It was probably a mess tin like the above, used by the British Army during the Second World War. His name was probably Lieutenant Ariffin bin Haji Sulaiman (Recruit No. 8), or he could have been Private Ariffin bin Abdul Rani (Recruit No. 856). The widow of one of them donated a mess tin given by her late husband to the Bukit Chandu Memorial, where both the Ariffins above, and the well-known Second-Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi (Recruit No.90) fell after putting up a gallant fight against the Imperial Japanese Army.
Just before the fall of Johor Bahru, officers and men of the First and Second Battalion of the Malay Regiment shipped their family members back to their respective hometown by train. Before his wife’s departure, Ariffin did not know what to give her as a parting gift, knowing very well he would never see them again. He quickly grabbed his mess tin as shown above and gave it to her as a token of remembrance. It was with this mess tin that she would scoop up rice to cook and feed her children, as if Ariffin was with her to bring the children up together.
As members of the Armed Forces, the Army is here to ensure that that our nation and her economic interests are guarded and protected, so that we can live earn a living and live our lives with our family peacefully and uninterrupted. We know they exist, but we often forget their role. Of late, the Armed Forces has been subjected to negative publicity, no thank you to selfish politicians who have no better thing to do than to continually undermine the institutions that safeguard the interests of the nation, to achieve political ambitions through the obliteration of public trust towards these institutions.
As a result, the Army, through the Ministry of Defence and in conjunction with the celebration of the Army’s 79th anniversary, conducted a “Army with Media” day at the Sungai Besi Premier Camp, near Kuala Lumpur. Members of the media were given the chance to participate in competitions that depict daily lives of an army personnel such as the Spike Boot trail, accessorizing the working dress (or Number 3 Uniform), camouflaging their face, filling up ammo into a rifle’s magazine, and rifle shooting competition. the event was sponsored by Sapura, Maxis, AEON and several other co-sponsors. 32 media teams including bloggers comprising of 5 members each made it to the day-long event with the hope of a better understanding between media be they the mainstream ones or from both sides of the political fence, and the Army.
I took the opportunity to interview Lieutenant-Colonel (Dr) Tan Hooi Mooi of the Army Medical Corps. A mother of four, she joined the Medical Corps in 1999 as a Captain (Professional Duty) and signed on for another five years service after completing her mandatory ten. Although her civilian counterparts working for the Ministry of Health earn more than she does, she finds it comfortable to be in the service even though there are times when she would have to leave the family to serve in areas of operation including shipboard during exercises with the Navy, or deep inside the jungle. It is good to see a non-Malay female officer attaining that rank. I spotted several non-Malay senior officers beneath several marquees entertaining journos that attended the event.
In his speech, the Minister of Defence hopes that with the event, there will be better understanding between the Army and the Media about the service and its personnel, its continuous need to evolve into a better deterrent as time goes by. The Minister also hopes that there will be a larger-scale event involving the media in conjunction with the Army’s 80th anniversary. He also hopes to get several opposition representatives to attend the event.
As for me, this fading old soldier feels glad that there is much attention given to the betterment of the Armed Forces as a whole. Housing and facilities, pay and allowances, equipment, privileges have all improved – a far cry from what it used to be during my time. Yes, I envy them, but I am also proud of them. I hope they will maintain their professionalism and will continue to, as I still do, be loyal to His Majesty the King, and to the country.