On September 5, 2011, I posted an article titled, ‘The making of a hero out of our own stupidity’ that commented on the shooting incident in Somalia involving a Bernama photographer Noramfaizul Mohd Nor that led to his untimely death. Noramfaizul was on a humanitarian mission organized by Putra 1 Malaysia Club; an UMNO outfit headed by one Datuk Abdul Azeez Abd Rahim. While we ought to grieve the lost of an innocent life, I somehow think the government has been over zealous in the manner it handled the incident, that I as a former soldier finds it somewhat of a mockery.
My simple argument and reasoning is this - firstly, it is pointless to glorify a dead person when Noramfaizul’s death was the result of the organizers’ sheer stupidity in putting civilians in harm’s way, knowing full well that Somalia is the most unsafe country in the world. Didn’t the organizers know that at the height of the Somalian civil war, Malaysian soldiers have lost their lives and almost an entire platoon of Pakistani soldiers too was killed? Even the most powerful military in the world i.e the USA found it difficult to deal with Somalian rebels, and remember 'The Black Hawk Down' USA propoganda movie?
Here, I am not implying that the humanitarian mission was a worthless cause, but what I am saying is that going into a country like Somalia (despite the presence of the African Union peacekeeping troops) is still dangerous and venturing into that country by people who are clueless about the dangers confronting them smacks of ignorance and stupidity.
Secondly, I think conferring the status of a National Hero upon Noramfaizul who died without him knowing what actually killed him and in such haste, I think is most inappropriate. I do not know the basis upon which Noramfaizul was conferred a National Hero, but I do know there are a set of criterions and eligibilities upon which one is conferred an award for valor by the government, such as the SP, PGB and other gallantry awards. Such award generally relates to actions in the face of an enemy in combat. But in the case of Noramfaizul, can his death be classified as death in combat in the face of an enemy? Maybe the Malacca state government that had conferred Noramfaizul with a gallantry award can explain the rational for such an award. We know that history does tell us that Malacca had many warriors in the past (Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat and others) but I think none of the ‘Hangs’ are ever conferred the status of national or state heroes. I am not surprise that one day an award of a similar nature will be conferred to someone who died from being knocked down by a motorcycle while on duty in some war thorn country.
Thirdly, I do not know if an insurance payment of almost half a million ringgit to the family of Noramfaizul could dampen their sorrow and grief at having lost someone dear. And half a million ringgit is not an amount that the next of kin of a soldier who dies in combat is paid by its group insurance. It is far less and it is certainly not front page news in the media. I suppose, dead soldiers has little news value; unlike national sportsman and sports woman who even failed to make a cut at international sport circuit.
Fourthly, the reception given to Noramfaizul at the airport upon his arrival is like a grand circus, including the clowns and court jesters. I am not saying that he does not deserve a ‘grand reception party’ and a full police escort right to his grave site. What concerns me is that those VVIPs that were present at the airport had all the time to be away from their offices and to accompany a funeral motorcade, then to be in their office; thinking, dealing and solving national issues. Who does not sympathize with the family of Noramfaizul; I certainly do, but the least I could do is to recite the first surah of the Koran in remembrance of Noramfaizul in my prayers.
And if I could relate my experience having return home with my troops after a 15 months successful UN peacekeeping tour in Cambodia, the reception party that received us at the Johore Bahru airport was merely the Brigade Commander and of course our families. We returned home minus one soldier who died in Cambodia. There wasn’t a single VVIP and I am not at all disappointed. I think, what is more important is that we as soldiers had presented and performed well Cambodia and most of all, maintained the good name of the country.
To the organizers of the Somalian humanitarian mission, let this be a lesson to you, and if you think you want to be a hero in a country like Somalia or to any other war thorn country, my brotherly advice to you is to seek the professional advice from those soldiers that had served the country, and there are many that you can seek from.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION