Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Most have noticed that I had laid down writing for almost 14 days. The reason was this i.e. that I had been on a weeklong business cum leisure trip to Cambodia beginning 30 January and upon my return, I was down with cough and cold that forced me to confine myself to bed for the next 6 days. For a man of 68, it wasn’t easy to recover from the dreaded cough and cold, even if I had forced myself to drink two bottles of Band Essence of Chicken daily hoping to reenergize my ailing body. I never really liked visiting a doctor for a simple illness like this for I know the prescription would be the good old panadol and some anti- biotic pills.

Several friends called to find out what has gone wrong with me. I am feeling better now and the first thing I did was to open my email only to find more than 1001 unread emails. If you were me, would you want to read all the emails or be selective in reading only those that are of interest to you and the rest be ignored?

The trip to Cambodia was an interesting one this time. It gives me the opportunity to meet up with people that I had befriended back in 1992. Some of them are holding high government position; some in business while some have long retired and settled in their villages, and their whereabouts unknown.

One interesting personality that I met was General Chhum Sucheat, currently holding the position of the Under Secretary of State and spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense. I had known him as the Cambodian People’s Armed Forces (CPAF) Liaison Officer who was with me throughout the period of my UN duties in Cambodia in 1992. He was at the time just a 37 year old CPAF officer of the rank of Brigadier, while I was already reaching the age of 50 and a Colonel. Surprisingly too, General Ke Kim Yan, CPAF Chief of Defence Force at the time was also of the same age with General Sucheat. The former has ventured into politics and is today a Minister in the Hun Sen government. I was fortunate to have met him again during an earlier visit to Cambodia in 2005 when he was still the Chief of Defence Force.

My first day in Cambodia was to call upon the Malaysian Ambassador at the newly built Malaysian Embassy complex that is also home for the Ambassador and his staffs. I also called upon the Defence Attache, Col Adnan Ariffin in his beautifully furnished office and the Matrade marketing officer Mr. Thorn Sarorn who happens to be a local Khmer who spoke fluent Indonesian and English. I am indeed thankful to the Ambassador and his staffs for having agreed to meet despite me being a nobody, and for me to express the reason for the visit to Cambodia, and to be accorded well by everyone.

My meeting with General Sucheat on the second day brought back many fond memories. As I had alluded earlier he was much younger than me. But what surprised me most is that he now is a tee-totaller; having being told by his doctors to abstain completely from alcoholic liquor because of a heart ailment. In the days that I had known him, he is never without a glass of liquor at hand; more so during period of leisure.

What is obviously visible in Phnom Penh today is that one can no longer see armed soldiers and military vehicles roaming the city. This is strikingly unusual from what was witnessed in the period leading to the UN intervention of the early 90’s where armed soldiers roamed freely in the city and around the country side. Road blocks manned by the militia and police were so common around the city center and along the country roads then, that one finds it unsafe to travel after dusk. The city of Phnom Penh has gone through some major facelift, spotting newly constructed high raised modern designed buildings all over the city. From the number of foreign banks seen around the city, I believe businesses in Cambodia are growing at a rapid pace. Malaysia’s Cambodian Public Bank (Campu Bank) the first Malaysian bank to venture into Cambodia in 1992 appears to be one of the largest foreign banks having its headquarters in a newly constructed multistory building.

My weeklong trip to Cambodia wasn’t in vain. Here, I wish to recall the final paragraph of a book I wrote about the Malaysian Experience in Cambodia, quote, “Malbat has learnt one valuable lesson i.e. that peacekeeping is not about projecting one’s physical might; on the contrary, peacekeeping has all to do with the portrayal and the exercise of one’s humble and humane values. This was where our soldiers stood above the rest and the sacrifices they made were all for a worthy cause. We gave the Cambodian people the peace that they so deserve. With peace, there would be prosperity and with prosperity, there would be enduring regional stability” unquote.

Having witnessed the rise of Cambodia from the ravages of war, I can now say that Malaysian soldiers were a party to the peace and prosperity that Cambodia enjoys today, and we all ought to be proud.



bruno said...

Dato it is nice to have you back,and I hope that you have fully recovered from your cough and cold.I was just scrolling on your blog to see if you are back in action before I get on with my work.I got to go now.Take care and have a nice evening.


It was a relief and a pleasure to see you back in print! You have been sorely missed Dato.
Keep well.

exrmafazhar said...

Welcome back Dato. Similarly i wished i had the same opportunity to visit Bosnia Herzegovina back. Wonder how that country has performed since the days of the Balkan Conflict.

Arunzab said...

Great to have you back. It's on occasions like this that I envy you, taking a walk back into memory lane. It must be very gratifying meeting up with old friends.
Much has developed since, on the home front and you will be spoilt for choice on which subject to blog on.

Hassan Ali has gone wild, forting at the mouth in his condemnation of PKR with his theme Melayu Islam & RajaRaja (MIR). He claims to be independent but gets full coverage in all UMNO control electronic and print media. The part of protecting the RajaRaja really gets me, knowing fully that it was UMNO in 1992 under then Taiko Mahathir that maki hamun Raja Raja and castrated them of their real powers and brought them to their knees.

Perhaps Dato' may want to blog on this!! at some time.
Thank you

bruno said...

Dato,it is good to know that Cambodia is now doing good economically.Before it was completely upside down.The same can be said about Vietnam.

But a few years after the Vietnam war ended,Malaysians were among the first to rush in to invest.And I think that the same can be said about Cambodia too.

FDI in Malaysia has dropped dramatically the last decade.Our neighbours Indonesia,Thailand and the Phillipines have overtook us.I think that Vietnam has also overtook Malaysia.Cambodia is chasing up and soon it will overtake us too.

The only thing Malaysia is good at is corruption and cronism.Everything else from the economy to education is going backwards,while our neighbours are going forward.

I didn't know that Dato is also an author too.Maybe in future you can update your readers about your books and writings.

Banne said...

Get well, Dato. Miss your articles.

A.B.U. said...

Dato, strongly suggest u get to know "Dr Rath Health Foundation" (u can google) and find out why deficiency of Vitamin C is the root cause of many cardiovascular diseases. The foundation is anti-pharmaceutical cartels.

mitchell said...

Welcome back the closing paragraph: "Not a show of physical might but a potrayal of humane and humble value"..."our soldiers stood out"
So bloody proud to be a Malaysian..
To those who served in Cambodia and the other war-torn countries, Syabas and God Bless All of you!

sang kancil said...

Yes it is indeed nice to have you back. I missed your absence and wondered what had happended. Wish you well.

maurice said...

Thank you for sharing your experience Dato.No doubt our soldiers are well prepared for peace-keeping operations because they have the temperament for the job.But I was told too much peace-keeping operations is also not good for our Army as you tend to lose the aggressive and offensive spirit.We need aggressive Army to protect this nation.

Becareful when doing business in Cambodia Dato.I heard the country is full of corrupted politicians.I went to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat a few years back.Millions of tourists visited Angkor Wat every year but the collection revenue from entrance fees (about USD50 per head) I was told go to Hun Sen controlled company.

Another thing a lot of poor people in Cambodia.If you visit Lake Tonle Sap you will see a lot of poor people living in make-shift huts along the road.

By the way Dato want to share with you and readers some wonderful Arab music in the Utube.Just punch:Nancy Ajran, look for her songs: Ya Kethar and Entah Eih.Another singer, Cyrine Abdel Nour, her songs; Avoun El Asaleya and Law Bas Fi Eini.Happy listening.

coolman said...

Its really good to see you back. Dato. I have been wondering what happened to Dato for the past few days. Missed your article dearly! Keep it up, Dato. Wishing you well and good health always!

zorro said...

The ABU movement wold be happy if you could post this youtube. They requested that I ask you.

matsingkong said...

The UN used to be controlled by Nato and US of A those days, if looking at Korea and Iraq. The UN have came under severe critiscm since 9/11 because of stooping so low to the US of A. Changes were made and UN peacekeeper forces was carefully chosen not because entirely due to the high standard of army discipline but the knowldege and similiarity in culture that can assist the distraugh country to move forward without being pushed forward by M16s but more of compassion towards people sufferings and the need to help them. Malaysia has that quality and it has proven that we can integrate with people who has similar cultures .We wont survive in UN peacekeeping in war torn US of A.