Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Few Good Men

Sometime ago, I was just passing through and taking short cut from Tanjung Bidara going to Masjid Tanah to attend a wedding invitation. Responding to a Skot’s comment on the appalling state of Terendak Camp against the situation when he was the CO of 3 Div Sig Regt and SO 1 log of 3 Div, prior to his retirement in 1997, and here is my comment : I could understand your frustration on the negative impact and circumstances that took place on places we have been during our service. You may say that since I may have just served a short while as such I won't be able to understand the feeling that surrounds your frustration. Let me just tell you my friend.., I am practically born into the army and I have gone through 'that life' that I am afraid that you and the rest of our Skots may not be able really understand. It is not only involved the heritage in infrastructures but also cultures of what the army has gone through or transformed even during the time when I was in Terendak Camp. Perhaps you probably felt the same in comparing soldiers during your earlier days against their attitude nowadays. I don't mean to brag but let just compare notes and walk that memory lane once again and see where the bonding fell apart.
The situation destined to Terendak Camp as you have described has been sensed to prevail even in 1977, during when Gen Jamil was the GOC of 3 Div. In a meeting chaired by him that involved all COs and OCs that include those RGKMs in Sungai Udang, the main agenda was on the well being of the Camp. The GOC felt even at that time, the situation was already appalling for lack of attitudes among officers and soldiers and of course the issue of funding on maintenance. The GOC who experienced living in the Netherlands and with his Anglo-fied accent told us and describes the beautiful tulips of Holland against the lalang and semak samun of Terendak Camp. He also cited seeing at one of the living quarters, furniture.. a table of fine quality wood left by the British, stashed outside a kitchen with a batu penggiling rempah on it. The proposal of the Committee was to collect additional 'stoppages' from soldiers for the funding and this was rudely objected by the CO of the Renjer Regt. "Duduk berbulan dalam hutan.. balik tak sampai beberapa hari.. pergi pulak buat Battalion Retraining.. lepas tu masuk balik dalam hutan. Sudahlah nak kena bayar TKR Rejimen, duit masjid, swimming pool.. masa bila yang my people boleh dapat guna ini semua!!!" Everybody including the GOC was taken aback by this CO's, couldn't careless type of remark and the GOC sternly warned him that his conduct would be reported to Mindef. The GOC also put it to him, what would be his responsibility if he was also in the Commitee? "Serah balik pada Kerajaan''. That was his peduli apa punya remarks. This makes the GOC furious.
Few years ago just before Ramadhan I met Dato Ghazali Komando, over breakfast and together we related this incident, as he was the one who stood up to calm down the GOC especially the unbecoming nature of the situation was in the presence of young officers. He was referring to Megat and myself where we were the only 2Lt among Majors and Lt Cols attended the meeting. I have known the Dato not just because he was one of our instructors in RMC but since the formation of Gerak Khas in Majidee Camp in the mid 60's and so was Gen Tan Sri Che Md Noor during their 2Lt days. With the yester years feeling in his mind, he spoke with regret that officers nowadays lacked even basic courtesy. ‘Jawab talipon pun biadap', that's one of his sorrow's remark. Now you must be wondering what is this all about the 60's that I know.
Let me tell you more. I was called by the DQ of 1 Brigade to mengadap the Panglima for being absent during Musabaqah alQur'an in Seremban organised by 15 RMR in Kem Paroi. I stood in front of Brig Gen Dato Esa Ahmad along with the 2IC of the Ranger Regiment. The Major was trying to talk his way out and even I knew that it was a lame excuse. When it comes to my turn I told him that I do not have anything to offer but to admit my wrongdoing and promised that I will attend the closing ceremony function that night. My admission probably in a way, tone down the Panglima and he reminded especially the Major to consider likewise what will be his feeling if he organises something and nobody turns up. The Panglima, probably while considering and anticipating what punishment to be meted to us, asked if anyone of us has ever served under him before specifically to mean kenal atau tahu akan 'perangai' dia dan padahnya. When the Major who now feeling hopelessly guilty just shake his head, I told the Gen, 'saya belumlah pernah Dato, tapi masa ayah saya dulu ada lah'. 'Siapa ayah engkau?', I replied giving only the Regimental Number, '3060.., Dato'. The Panglima, who was a bit surprised and with no hesitant... '3060 Mohd Zain.. Encik Mat Zain? Encik Mat Zain ayah ekau? The word hand's on belum orang guna lagi pada masa tu, but that's how it was in those days, the relationship between officers and their soldiers. Anyway, it was a feat even Houdini will be proud of. That night I was standing in line with all the other officers to greet the Panglima Brigade after the closing ceremony. When he saw me, he told the Datin that was walking along with him. 'Inilah dia budaknya. Dulu kecik kecik main longkang...' The Datin was glowing with her smile anxiously asking me about my parent while the rest of the officers look on, amused. Sometime later, I was the only officer among so many ladies in a meeting of wives of officers and NCOs in preparation to organise kueh Raya for soldiers on duty in the border, chaired by the wife of the then and the late Lt Col Hasbullah Komando. One of the points raised was the packaging, where to get plastics and boxes? The Panglima who just happen to walk in and said, 'Apa susah.. kan Tawkey kita ada ni', pointing at me’. Also later on, I stood in front of the Major as he was the DS in the Lt to Capt, Tactic practical exam and you can guess how I faired.
The year 1977/78 saw politics drew centre stage in the history of the Army when the PM, Hussein Onn favours and promoted Maj Gen Ghazali Seth also a Johorean against the more illustrious Maj Gen Mahmud Sulaiman for the CGS post. The DEB or NEP also brought down the monopoly of Tan Chong as sole Contractor and brought about Bumiputera entrepreneurs into the business and almost all are directly or indirectly associated with political figures. The restructuring was a mess and there were Contractors that failed to perform. I was in a room with all the KP's COs, Lt Kol Kassim (koboi) Ahmad, Lt Kol Zulkifli Kushairi who later becomes the Orang Besar Jajahan (OBJ) in Parit Buntar, Perak and Lt Kol Osman ‘4 by 4’. Though I was just a subaltern among them however having to address issues together, make me feel recognised and comfortable. 'How can I'm the one to go around and educate them tuan'. I was referring to the bloody Contractors. Lt Kol Kassim added, 'engkau punya post tu bukan Lt Muda punya kerja itu Nal, tapi Lt Kol'. They were all somewhat sympathised with me since the establishment of 6 Supply was a Capt's appointment and I do not even have an AO to assist me let alone talk of pay of higher rank. It was non-existence in MSC or now Kor Perkhidmatan DiRaja. Mind you, I was in charge of two states, Negri Sembilan and Melaka. I don't remember the CO having to meddle with the day to day running of the Supply unit. Later when I finally submitted my request to leave the service about 9 months before my ROD, Lt Kol Kassim, when he interviewed me to endorse my application, remarks: 'Your father can take it for 21 years., Zainal'. I told him that it has got nothing to do with it and he agrees when we talk about it that the army was no more what it was used to be and wished me all the best.

Prior to that I had infact signed to extend my service however requested the adjutant, Salleh retired Lt Gen Dato', mantan DMI to hold it as I wish to withdraw and resign my commission. To my surprise and without the CO calling me for an appraisal Salleh told me that the CO had signed the recommendation and the application is already at MSC Directorate and though I requested him to liaise with the Directorate not to pursue it, few months later it was approved and published dalam PAQ and warta kerajaan! Dulu bukan senang boleh nak berhenti bila bila masa. I was lucky as my sister in law who was a PTD in MINDEF and thru aruah Dato Ali Dollah finally received a message a day before my ROD date that reads, tertakluk kapada kelulusan MAT, lembaga pegawai no 2B telah menerima dan meluluskan permohonan teman untuk menamatkan perkhidmatan and few months after that when I was working in a bus company in Teluk Anson, now Teluk Intan, my former unit 6 Supply in Terendak, sent me a ctc letter that reads, tertakluk kepada perkenan DYMM SPB Yang diPertuan Agong MAT telah meluluskan blah blah blah.. "In my stars, I'm above thee but be not not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.." Shakespeare's twelfth night, 1602.  
My beloved father passed away in the mid 80's and one of them who was there for the funeral just before Friday prayer was Ex Brig Gen Dato’ Mansor who was then a Capt and OC of C Coy, 4 RMR where my father was the CSM. My father retired in 1967 and Brig Gen Dato’ Esa Ahmad was the CO. Those days you rarely see children outside their houses or quarters after 9 or 10 pm as there were no activities or even TV. When there's a movie shown in the Sgt Mess, the parents and their children will be smartly dressed and the NCOs wore coat. Those AKC (later on SKC) movies sometime ends long into the midnight and I remember holding my father's hand when I was still a kid, together standing in attention when the Bugler sounded the ' Reveille or the Last Post..'


Tribute to my father : 3060 Mohd Zain Bin Abdul Samad. Royal Malay Regt.



Berdiri dikanan dan gambar atas berpangkat L/Kpl duduk di tengah
Gambar atas, Capt Mansor and WO 2 Mohd Zain dan dibawah semasa Mes Night. Dari kiri Ghani dan paling kanan ialah Malik, mantan Provost Mashall dan disebelah beliau ialah Rahman ‘rimau’
Officers and Gentlemen of 4 RMR, Majidee Camp JB 1966. CO Lt Col Esa Ahmad and beside him on the right is Mej Mohamad (Mat Uban)
Above : The Warrant Officers and wives during their Mess Night at Majidee Camp in the mid sixties and below bersantai and tengok wayang at the Sergeant Mess in the early sixties.
Mejor Jeneral (B) Dato Ghazali bin Ibrahim. Komando




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