Letter: Soldiers Don’t Eat and Sleep

Mr Koon Yew Yin, I refer to your Facebook posting on Sunday, August 12 in which you made the following statement, “As you know, the Armed Forces personnel are doing nothing except eating and sleeping. In fact, almost all of them have never fired a shot except at target practice. Some of them should replace the foreign workers in the FELDA plantations.”

I was completely disgusted and appalled when I read that statement of yours. It shows that you are completely ignorant about the roles and functions of the military.

It is easy to say that the military “is doing nothing except eating and sleeping” in peacetime. Please realise that our main role is in war. The Armed Forces is an insurance policy the country takes to defend its sovereignty and its status as an independent nation. We, the military and veterans abhor war, but the nature of international politics tells us that we cannot afford to compromise and take chances insofar as national interests are concerned. The military acts as a deterrent to potential aggressors and if deterrence fails, then to fight and win wars.

Even in peacetime, the military has made many important contributions to the security and well-being of the country such as:

  1. We fought against the communist insurgents from 1948 to 1989, in the jungles of Sarawak and along the Malaysia-Thai border.
  2. During the May 13, 1969, tragedy the military was the only institution able to ensure and upkeep the internal security of the country.
  3. Sporadic military situations like attacks by the Al-Ma’unah militant group and the Lahad Datu incursion.
  4. The military takes part in international peacekeeping operations where our troops had excelled.

The military is the institution to turn to in all major humanitarian relief operations around the country, such as floods.

While reading this there are thousands of men and women who are now ‘on duty’ in the defence of the country. They are there in the deepest of jungles, on the high seas, on the highest of mountains and in isolated military bases, working under very tough conditions so that citizens of this country are able to live in peace. These ‘faceless’ men and women make these sacrifices in complete disregard for their own safety and comfort 24/7.

Hence it is imperative that you and the general public in Malaysia appreciate the fact that the military is a very professional organisation which is not given enough credit for the work that they do. The military has repeatedly defended and protected our freedom. Their noble obligation and responsibility deserve our utmost gratitude.

Had the military not kept the peace in Malaysia, you would not have had the environment to start-up and expand your business. Servicemen sacrificed their comfort and well-being to ensure that people like you can get on with your lives and to sleep peacefully at night. You have taken the military for granted and are not grateful for our past and present sacrifices. In fact, I find your post disrespectful and most discourteous to us.

Mr Koon, if you still think that the military does not bring in any tangible benefits to the country, I say this to you:

“I hope and pray that our armed forces will never have to undertake the ultimate task it’s trained for – going to war. But should a war break out, rest assured we, servicemen and veterans, will be at the forefront defending this country till the very end. I don’t know about you.”

Lt-Col Heera Singh (Rtd)

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