45 years have passed since I first reported for duty to 6th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment (6 RMR) as a young officer, then based in Kluang, Johore. That was in February 1966, the year when Elvis Priestly, The Beatles, Cliff Richard and the unforgettable Matt Munro were my favourites at the time. But having joined the army, I had to leave stacks of records of my favourite singers at my mom’s home, and never to see the records again.
Arriving by train at Kluang railway station from Kuala Lumpur in the early chilly morning and stepping out off the train for the first time in Kluang, and not knowing what to expect on arrival at the battalion, made me a nervous wreck. I was all alone, and my course mate 2Lt Hanafi Hassan (opted for early retirement in the rank of Capt) was to arrive on a different train schedule.
The battalion had arranged a vehicle to pick me up, since I had written to the Adjutant about my date and time of arrival. The battalion was located 3 miles from Kluang town along the Kluang-Jamaluang road, and that’s how the camp derives its name i.e. Kem Batu 3, Kluang, Johor. Although it was just a 3 short mile drive to the camp, I felt that the drive took hours, and all the while my thoughts were on what awaits me upon arriving at the officers’ mess.
I think it was a Sunday morning when I arrived at the officers’ mess. It was still dark that morning, and there was no one to be seen. When I got into the officers’ mess, I was greeted by Pak Dollah, the mess waiter who was expecting my arrival. He then showed me my room which was a fairly large room for a new arrival like me. I was told that the officers’ mess was a British legacy, and looking at the entire building structure, it was certainly built for comfort. The main visitors hall and the adjacent dining hall were exceptionally large, well ventilated and with high ceilings. It also had a cloak room, unheard of in today’s modern officers’ mess. The officers’ mess also had a dedicated billiard room and a little cozy bar at its side. The corridors on either side of the main mess building were spacious, and serve as a place where officers could laze around for their evening tea after games.
My fear of being bullied by my seniors as a new entrant to the officers’ mess somewhat faded when I was welcomed by the other living-in young officers at breakfast. I wasn’t shouted at, nor was I ordered to perform some ‘extraordinary stunts’ to entertain my seniors. There was nothing of that sort, but it was a gentleman’s welcome that I was to receive.
The following day being a Monday, was my first day in the newly tailored green cotton uniform as a young army officer, adorning the rank of a 2Lt. I had to report to the Orderly Room that morning to be interviewed by the Adjutant, and subsequently the Commanding Officer (CO) whose office is at one extreme end of the Orderly Room. I was marched in by the RSM to be interviewed by the Adjutant, and subsequently the CO.
During the interviews, I was told that I was to report to B Company as the Platoon Commander of 8th Platoon; the first appointment assigned for a newly commissioned officer of the RMR. Upon reporting to B Company, I found out that my Officer Commanding (OC) was on a course and Lt Badaruddin Yassin, the Company Second-in-Command was officiating OC, and 2Lt Aziz Mansor was the Platoon Commander of 5th Platoon. Number 6th and 7th Platoon were without a Platoon Commander at the time, but was later assigned to 2Lt Zaini Hashim and 2Lt Syed Haider Syed Ahmad respectively. Battalions then were organized into three rifle companies of four platoons each.
Here, I would like to pay a special tribute to some key officers of the battalion at the time of joining the battalion, and they are as under:
1. Lt Col (John) Mokhti Jabar (deceased) - CO
2. Maj Syed Hamzah - Battalion Second-in-Command
3. Maj Abu Hassan (deceased) - OC A Company
4. Maj Dahalan Sulaiman - OC B Company
5. Maj Musa Mohamed (deceased) - OC C Company
6. Maj Isa Mohamed (deceased) - OC HQ Company
7. Capt Jaafar Yusof - Adjutant
I could recall a total of 60 officers served the battalion over the period that I was in the battalion i.e. Feb 1966 till Nov 1969, and of which only one rose to became the Chief of Army i.e. General Dato Ismail Hassan who was the Mortar Commander at the time. Several others have risen to become Generals as follows:
1. Maj Dahalan Sulaiman - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
2. Maj Syed Hamzah - retired in the rank of Brig Gen
3. Capt Jaafar Yusof - retired in the rank of Brig Jen
4. Capt Raja Ibrahim - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
5. 2Lt Aziz Mansor - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
6. 2Lt Jusoh Daud - retired in the rank of Brig Gen
7. 2Lt Hashim Karim - retired in the rank of Brig Gen
8. Lt Hussein Suffian - retired in the rank of Brig Gen in the RMAF
9. Capt Jailani Asmawi (deceased) - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
10. Lt Kol Shah Mohd Amin - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
11. 2Lt Muslim Yusof - retired in the rank of Brig Gen
12. Capt Sulaiman Kudus - retired in the rank of Maj Gen
My tenure with the battalion ended in Nov 1969 when I was then posted to Sg. Patani, Kedah to help raise the newly established HQ 6th Infantry Brigade (read my posting dated May 23rd 2009). I was told about my posting while playing tennis by the Adjutant, and there was no option given to me, except to accept the posting.
I was then courting my present wife, a Kluang lass that I had known for about a year. And on hindsight, the posting help hastened my marriage, and by the time I packed my bags to leave Kluang for Sg. Patani, I had a young wife to take along, and this time I wasn’t alone reporting to a new unit.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION