Valour and Courage: Malaysian professional arms has its roots in the 1971 death of Capt. V.M. Chandran SP by M.G.G. Pillai - Sunday, June 13, 2004, 08:03 pm
Death or Glory
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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Malaysian professional arms has its roots in the 1971 death of Capt. V.M. Chandran SP by M.G.G. Pillai - Sunday, June 13, 2004, 08:03 pm
Tuesday, August 07, 2018

THIRTEENTH OF JUNE 1971. What happened 33 years ago on this day is remembered by a negligible few, in the armed forces, in the 4 Renjer Bn, even in its C Company.
I asked several retired and serving officers about it. A few of the former officers remembered. One asked his colleagues at the time by email and SMS if they could remember what happened on that. None could. But at least 4 Renjer (or Rangers, in English) and its C Company should have. On that day the commanding officer of C Company, Capt. V. 'Ray' Mohanachandran SP, died in an ambush on a well-fortified and bunkered Communist Party of Malaya base in Tanjong Rambutan, Perak, on the periphery of a Police Field Force camp, that earned him the Malaysian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
That he died gallantly, leading his men from the front into battle, is now undisputed, although the rush to blame him was relentless at the time. There was still the fairness and professionalism then that now seems lacking, and the blame was laid not on him, as his seniors would have liked, but on the seniors themselves. The Intelligence Officer or IO of 2 Bde, who ordered Capt. Chandran by radio to attack the camp, had kept a detailed log book and which contained the operational blunders at battalion, brigade and division headquarters, was sent inexplicably on leave.
When he returned, his log book went missing. Capt. Chandran, his close friend, told him this could well be goodbye for ever, and in jest to request a "Papa Golf Bravo" for him! Within two hours, at about 2.50 pm, he was dead. Papa Golf Bravo stood for the PGB, the second highest Malaysian award for gallantry. When the dust settled, he was awarded posthumously the Seri Pahlawan Gaga Perkasa or the SP, an award with a higher protocol ranking than a Tun. He was, if my memory serves me right, the first army officer to die in combat with the CPM after hostilities ended in 1960.
Capt. Chandran, 24, passed out of Portsea, the Australian Sandhurst, and, according to his friends, meticulous and painstaking to a fault. When he investigated - or, in military slang, recce'd - reports of an MCP presence, he found a well fortified and bunkered camp and between 40 and 60 well-armed men. The 5th Assault Unit was an advance party of the CPM to reinstate their lost strongholds, and had established a beach head at this spot, as they moved south along the Main Range to Cameron Highlands to Pahang, where the 6th Assault Unit was to establish a base in the Tras-Raub area, where in the 1950s, the MCP had a semi-permanent base.
Chin Peng was there for a while. The Police Special Branch and the 2 Bde, to which 4 Renjer were attached, had been tracking the CPM's advance party to the south but missed out the 5 Assault Unit establishing a permanent base in the Tanjong Rambutan. Two groups from 4 Renjer was sent out to recconoitre the area. Capt Chandran's C Company's report was disbelieved. Headquarters insisted there could not be more than half a dozen CPM men, and that was how he went in to die.
His was not the only death; there were heavy casualties on both sides. He had led his C Company to certain death for the ground was as he had radioed brigade headquarters, and the CPM's 5th Assault Unit made mince meat out of him and his company. What was not known at the time was the 5th Assault Unit was led by the CPM's strategic and tactical genius, Chong Chor. Years later, he surrendered with his wife, who was then seriously ill, to a senior Special Branch officer, in Rawang, after weeks of negotiations.
At the time, the Special Branch intelligence in Tanjong Rambutan was wrong, and Capt. Chandran was spot on. Chong Chor's wife died since, and he, now in his 80s, is reported to be living in the area. Until a few years ago, the officer who took the surrender, then years into retirement, would visit him. It stopped only when he moved out of Kuala Lumpur. What he told me of how he built a working relationship with Chong Chor amazes me to this day. But we talk of an epoch that would never come back. Superious intelligence, attention to painstaking detail, respect for the enemy, fair play were all in ample supply.
When the ground dropped from under them, many a CPM man accepted the good faith of the enemy and happily surrendered to them. That would not be possible now, for the hostility inherent towards the enemy, whoever he is, is so total, that none in the government would dare speak well of a gallant enemy. The hostility towards Chin Peng and his men returning to Malaysia after the CPM formally surrended and ended the conflict in the late 1980s is one sign of that. Now the enemy is different. It is Islamic fundamentalism. But one is not sure if there is such a pressure or if it is a convenient label to put on a political rival by linking him to a global enemy.
But we as a nation have descended into the colonial practice of cruelty and violence, often for no reason than the whims and fancies of the officer in charge. As Gillo Pontecorvo's film masterpiece, "The Battle of Algiers", of the confrontation between the Algerian freedom fighters and the French colonial power, shows, violence and harshness would win the battle but not the war. But when a nation is used to unspeakable violence and brutality, the call for a humane and intelligent approach to the problem is not only anathema but treachery as well.
I run ahead of the story of Capt. Chandran. The 2nd Div commander, Maj.-Gen. Osman 'Otto", as he was known, insited he wanted to be directly involved in the follow up. Two regiments, 12 and 13 Royal Malay Regiment, were deployed for the counter-attack. The 13 RMR was led by the very professional Lieut.-Col. 'Robert' Mahmood; the 12 RMR by Lieut.-Col. Abdul Rahman Abdul Rashid, whose blood pressure shot up so dangerously that he had to be replaced by a 3 Recce Officer, Maj. Kenny Siebel, the first time ever that a non-Malay or non-British officer had commanded an RMR. The present chief of the armed forces chief, General Tan Sri Zaidi Zainuddin, also commanded this regiment and when he cowered in fear when it established contact with the CPM. But this is also the regiment commanded by the legendary Lieut.-Col. Raja Aman Shah, whose men would march with pride to certain death had he so desired.
The troops were ready, and in battle formation, in their trucks and in their planes and helicopters. But Gen. Osman was no where around; he was playing cards in the 2 Div officers' mess, and none dare interrupt him. The planes, helicopters and trucks were fuelled with the men on board, waiting for the orders that came too late. The enemy by then had blown. If that counter attack had taken place, it could well have stopped the infilitration much earlier, and billions of ringgit could have been spared for other major expenditure.
The interference of commanders who did not know the battle ground made it worse. It was the beginning of the chain of events that led only last week to the field marshal's pennant placed upside down on the official vehicle the Yang Dipertuan Agung took the salute on his birthday on 05 June 2004. In the wake of the 13 May 1969 riots and the ensuing UMNO political coup and its Malay only policy in all areas of the administration, the armed forces turned political, lost its professionalism, and all but gave up the ghost.
The armed forces is still paying the price for it. Was Capt. Chandran's sacrifice worth it, with or without the posthumous SP to his name? Yes. It is heroes like him that enhances the reputation and professionalism of the armed forces. He led from the front. His men would go any lengths to not let him down. But does the Malaysian Armed Forces of 2004 know or care for that sacrifice? Or indeed of any other? I am not sure.
Source : Alam Faizli bin Mohd Zain................
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:00 PM  
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