I browsed through the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) website, and I was particularly interested to know more about the MAF Peacekeeping Training Center. My interest in the center stems from the fact that I have on several occasions been invited to speak on the subject of peacekeeping, when the center initially started running courses at the Port Dickson Golf Club. I think that was in early 2000.
I remembered too that in 1997, I was invited to deliver a talk at a peacekeeping forum in Thailand, where the topic given to me was ‘Peacekeeping Operations – Lesson Learnt’, and at another forum in Hawaii. I gladly accepted the invitations because I wanted to share my experiences on peacekeeping and at the same time learn from the experiences of others. All the speakers held various appointments during their peacekeeping duties, and I spoke about my experiences as a Sector Commander during my tenure in Cambodia in 1992/1993.
Going through the website, I noticed that the center has had many achievements i.e. being the first of its kind in the region and is able to lure international participation. I believe the center was mooted during the time when Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar was the Defence Minister, and it took fruition when Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak became the Defence Minister. The center was officially opened by Dato Seri Najib in April, 20, 2006
Besides Malaysia, the Nordic countries have an established reputation as being countries that had been involved in many peacekeeping duties since the UN first undertook peacekeeping duties in 1948 following a truce in the troubled Middle East, between the Arabs and the newly formed Jewish state of Israel. With these experiences, it was only proper that the Nordic region became the center for the teaching and training of potential peacekeepers.
The establishment of a Peacekeeping Center in Malaysia is apt because of Malaysia’s experience and involvement in peacekeeping duties throughout the world; the first being in Congo in 1960. I am told that today, the Malaysian Armed Forces have deployed peacekeepers, staffs and observers to no less than 20 countries across the world. This is an outstanding number, and I attribute this to the sterling role played by our officers and troops before, which have received profound acknowledge and recognition by the UN body.
With all the experiences that members of the Armed Forces have acquired on peacekeeping duties, I wonder whether the center maintains a library of records of all those who have participated in peacekeeping in their various capacities. The records could take the form of end of mission report, writings, documents, pictures and personal records by individuals or groups that had served on peacekeeping duties. I know there have been some officers who had written books to document their experiences, and I think this is a righteous cause. All of them did it at their own expense which to my mind is quite improper. I think Mindef should have paid for the cost of printing, or a portion of the cost. I am sure many officers would have gone into writing their experience if some form of financial support is offered to them. And from my experience and knowledge, no two peacekeeping mission is the same, and for this the experiences are different. It is for this very reason that a library of experiences be kept at the center.
I’ve just been told that someone is about to document into a book the army’s experience in Somalia, with particular reference and emphasis on the infamous Bokhara Market incident. I applaud this effort to correct the misleading depiction of the incident as shown in the US movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ and the writings by former Pakistan President General Perves Musharraf in his book titled ‘In The Line of Fire’ that is seriously flawed, erroneous and need to be rectified (read my posting dated June 13, 2008). I had in fact brought this error to the notice of the Armed Forces Chief at the time, and even wrote an email to General Musharraf’s office. However, I have not received any response from either one till today. I suppose my observation has no relevance to them.
Finally, I wish to congratulate the entire management of the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Center for an excellent website that is highly informative. Should they need photos of my Cambodian experience, I would be most obliged to provide them with some.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION