Sunday, April 18, 2010


Ba’kelalan, a remote area nestled 970 meters high in the Bario Highlands of Sarawak that I had written about in May last year is back in the news (NST Online dated Apr 14, 2010). The Royal Malaysian Army Engineers is reported to be constructing a total of 10 bridges and a 75 km road linking Lawas to Ba’kelalan at almost half the projected cost. It was around September last year that the government approved RM50 million for the first construction phase of a road from Lawas to Ba’kelalan, and I presume this is part of the same project that the Army Engineers is currently involved.

Since leaving Ba’kelalan in 1967, I have not been back to the place, despite having served Sabah on several occasions. It is much closer to get to Ba’kelalan by air from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah then it is from Kuching, Sarawak. I am not quite sure whether there are direct flights from Sabah to Ba’kelalan now, or one has to travel down to Kuching first, for a flight to Ba’kelalan. In the early days, there was already an airstrip at Long Semado where the RMAF Caribou transport aircraft would land to supply troops operating in the Long Semado area, and subsequently fly to Ba’kelalan to do a supply airdrop, since there wasn’t an airstrip at Ba’kelalan then.

When Ba’kelalan appeared in the news, I am reminded of Brig Jen Dato Mazlan Baharuddin (Retired) who in 1967 was the platoon commander based in Ba’kelalan, whom I had to replace during a changeover between our battalions i.e. 4 RMR and 6 RMR. Ba’kelalan too reminds me of a remote village called Long Rusu that is home of the Muruds and the gorgeous Murud lass named Rinai that I had written about in my May 2009 posting. I am quite sure Mazlan would be reading this posting and would reminisce with joy of having been the young and energetic platoon commander manning the Ba’kelalan outpost.

The Army Engineers is one corps that I have my greatest respect and fondness. From the experience being with them, they seemed reluctant to stop working until they were told to stop. This was what I observed during my tenure as the Malaysian Contingent Commander for UN Peacekeeping Operations in Cambodia at which time a field troop was assigned to the contingent. They are men of multiple skills and despite the enormous workload assigned to them, there has never been a whimper of complaint or dissatisfaction.

The Lawas-Ba’kelalan road and bridge projects assigned to the Army Engineers will surely be a challenging one. And it is not only the hazardous terrain and the cold nights that the soldiers have to endure, but also the long period of separation from their families. This is where most who are not familiar with the military service and their nature of work, can never appreciate the life that a soldier has to go through.
With the insurgency over, it is right that the Army Engineers be deployed to perform works that will benefit the people such as the one in Ba’kelalan. I am quite sure the people of Ba’kelalan and Lawas will remember the Army Engineers for their work for a very long time. And for the soldiers themselves, it is the field experience that they gain, that may be useful to them after they leave the military service.

And to my dear friend Brig Jen Dato Mazlan, like us who are now grandfathers, I suppose Rinai too must be a grandmother.



Legion™ said...

My father served in the Engineer Corp.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Legion,

You are one proud son of an engineer corps soldier. Believe you me, your father's contribution has no monetary value. My sincere regards to your dad.

Legion™ said...

Thank you Sir

basri bin omar said...

Salam Dato'

Terima kasih atas penghargaan Dato' terhadap REJIMEN ASKAR JURUTERA DI RAJA(RAJD)...sebagai Pesara saya turut berbangga atas keupayaan dan kemampuan RAJD....hanya kadang2 manusia ni buat2 lupa ttg PENGORBANAN tu hingga ada pasukan Jurutera nak di bubarkan !..Wallahuaqlam...!

Buat para teman dan anak buah yang telah pergi dulu, sempena HUT RAJD yang ke 57 pada 22 April nanti ,kita hadiahkan AL FATIHAH untuk ROH2 mereka ...AMIN!


Basri bin Hj Omar

G.Jeyaganesh said...

sappers lead the way,

FMZam said...

When come to RAJD, count me out. For portraying myself as anti-establishment in this blog, I received words from someone in the Corp who said I am a disgrace to the Corp.

pendita said...

Dear Dato',

Those projects are merely some of the contributions of the Engr Corps over 57 years.

Any way, all corps in the Army did have the same commitment for the rakyat and country.


FMZam said...

The dual roles of Engineers in war, not just as combat support element but to FIGHT AS INFANTRY, and we have one Engineer with PGB - Lt Kol (R) Hj. Basri Bin Hj. Omar.

exsappersutara said...

TQ Dato' for your appreciation to all "Sappers". From Ex-Sappers Wilayah Utara I would like to say "Thank You Very Much" for your special article in Royal Malaysian Army Engineers. I will convey your appreciation to all our members.

Thank you Dato'.

From :

ArshadRaji said...

Dear FMZam,

Please do not be discourage by what people say of you in this blog. And from all your writings, I think you are still the 'gang-ho' sapper that you have always been. Please keep commenting on my postings. I have learnt a lot from your comments.

komando said...

FMZ---- oops do not get angry brother...get a NICE ice-kool-drink and chill out ...people can say whatever they want about us EX- SERVICE blokes, anti govt, anti establishment, anti UMNO, anti BN!


Their heads and brains have been sold to the devil!
They lived on evil money and devils blood, and AT THE END they will ALL PAY FOR IT !

exsappersutara said...

Dear FMZam Sir,we still remember you as Sapper Officer.You are welcome to join our Ex-Sappers Wilayah Utara.I believe Lt Col(R) Basri will agree with me!!

FMZam said...

Dear Dato' Arshad,

The first time I came into this crusade, Komando was already here, rounding your perimeter like the paladin of the hour. Now he's still here as loyal as the knight templar of the holy grail. I'll be damned to sheathe my sword when Komando bleeds longer than me to keep fighting with his tooth and nails. Thank you.

FMZam said...

Dear sir exsappersutara,

I thank you for your kind invitation, I am so glad to learn from your blog the exsappersutara is meant for all sappers soldiers regardless of ranks. I'd love to join if you all don't mind having a rogue ex sapper from down south into your rank. My regards to you all. Salam.

blackhackle said...

My father inlaw served in the RER..ex sapper..7 Legend to engr corp..LtC Basri knew him well.

Loon said...

Hi all Datos and Sirs,

This is the 1st time i comment here but do follow this blog for a period of time.

thanks Dato for bringing out RER from the shade. like what Col Basri said, is sad that one of the RER regt will be disband.

anyway, i am proud to be a sapper offr, eventhough i am out of the service now, i still practice our motto, 1st in last out, regardless weather of terrain (i think the latter phrase is frm infantry.. but what the heck!)

ArshadRaji said...

Dear All,

Thanks for the kind words. When I say that the Engrs are good, I really mean it. They have worked with me on many occasions, and as someone said, they will be the first to get to work (first in) and the last to return (last out).