from individual lunatics or self proclaimed revolutionist and they are by far worse than all the other types of terrorists as mentioned above. A growing numbers, if you care to read some of their crazy/lunatic comments in the internet nowadays.

In conclusion, we are all a Jihadist but not a Terrorist in our struggle for a better nation. ...BUT indeed, mr. BUSH was the biggest TERRORIST in the century from my eyes. For Lt Col Abd. Manaf Kasmuri, i guess he knows what he was doing right for in his jihat too.

ucis said...

Salam Dato,
If I am not mistaken Dato Osman bin Harun retired as Lt Gen and his last appointment was as Panglima Markas Kor.Correct me pse.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear USIS,

Yes, I think you are right. He retired as a Lt Jen and his last position was the Corp Comdr. Get man to serve with, no frail and straight to the point. Never knew he took a cent from anybody. A highly principled person.

Fathol said...

Othman Harun retired a Lt-General and his last appointment was as Corps Commander replacing Borhan.

In fact it was a switch. Borhan took over from Othman as Deputy Army Chief and Othman from Borhan as Corps Commander.

The switch was deemed a demotion of sorts. It might have affected the way Othman performed subsequently. He was pretty aloof and kept much to himself. Aboo Samah took over from him upon his retirement in 1993.

I served in Corps HQ as GSO1 Training with my good friend whom I have lost trace of - Col Othman (Alif Ba Ta).

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Fathol,

Lt Kol Osman Esa resides in Lembah Keramat. He pressured me into letting him retire with terminal gratuity. I was SO 1 Admin then. Sure, I too have lost him and my calls to him are unanswered.

Fathol said...

I think I know where the elusive Othman is staying. May drop by his house unannounced one day.

Yeah, he was pretty gung-ho about leaving and I was nearly drawn into his scheme of things. One great guy.

Thanks, Dato'.

maurice said...

Attended a TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops)when Dato Othman Harun was a Col DS (Directing Staff).

The TEWT was Defence in Depth of a particular Malaysian territory against the LANUN Forces.

So our Appreciation was against the Lanun Force with limited firepower and mobility.Our Appreciation worked out well as we have the resources to counter every Lanun Force's intended move.

I am just wondering how Dato Othman would conduct a Defensive Operation TEWT today based on the real scenario.

How would he deal with a new Lanun Force equipped with GPS MLRS, Air-to- Ground Support equipped with day/night observation FLIR pod, fast moving recon parties on motorcycles and scout cars, UAV that can watch the ground 24/7, Attack Helicopter than can fly and attack targets day and night.

Just wondering what would be the DS solution like.

Mustang said...

Dear Dato,

The era of 70's was real true glory days. There was hardly any mention of Malay / Chinese / Indian / Dayak / Iban / Kadazan or Bajau and whatnot.

Race was not at all in the minds of anyone. Professionalism / Merit / Hard Work & Respect to Superiors & Authority was the order of the day.

We had lots of Brains in All Areas of Malaysians who worked as One in those 70's Loving & Memorable days. REAL MALAYSIAN BRAINS

Today its All Race / Race & Race. It will be a "DREAM COME TRUE" to get Those Loving days. Period!!

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Mustang,

I agree with you a 1000%. In fact I have written about it in some earlier postings. Ours is genuine friendship, regardless of race that will last forever. Herein lies the difference between us and our politicians; the latter is only for a purpose.

FMZam said...

The 70's was the post BMA (British Military Administration) era and from then on as we get farther away from it, it's been 5 decades since we have been pulling away from the gravity of British military tradition and slowly evolving ourselves into our own brand of militarism. When a heritage is not handed down well, the tradition is surely dissipating. But then when a tradition is not our tradition, when our military tradition was British's so when it dissipates, all the good values were eroded away as well to be forgotten by time.

Those good old days when "we were young and we were soldiers" and so were the present military leaders they were part of us to now see within our lifetime, the extinction of a military species right in front of our very eyes.

ucis said...

Dear Mustang,
It was indeed in the 70s and early 80s were the trying times for the AF esp the Army and Air Force,we fought the so called Undeclared War against the CTs
In Swak right fm Sibu,Balai Ringin,Serian,Bau,Lundu,Biawak,Semantan and right to Tg.Serabang we fought against PARAKU led by Wong Kee Chok ang Lai Soon Tak
In Semenanjong, upfront the Thai border there were the CPM RF/ML and 3rd Combat Coy of CPM Proper in Ops Kota Series to contain.Names like Gubir, Kroh, Bkt Berapit and Lepang Nenering were all too familiar with the soldiers.
In Ops SETIA Series we seek SCM Nam Yat and SCM Ahn Soo Chye in Sg Siput,Air Kala till Grik.
In Ops Indera series we harrased CCM Chong Chor and his Min Yuen leader Loh Poh Ying at Sang Lee Estate,Raub.Kerdau,Telemong and even to Bkt Tinggi and Frasers Hills.
We also seek for the remnant of 10th Regt of CPM led by Rashid Mydin fm Pdg Tengku,Merapoh up to Gua Musang.
Many of our personnels had sacrified their lives and injured
esp by booby traps.Names like the late Mej Zainal,Capt Chandran and still alive Mej Wong Sin Nang and PW1 Kanang reminded us of how closed our relationship/comradeship baring any races.Even at the top we had The late Gen Dato Chong,Gen Aru.Col Looi and other senior non Malay officers.
My conclusion is that may be we need such situation when there is an imminent threat to our country then only the spirit of Malaysian first and Race second will exist and emerge.

PS, We sould thank the Police esp their VAT 69 and Field Force in assisting us fighting the CTs.

Mustang said...

Dear Dato,

Quote "Ours is genuine friendship regardless of race that will last forever" Unquote.

Its a real emotional moment for me to read this Dato!! With Thanks

Dear ucis,

There has been lots of emotions to look back at the past.

Bong Kee Chok's Group PARAKU surrendered in Simanggang now known as Sri Aman. Warriors in Sarawak of those days were the like of Johnny Mustapha & Rentap. There was also the Sarawak Border Scouts.

Nevertheless, it has been a real emotional day today for me to recollect the past of having served this Nation, "Malaysia".

With true soldering spirit which I have never had the opportunity to say, My heartfelt Thanks / Appreciation & Gratitude to All the Supporting Arms / The Royal Malaysian Air Force / The Police Field Force / VAT 69 & not forgetting our very own Special Branch.

Salam Hormat

komando said...

This country rots because we have Rotten Leaders...period !

May it be they are in Uniform or Politicians or Ministers!

Need I say anything more ?

maurice said...

Since there are no responses to the TEWT question I posed to serving officers in my earlier posting, it only shows the serious challenges and difficulties faced by our Brigade, Batallion and Company Commanders in the field today.

The possible DS solutions perhaps could be found in the Hezbullah War against the Israelis in Southern Lebanon, the Iraqi War and Afghan War.

Profit from them to improve our military deterrence.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice,

I, and not only Lt Jen Othman Harun will obviously find it hard to take the challenges of the modern war.
The machinery of war have changed, and I suppose with it comes changes in doctrines.
Though I was a Staff College DS once, and if you were to ask me to map an appreciation of a likely battle scenario for our country today, I will find it hard to do so.
With all sorts of new hardwares being inducted into the armed forces, the plan for battle becomes more complicated, and I hope our new generation of officers can manage the hardwares to meet the modern day battle environment.

WIRA said...

I agree with you 100%. It is very difficult to visualise present day battlefield scenario when the Army is equipped with MBTs that are only good for the Merdeka Parade. Couple that with proposed APCs to be assembled by lorry assemblers like DRB Hicom using the "ROJAK" technology, one can understand why.
As if the Malaysian terrain and damp climatic environment have changed so drastically.
Realistically Dato, all these so called modern hardware purchases have been driven not by tactical or strategic needs, rather by the commercial interest they offer.
Kalau tidak kenapa masih beri kontrak kpd DRB satu syarikat yg tak boleh baiki sistem brek dan gear ADNAN yg rosak. (untuk memperbaiki kerosakan tersebut mereka terpaksa mendapatkan khidmat mekanik dpd Turkey)(and to be candid about it, Ah Kow workshoppun boleh buat repair tersebut) So where is their capability and capacity as the so called lead agency of the Defence Industry. MEMBOHONG!! They are no better than mere truck assemblers. Kalau tak percaya, buat audit atau tanyalah Mej Geodfrey Chang.
Now they have been given LOI untuk APC pulak. Apa nak jadi?
So kalau Pak Arshad tak dapat visualise scenario peperangan masakini, can we blame him? Semua barabg either tak boleh harap atau tak boleh pakai. Tapi banyak general pencen yg kaya..Ha..Ha..
But Dato, come what may, we still have very good and reliable infantry in our Army. Mereka ini akan menjadi sandaran akhir kita kelak...but should arm them with reliable wpns like AK-47s and RPGs.

G.Jeyaganesh said...

Lt Kol Manaf was my OC in Boys Wing, RMC from 1989-91. He personnaly backed me up against the commandant Kol Hussin Ali numerous times when i was caught ragging the new boys. A superb officer and a gentlemen par excellence Lt Kol Manaf was an epitome of officer and a gentlemen. I dont beleive a single word or the propoganda that he was terrorist. He belived in a cause and humanity and it was humanity that made him support the Bosnians.
He experienced first hand the atrocties commited by the Serbs and as a human belived something should be done to help the Bosnians, period.
My salute to you sir....Lt Kol Manaf,

Abu said...

Salam Dato',

Thanks for the supportive words. Keep up the good works. I heard about that Wasiat some years ago but so far no one has rectified it yet. Definitely, it isn't written in Malay Regiment history,its charter or formation background.

Just work a bit harder, with God's willing, we will have better government and more prosperous rakyat after GE 13.

Iskandar and Jeya; Thanks for the kind words.