RMAF officers recall stint as UN peacekeepers

Photo used for illustration purposes only

BATU PAHAT – It was an unforgettable ‘eye opener’ for peace for two former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officers who were selected to serve under the United Nations (UN).

For Major (Rtd) Chong Ah Watt who served for 27 years in the security forces, the most memorable experience was when on duty at the borders of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the late 1970s.

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At that time, he said the RMAF team was one of the first to arrive in the turbulent region, thus becoming the front line that had to deal with the rebels who did not want foreign troops in their country.

“The RMAF soldiers at that time also played a role in maintaining air traffic control at the borders of the three countries so that there would be no intrusion and subsequent attacks via the airspace,” he said when met after the 2020 Johor RMAF Veterans Association Second Annual General Meeting which was officiated by Semarang assemblyman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali at Dewan Muafakat Ayer Hitam here, today.

Chong, 62, who hails from Rembau, feels that he is lucky to have had the opportunity to bring honour to the country by serving abroad and hopes that the peace in this country that is enjoyed now is continued, as well as unity is maintained among its multi-racial population.

“I hope the unity we have built over the years is maintained for all our good,” said Chong, who is the father of three children and the grandfather of two.

For Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Adzhar Hamdan, who hails from Muar, Johor, his most challenging task was when he joined 100 members of the security forces during the unrest in Timor-Leste in 2000 when facing the liberation of the country from Indonesia.

According to the 56-year-old veteran, while on duty there, he felt his life was constantly in danger when faced with rebels every day who were fully armed with heavy machine guns and so on.

“The RMAF team was often in the front line when meeting the rebel groups involved, apart from being interpreters when there are negotiations between the UN and the ‘separatist forces”.

“This is because only the troops from Malaysia can understand their language, where as most UN peacekeepers on duty at that time only spoke English,” he said, adding that the Malaysian forces always played a role in fostering unity and peace when serving under the UN.

Like Chong, he also hoped that the unity and peace of this country is maintained, especially when remembering the sufferings of the people in the war-torn countries while serving under the United Nations.

— BERNAMA