Thursday, May 5, 2011

9th BATTALION ROYAL MALAY REGIMENT

I received an email from one Zulfatah Ibeni who claimed to be the son of a soldier i.e. 19803 Cpl Ibeni @ Zakaria bin Othman who served with me when I was the Commanding Officer (CO), 9th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment(RMR) based in Alor Star, Kedah. That was back in 1981, and I served the battalion for only 17 months. Zulfatah Ibeni had found out that I was with his father serving the same battalion from reading some articles in my blog.

Being a toddler then, Zulfatah says that he hardly remembers his childhood days being the son of a soldier living among the families of soldiers of the battalion. He had asked me if I could write something about the battalion that his late father had served.

Firstly, I must admit that the late Cpl Ibeni @ Zakaria must have been one of my loyal and active soldiers. I say this without the slightest doubt because throughout my tenure as the CO, I was never troubled by ill disciplined and disloyal soldiers. Yes, there were some naughty ones, but they being young; I could understand why some got into petty problems, like returning to camp late, being absent for the morning physical training parade and some others. As the CO, petty issues do not bother me, but what concerns me most is that soldiers mustn’t lose sight of their soldierly ability and skill.

The battalion being located closed to the Thai-Malaysia border was the battalion of choice for any military operations conducted astride the border area. Sintok, an area that was once a communist terrorist hot bed in the late 60’s and early 70’s was to become the usual operational area for the battalion. The battalion would be deployed for a period of 3 months at a stretch, and would usually be replaced by 9th Ranger Battalion based in Penang. I remembered the CO of the battalion was then Lt Col Harchand Singh. The operational roulement between 9th Battalion RMR and 9th Rangers was to go on throughout my tenure with the battalion.

My joyous moment with the battalion was when we won the finals of the Sultan Abdul Halim football championship played at the Alor Star stadium. I think we played against 7th Battalion RMR and we won by just a goal margin. I remembered too that the Chief of Army then i.e. General Zain Hashim who was on an operational visit was late in arriving, and this was a cause of concern for me, since the Sultan of Kedah was to be present at the football match.

One particular incident that I wish not to remember was when a senior officer who had come from Army HQ, Kuala Lumpur to attend the football tournament had slapped my young officer at the Officers Mess. The reason was that this young officer whom I had appointed to be the Master of Ceremony at the football tournament made a wrong announcement on the arrival of the VIPs. I was told about the incident when I got to the Officers Mess, and I called up the senior officer to meet me for an explanation. He was visibly upset to be called by a subordinate, but I thought I had the right to be told of the incident involving my officer. A minor argument ensued but being a subordinate; I had to control my temper. I think, had he been of my rank or a junior, I would have bashed him and I do not mind being court martial. The reason is simple i.e. he had abused my young officer, and what right has he to lay his hands on a young officer knowing full well that the young officer could not retaliate. Following the incident and my encounter with the senior officer, I knew my career would not be a smooth one. Throughout my service, I had constantly avoided the senior officer.

HQ 12th Infantry Brigade had just been formed at Kangar, Perlis, and the battalion was placed under command of the Brigade. Prior to this we were under the command of HQ 6th Infantry Brigade located at Sg. Petani, Kedah. Being the only regular infantry battalion under command of the newly raised Brigade HQ, the battalion was constantly called to provide assistance in organizing the various activities of the Brigade. The other battalion was the Territorial Army Battalion manning the border area, with its Battalion HQ located at Bukit Kayu Hitam. Being deployed throughout the year, there was little that the battalion could do to assist the Brigade in its activities.

My next posting was announced sometime in June 1982. I was then on operations at Sintok when I received the news of my posting to HQ 4th Infantry Brigade at Temerloh, Pahang. I was to take over the appointment as Chief of Staff, a similar position that I have held when I was the Brigade Major of HQ 6th Infantry Brigade. I wondered why I was given a similar appointment whose only difference was in the rank structure, but the job specification remains more or less the same. I knew then that there were many other officers of my seniority who never served with a Brigade HQ, and my posting to an Infantry Brigade was to be for the third time.


I had send a message to my Commander requesting that I be relieve of my command only after I had completed my tour of operational duty. Earlier, I had received a message from HQ 4th Infantry Brigade ordering me to report for duty without delay, and it was because of this message that I had requested from my Commander to allow me to complete my operational duty first. My request however was not agreeable to HQ 4th Infantry Brigade, and I had to hand over the battalion while on operational duty to the late Lt Col Istama Teguh, who had just been appointed the CO of the newly raised 31st Battalion RMR. I bid farewell to all those at the Battalion Tactical HQ and departed without ever meeting and saying farewell to the troops that were deployed in the jungle areas. This was to be the saddest moment of my entire military career.


I hope the above brief write up of my tenure with 9th Battalion RMR is sufficient to satisfy Zulfatah Ibeni. Being the CO has made me to realize that with command comes a host of responsibilities. That responsibility is not confined to the officers and men that I command, but it also extends to their families.


Finally, I would like to also say this to Zulfatah Ibeni that it was not only your late father that I cared for, but that I also cared for you and your entire family members.


CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION

12 comments:

zack said...

Salam Dato’,
It is a pleasant surprise to be able to communicate with the former CO of my late father and even heartfelt honoured for my humble request to be granted by the very person, highly regarded by my late father. I wish I can tell him n bring him to meet u sir. Until his final day, he cherished the 9 RAMD like nothing else mattered most to him than this battalion sir. He never spoke ill about it and never ever anyone try to speak bad about it without incurring his wrath. U sir, along with CO’s before n after u had done an excellent job instilling proper values n spirit to rank n file under ur command sirs...I wish someday i can bring my son to meet u sir, for that he never met his Atuk (his atuk passed away before he was born).at least he can meet his Atuk’s Boss, the person highly regarded by his late Atuk.
Now sir, i m an architect serving in JKR. Married to an architect whose father is a former Risik. It seems that my life will cross path with military again. I was an army reservist in KJLJD (2005-2010).My wife,(working in an architect’s firm) involves directly in designing n constructing our very own Walter Reed Medical Centre! Which is 95 Hospital Angkatan Tentera or officially Sultan Tengku Mizan Armed Forces Hospital. She spent the best 3 years of her life n works into this hospital as a tribute n a way of showing gratitude to the armed forces. It can be said this ultra modern hospital has no match in terms of facilities n capacity. it has everything including specialised department like a dedicated hyperbaric chamber section rivalled only by Lumut Naval Hospital. She was upset when i told her that Out Patient centre was relocated to the Medical centre in Mindef for that she knew the place. The very reason for the creation of STMAFH is to provide the best medical services for armed forces personnel; still serving and veteran including their families. She hopes that whatever the policies and wisdom of MAF leadership, the hospital can b given a chance to shine to its fullest potential. On her personal note, she hope the hospital that she help to bring into realisation can give the best care to her father, should he be hospitalised there. As for me? I should go for public hospital i guess....
In all sir, we civilian (my wife n i) would like to apologised to any members of armed forces, be it those who are still serving an veterans if our comment offends u sirs. We never wanted to offend the group of people who give their all and influenced our lives in such a length n depth that we as a human can never fathom it so that we let our creator be the Judge.
Thank you again to u Dato’ and others like u sir, for leaving a legacy so much cherished by my late father. 9 RAMD meant a world for him. The sense of belonging and association he had shown spoke a lot about the battalion. Allah sahaja yang dapat membalas jasa tuan. Keep up the good work dato’.
Assalmualaikum.

Mohd Arshad Raji said...

Dear Zack,

Thank you for the kind words. But you have not given me your late father's name. May be I know him. You are most welcomed to visit me at anytime; including your entire family. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that my soldiers children are doing well. I know that there are many more out there who are doing well. Please call me at 012-3876061 Regards.

maurice said...

Dato,

Please don't confuse your readers especially those young soldiers/officers from the military group.

Failure to turn up for the morning PT is a serious military offence.No one is exempted from it unless you are sick or on duty elsewhere.It is a military parade where attendance is compulsory.

Those who fail to atttend have committed a military offence subject to summary/court martial punishment.

Darth Trust said...

Stories like these give me strength. I wonder if 9RMR and other similar outfit still have the same values...

Arunzab said...

Dato'
An excellent first person account of the trails and turbulence of a senior officer at various levels of command and staff. I specially liked the part where you stood up for your young officer. Your officers I am sure must have been very proud of you. This is what earning the respect of your subordinates is all about.

komando said...

The Rank is Might & Right all the TIME!
Till this very DAY!
Only god knows when that will change. If ever!

Mawar_Rimba said...

Dato', after reading your post "9th BATTALION ROYAL MALAY REGIMENT". I salute you Dato', i just do not know what to say. Thank you Dato'.

Mawar Rimba
PARA

Nochan said...

I was among the original officers who formed 9RMR in Majidee camp. The CO Mahmood Sulaiman; 2ic Nik Majid; OC HQ Coy Abdullah Hussin; Adjt Zarazillah; IO Aboo Samah; RSO Mahmud Zain; MTO Noor Ikhsan; QM Bahaudin; OC A Coy Fadzil Ahmad (2ic Rahman Hamid - PAT later on); OC B Coy Shah Yahya and many others.

benadam said...

Dear Zack,
I salute your late father for his obvious visions and uncompromising attitude towards his children’s education. Your status now epitomized that and so does you spouse. Of course the influence of former COs of Pak Chad’s calibre certainly had a hand in that evolution too. Al-Fatihah!!!

sirmudas said...

One particular incident that I wish not to remember was when a senior officer who had come from Army HQ, Kuala Lumpur to attend the football tournament had slapped my young officer at the Officers Mess. The reason was that this young officer whom I had appointed to be the Master of Ceremony at the football tournament made a wrong announcement on the arrival of the VIPs. I was told about the incident when I got to the Officers Mess, and I called up the senior officer to meet me for an explanation. He was visibly upset to be called by a subordinate, but I thought I had the right to be told of the incident involving my officer. A minor argument ensued but being a subordinate; I had to control my temper. I think, had he been of my rank or a junior, I would have bashed him and I do not mind being court martial. The reason is simple i.e. he had abused my young officer, and what right has he to lay his hands on a young officer knowing full well that the young officer could not retaliate. Following the incident and my encounter with the senior officer, I knew my career would not be a smooth one. Throughout my service, I had constantly avoided the senior officer.


Dear Uncle Arshad,

I dare not say if there are such officers such as you nowadays. A man of character and who will defend his subordinates because he is under your command. I hope to see more senior officers like you again in the Military. Not just the army. My salute and hats off to you sir.

azmi said...

Dato',
I reported to 9 RMR as a 18 year old young officer fresh from Officer Cadet School in 1981 in Kepala Batas Kedah. The batalion was involved in operations on the Malaysian Thailand border at that time.
After reporting to the Adjutant and interviewed by the batalion 2IC, 2Lt Manap and myself made our way in a convoy to Sintok Tactical HQ where we reported to you Dato'.
In the short spell when I was under you command, I found you truly an officer, a gentleman and a charasmatic leader. The men you left behind have only kind words to say about you. All the 800 odd men would tab all the way to Goose Green if you ordered us to (if I may mention about Falkland).
I met you again in Mentakab during a boxing match where you drove a few of us from 9 RMR to your home for a great chat. The second time was on Frasers Hill during a sports meet.
I will turn 49 this year and thanks to facebook, am in contact my my former soldiers from 9 RMR back in 80s.This time when we chat its about our children and grandchildren.
Terima kasih Dato' for sharing with me.
As in 9 RMR batalion song."Inilah tekad sumpahan kami, untuk Sembilan Melayu Di Raja, Kami berjuang terus berjuang....."
Hidup 9 RMR

sim said...

Hi sir.

I salute the men of 9th RMR. When I was doing internship, my company was an engineering contractor for troops at Markas Pulau Berhala on deployment fo Ops Pasir. During that time, 9 RMR was deployed and I had good experience in working with them. On an occasion, we were stationed at our site on a hill in the island over night to monitor our system. The next day there were troops running up the hill for PT and i was surprised when a senior NCO introduced his CO to me, among those running with the troops.I had seen several units but the discipline and espirit-de-corp o 9 RMR is really remarkable.