SEGAMAT – Despite their age difference and coming from different social backgrounds, their mutual love for Malaysian war history has kept three friends close and inseparable.
And what’s more interesting, they also collect pictures, videos, as well as memorabilia from the past to the present and will re-enact the historical moments for the benefit of education.
For Rizal Md Misrom, his love for history started back when he was in Form 2.
“When I was a child, I used to love watching a drama series called ‘Combat’ played by Vic Morrow on the television. When my father bought me a toy rifle, I used to play pretend, re-enacting war battle and using many pillows as my fort,” he said with a smile during an interview with Bernama, recently.
Rizal, who at that time was living at a palm oil estate at Batu 25, Kulai, was told by a friend that there was a wreckage of a Japanese war aircraft that was shot down during World War II (WWII).
“So I went there and started collecting bits and pieces that were related to the aircraft for keepsake. That was my first war collections and from then I started to collect anything related to the past,” said the 47-year old man, clad in an Australian army uniform reproduction.
The father of four has until now collected more than 100 items including sets of army uniforms, helmet webbing, parts of original bayonet, parts of Japanese instruction manual on aircraft, British-owned gas masks used during WWII and many others.
For Mohd Shafie Abd Latiff, his interest in history started way back but could only be followed through seriously since last year after retiring from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
While reminiscing, the 43-year old man from Buloh Kasap, here, said he always scored full marks in History but not in other subjects.
“When I joined RMAF, it reinforced my interest in military history. The British bayonet found by my father, Abd Latiff Ali, after the Battle of Buloh Kasap, which had been passed down to me, is also one of my prized possession,” said the father of two, who also owns a reproduction of a Japanese army uniform that cost him quite a fortune.
The youngest among the three, Aisyamuddin Abd Latip said he hoped that more young people would follow his footsteps in having deep interests in the country’s history.
“Rizal taught me a lot of things about history since following him at the age of 20,” said the 25-year old lad, who acted as Bernama tour guide, showing all the historical sites in Segamat.
During the interview, Aisyamuddin who was also clad in Japanese army uniform and Rizal took the time to re-enact some scenes of the Battle of Buloh Kasap, which took place during the WWII.
The three who regard themselves as a war re-enactors group – We are Reenactors (WAR) Malaysian Recruiting Center – on Facebook has so far registered more than 600 members.
All of them bear the same hope that more opportunity is given to reenact historical moments like war for the benefit of future generation.
“War re-enactment is not new in some parts of the world, they even did that to attract visitors or as tourist attraction so that they understand the local history.
“We have a lot of places that have interesting history that can be projected into reenactment, or revive the historical moments so that future generation will know,” said Rizal, who had contributed some scenes for a History channel in 2013.
As for Mohd Syafie, war re-enactments in Malaysia were usually used during Merdeka Parade and important events.
“Re-enactment is not to relive the war, but more for the purpose of education. For example, to know the different kinds of uniform worn by various units and also the weapons used.
“It is not only for the younger generation but also for the public. Sometimes, it’s important to show the right uniform to avoid confusion. When people see a certain uniform, they immediately relate it to communists or it can be politicised, while the truth is that it’s not a communist uniform. That is why a re-enactment with proper sets of uniforms and equipment can educate people,” he added.