On June 1st, the president of ex-servicemen association flanked by two ex-soldiers held a press conference and issued the following ‘battle cry’. Or tantrums.
“If possible, use the ISA. We do not want the communist ideology to grow in Malaysia”. said the all knowing and wise president.
So deep-rooted was his hatred towards a ‘former’ enemy that his vision was distorted. He could not think of any other means other than to despatch peace-loving Malaysians to Kamunting. And if this man was an officer in the armed forces, I dread to think what would have been his reactions in the face of enemy fire.
And is he not aware that once a peace treaty is signed, the animosity should and must end.
“However, we, as ex-servicemen, will feel insulted if they were allowed to return as Malaysian nationals,”
Insulted. Who should feel insulted?
The two retired armed forces personnel and many others should. For all the sacrifices, losing limbs and eyesight, they only receive RM 429 and RM274 monthly pensions, barely or perhaps insufficient to make ends meet.
Who else should feel insulted?
The ex-servicemen who have high hopes on their president to bring about meaningful changes that could improve the lives of disabled comrades instead of goading them by stoking the ember of hatred.
By implying that the voices who supported the return of Chin Peng are communist sympathizers and therefore should be locked in Kamunting reflects the capacity of the person.
By implying that the return of a man who is deep in his twilight years and ’could hardly summon a meeting of two people’ will spur the growth of communist ideology is insulting the intelligence of broad minded Malaysians.
As an ex-serviceman who opted to dissociate from the association, one could not help but feel vindicated for spurning the widely accepted notion that one has more to gain by being a member. As it stands, regrets could have been appropriate. How could an association move forward if it’s rudder is helmed by someone who despises the opinion of others. Wonder how many enemies had he killed or shot or ever being shot at all.
By harping the blame solely on the communists for the conditions they are in is synonymous with electricians blaming TNB for electric shocks or electrocutions, or machine operators blaming the machine for mishaps that caused the loss of limbs, or motorists blaming the road for accidents that disabled them for life.
Did Wayne Rainey ever blame the bike’s manufacturer for the crash during the 1993 Italian MOTOR GP race that paralyzed him waist down? Did the legendary Muhammad Ali ever blame the promoter for pitching him against tough opponents that subsequently lead to the Parkinson syndrome that restricted his mobility? Did the family of Ayrton Senna ever prohibit other family members from pursuing F1 racing just because Senna was killed at Imola in 1994?
No they did not. And they don’t lament on ‘what could have been’.
Wayne Rainey is now managing a motor GP outfit. Muhammad Ali, despite the handicap, is still busy travelling world over promoting racial goodwill. A nephew of Ayrton Senna was racing for the Renault F1 team.
The two soldiers and those that bemoaned the tragedy that befell them should take a leaf out of those who live their dreams by turning adversities into opportunities. Harbouring grudges will not help them overcome difficulties. If, by gouging Chin Peng’s eyes could restore his vision, then go ahead. Otherwise, keep the desire tightly locked in the subconscious.
Failure to keep emotions in check especially during press conferences more often than not expose one’s weaknesses. For ordinary men, such failures are not uncommon. But for a soldier or an ex-soldier, it is tantamount to self-degradations.
True fighting men are those who respect the enemy and vice versa. In every encounter, there are the victors and the vanquished. If one could not accept that ’unwritten law’ of battle, then do not disrespect the uniform that we once proudly donned. It is a disgrace to be still moaning long after the duel or hostilities are over.
Perhaps if they are bestowed with honours similar to the living legend, the indomitable Iban Warrior Kanang anak Langkau, or Victoria Cross like the one bestowed by the Queen on Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu from the 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha’s Rifles during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation in 1965, then they might have strung a different chord.
Perhaps, the words of Professor Sir Ralph Turner who once served with the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles during the First World War could serve as reminder of how true fighting men should be:
“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you”.