The Perak Public Library Board organised a talk by two former military officers titled, “Program Bicara Tokoh Perajurit” (Talk by Warrior Soldiers). It was conducted in conjunction with the nation’s 57th Merdeka Day celebration. The event was held at the state library along Jalan Caldwell, Ipoh recently.
The two former soldiers who graced the event were Lieutenant-Colonel Dr Syed Othman bin Syed Omar (Retired) and Major Nor Ibrahim bin Sulaiman (Retired). They recounted their experiences and exploits during the height of the Second Malaysian Emergency (1975 to 1989).
Colonel Othman started his military career as a recruit undergoing basic military training at the Recruit Training Centre, Port Dickson in 1972. His leadership qualities enabled him to be picked to attend officer cadet training at the Royal Military College, Sungei Besi in 1977. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Malay Regiment.
While leading his platoon during a search and destroy mission in Gubir, Kedah Othman stepped on a land mine. Splinters from the terrorist-laid explosive damaged both his eyes causing him to lose the use of his eyesight. He soldiered on regardless and enrolled in courses to improve himself academically. Othman has written a couple of books detailing his challenges as a “walking wounded” in the army.
Major Nor Ibrahim was an active helicopter pilot in the Royal Malaysian Air Force before his retirement in 1999. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Malaysian Artillery on completion of his officer cadet training at the Royal Military College, Sg Besi in 1969. When a proposal was made to form an army air wing to assist the air force in the deployment of ground troops into troubled areas, Nor Ibrahim answered the challenge. He underwent training at the Sungei Besi air force base flying light and medium-lift helicopters.
Upon completion of the flight training and the non-formation of the much-anticipated army air wing, Nor Ibrahim was assigned to the 10th Squadron of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, which was based in Kuantan.
During his tenure as a copter pilot he was involved in many missions flying troops and supplies into some of the most hostile regions of the country then. He endured some harrowing moments when he was shot at by communist terrorists from the ground when he approached a LP (landing point) at Bukit Berapit and Lapangan Nenering near Kroh (now Pengkalan Hulu). His copter was badly damaged but, miraculously, he escaped unscathed. Major Nor Ibrahim was awarded the Pingat Tentera Udara for his bravery.
Chairman of the Perak Public Library Board, Puan Salbiah binti Mohamed, told reporters that the purpose of this talk was to instill patriotism in Ipohites by informing them the significance of being an independent nation and the exploits of those who fought and gave their lives in defence of the country.
“Our country has gone through many upheavals. I hope Ipohites, especially the youths, understand the meaning of “Merdeka” from this talk. The sacrifices made by these two gentlemen are not small. They’re the epitome of a true Malaysian warrior who gave their best for the well-being of the nation,” she said.
The ceremony continued with the official launching of the programme and ended with the presentation of souvenirs to the two former military officers.