KOTA KINABALU: Two Sabahans who each lost a leg when fighting against the communists in the 70s in Kedah were awarded the ‘Pingat Jasa Malaysia’ medal yesterday. They are Ahmed Abdul Rahman, 60, and Onjining @ Christopher Jopinol, 52. Ahmed, who lost his left leg in 1977 after stepping on a booby trap set by the communists in Gubir, Kedah.
Prior to the accident, Ahmed worked as a radioman for the army and spent most of his time inside the jungle hunting for the communists rather than at home with his family. “We had to stay in the jungle for three months before we were sent home. Even then, sometimes we got to stay only a week with our family before we were called back for duty,” he recalled.
He said that after the accident, he was sent for a medical operation in Penang hospital where he spent about a month recuperating. On recovery, he was deployed for office duties or ‘light work’ as he called it. “I never went to the fields again after that,” he said. Ahmed said that he felt happy that the government recognized what he and his fellowmen had sacrificed for the country through the award. “I don’t want to boast, but I think it is rightful we should be given such recognition. We risked our lives and limbs for the country,” he said.
Ahmed said he still remembered the pain each member of the army had to undergo when hunting for the remnants of the communist army in Gubir. “They (the communists) were still very strong then. They had people everywhere,” he said. He added that sometimes the helicopter which was supposed to transport them back to base was unable to fly due to bad weather or because the pilot was scared of being shot down by the communists.
“There were many occasions when our food rations were very low. During those times, we would make do with everything and saved even the smallest portion of bread for our consumption. Some of our friends who smoked would roll the leaves and smoke it. We also keep re-reading the same old newspapers,” he recounted his experience. Ahmed who has four children said that none of his children followed his footsteps to serve in the army. Meanwhile, Onjining who hails from Kampung Pasir Putih Putatan near here could remember vividly the pain on his leg as the booby trap exploded and tore his right foot.
“The pain was so immense. It was like having your body being ripped apart,” he said. Like Ahmed, Onjining was also flown to the Pulau Pinang hospital after the incident in 1985. At the hospital, the doctors amputated his right leg from the knee. He spent six months recuperating and after that, served the army doing office work until his retirement in 1999. Both Ahmed and Onjining are walking with an artificial leg that is hardly noticeable until they decided to point it out.
There are several other Sabah personnel who helped the country to fight communist who have yet to receive any recognition, said Ahmed. “I have been told that it has been difficult to contact them because they are living in rural areas of Sabah,” he said. He hoped that with the coverage from the media, the personnel would be able to be contacted.
From: The New Sabah Times.
Information Ministry Wary Of Blogs Highlighting Communism.
(He should be worring more if the Communist would suddenly appear infront of his doorstep. Shouldn't he?)