I attended a funeral this morning of Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli Ismail (Retired) who passed away peacefully evening Tuesday 6 December at his home in Damansara Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. He was 68 year old. I was informed about the death of Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli by the Retired Armed Forces Officers’ Club (RAFOC) secretariat via SMS; a messaging service extended to all members of RAFOC.
The late Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli was commissioned into the Royal Malay Regiment in 1962. Upon the formation of the Malaysian Special Service Unit (later to be redesignated Rejimen Gerak Khas Malaysia) in 1965, Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli then a Lieutenant, together with three other officers i.e. Maj Abu Hassan Abdullah, Lt Ghazali Ibrahim and Lt Hussin Awang Senik and including nine other ranks became the first group of Malaysian army personnel to undergo basic commando training under the prestigious 40 Commando, British Royal Marines at Majidee Camp, Johor Bahru. These 13young men were to be the pioneer of what is today the Rejimen Gerak Khas Malaysia (RGKM), generally known as the Malaysian Army Commandos.
Sometimes back in 1967, while I was on the firing range for a shooting exercise with my platoon at Pulau Tekong (this island now belongs to Singapore), I came across the young Lt Mohd Ramli adorning his green beret, for the first time on a raiding exercise on the island with some other young commandos. To get to Pulau Tekong, we had to be ferried on a British landing craft from Changi, Singapore. There wasn’t any access to the island from the Malaysian side then, and I wondered how did Lt Mohd Ramli and his raiding party managed to land on the island? I wasn’t too bothered to know, and neither would they want to tell me, if I had asked.
To all his officers and men in the commandos, Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli is known for having a love for sports, training, books and the care for his soldiers, especially the food that they are being fed with. He loves visiting the other ranks cookhouse unnoticed, and to see for himself, the menu cooked for the day. It is for this very reason that cooks under his command are at all times alert to his coming, and are forced to constantly keep the cookhouse and its surroundings, clean and tidy. I have never served Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli at anytime during my career, but having met him on several occasions, I find him easy going, kind and someone with a good knowledge in military history.
What I witnessed at the funeral of the late Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli was something that I as a retired military person am extremely proud. Those that were at the graveyard were not only his military friends that have all retired, but including serving military officers and men proudly in their uniforms, who willingly extended a hand in organizing the entire funeral service. Most of the serving officers and men may not know Maj Gen Dato Mohd Ramli, let alone having served him, but the spirit of loyalty towards an old soldier is assured and an everlasting one. This is the loyalty that each and every officer and soldier has towards their friends and seniors, which strikingly differs from that of politicians. This is what I term as an ‘embedded culture’. Certainly, military officers and soldiers do not need to have their pledge of loyalty written on paper.
Here, I would also like to mention that the role played by RAFOC in disseminating information regarding death or sickness of its members and non members, is commendable. Besides disseminating the information via SMS, such information is also posted in RAFOC’s website at www.rafoc.org.my. RAFOC, I am told is growing in its membership, and it is this very simple, unselfish,caring and interpersonal approach to its members that makes RAFOC relevant.
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