KUALA LUMPUR: Visitors to the National Monument (Tugu Negara) on an early Saturday morning recently witnessed something very rare and special as about 200 former servicemen and servicewomen from the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) gathered to remember and pay homage to their fallen comrades.
Organised by the Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (MACVA) on Oct 12, former armed forces personnel who came from near and far gathered as early as 7am for the Remembrance Day ceremony that is in its second year.
For the Remembrance Day ceremony, the veterans and other guests in attendance sang Negaraku, The Last Post, Reveille, Inilah Barisan Kita, and paid their respects to their fallen comrades by holding a minute’s silence and laying wreaths.
Thereafter they mingled freely with one another to catch up and recall fond and bitter memories of fighting to safeguard the country’s interest and sovereignty during the Second World War, the communist insurgency and the confrontation, just to name a few.
According to MACVA vice-president, Captain (Rtd) Datuk Lee Kwang Lock, formerly of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), for their Remembrance Day initiative, they enjoy good support not just from the association’s members but also from other fellow veterans associations as well.
“Last year the turnout was about 140 former serviceman and servicewomen, but this year we have managed to gather more than 160. We are humbled to have very good support not only from our very own MACVA members, but also from other veterans associations, such as the Malay, Sikh and Indian associations. It’s good that we have everyone regardless of race or religion because the armed forces are made up of personnel from all races.
“Nowadays, remembrance and commemorative ceremonies are all done in Putrajaya, so we still feel strongly that such a special place as this, the National Monument, should be very much appreciated.
“Last year when we began with our Remembrance Day effort, it was approved by the authorities and it proved to be a success, which is why we are continuing with it.
“We hope that it will carry on so that more and more people, not just those from the armed forces, but society at large, especially the future generation, will know of its significance and value of the many sacrifices made by our armed forces,” said Lee, who served for 39 years in the Navy from 1973 to 2012.
Lt Colonel (Rtd) Carol Loo Lee Fum, a former army intelligence officer who served from 1978 to 2008, was one of the first female officers in the armed forces.
She said that she was determined to serve her beloved country despite initial objections from her family when she first enlisted. Fast forward to the present day, she has no regrets, but is instead proud to have served the country.
“I am a committee member with MACVA since it was founded in early 2016, and along with the rest of the veterans, we are very proud to hold such ceremony to pay homage to our fallen comrades.
“We hope to continue to do so, as apart from acknowledging the sacrifices of the country’s armed forces personnel, we hope that our fellow Malaysians will realise the importance of the role played by the armed forces in protecting the country during the early years of independence,” Loo pointed out.
Colonel (Rtd) Yunos Othman, formerly of the Royal Malay Regiment, served the country from 1966 to 1994 not just on Malaysian soil, but also overseas with the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Namibia.
He hoped that present and future societies would be able to learn as much as possible how the armed forces personnel treat and respect one another regardless of religion, colour or creed.
“We have all gathered here today (Saturday) not just to pay our respects to our fallen brothers and sisters who served the country with honour and valor, but to also forge closer ties and strengthen the bonds of friendship and camaraderie among those of us that were lucky enough to have survived, be it from the army, navy or air force.
“We come from just about every nook and corner of the country from different backgrounds of society and ethnicity, but in the armed forces, we are one big family of brothers and sisters who have a huge amount of respect and understanding for one another which has never waivered.
“I also sincerely hope that through such a Remembrance Day event, our fellow Malaysians will appreciate all that we have done, given and sacrificed for our beloved country, as in one way or another, we have contributed to the peace and prosperity enjoyed today ,” Yunos said.