EXCEPTIONAL BRAVERY: Credit goes to army, cops, British forces

I REFER to the letter "We owe a debt to Emergency heroes" (NST, Nov 4) by Tunku Abdul Aziz.

There were many exceptionally brave men both in the military and police who displayed acts of great heroism in our fight to defeat the Communist Party of Malaya.

There is no doubt that the late former Special Branch officer Inspector Goh Chin Hee was one of them. Apparently, he played a major part in the elimination of the highest communist command in Negri Sembilan during the Emergency. His award of the George Medal (GM) by the British administration for bravery is fully deserved.

General Gerald Templar, Britain's top supremo in then Malaya, had always believed that the Emergency could only be won with the help of a good intelligence system and our Special Branch provided the best of it. These unsung heroes worked tirelessly behind the scenes in providing the security forces, both the military and police, with accurate intelligence.

I disagree with the writer who has singled out only the police as having won the war. It would be more accurate to say that the war was won by our military, police and the Commonwealth Forces, with the Special Branch playing a major role in its success.

Taking nothing away from the police who had to play multiple roles, including maintaining law and order in the country, it was the military that provided the majority of the boots on the ground and faced the full brunt of this protracted battle.

The writer's claim that the George Medal is the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross (VC) is not correct. The GM is awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery but not quite enough to be considered for the higher George Cross (GC.)

The GC is also awarded to military personnel for acts of great bravery not in face of the enemy. The George Cross ranks next to the Victoria Cross, which is awarded for "gallantry of the highest order" in face of the enemy. The VC is the highest award for valour that a British and Commonwealth serviceman can achieve. It was introduced on Jan 29, 1856, by Queen Victoria.

The writer's rebuke of the Malays and others who are ill-informed of the history of the Emergency and the vital contributions of the Malayan Chinese Special Branch officers is fully justified. However, such remarks are best directed towards wayward politicians who are often the ones who raise doubts about the courage and loyalty of the Chinese community as a whole for political mileage.

Lt Col (R) Mohd Idris bin Hassan
Kuala Lumpur