Six members of our RAFOC Executive Committee and one of our RAFOC Auditors, led by our Deputy President, Jen Tan Sri Dato' Seri Abd Rahman bin Abd Hamid, (Bersara) attended a one-day seminar organized by PBTM on Sunday, 7 July 2013 from 0900 to 1700 hours at the Royale Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The seminar was aimed at getting the representatives of all the Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs together and to discuss a number of issues related to the veterans' welfare and well being. 30 Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs and all the 13 PBTM divisions were invited to sent two or three representatives each.

Out of the 30 Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs invited, 22 sent their representatives. A total of 200 or so participants attended - presidents, advisors and committee members of the various Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs, of various retired ranks, and from the different Services/Corps/Regiments. Some were in their corporate attires whilst a few were casually dressed.

The opening of the seminar was officiated by YB. Datuk Abdul Rahim bin Bakri, Deputy Minister of Defence. Also present at the opening ceremony were the Secretary General Ministry of Defence, the Chairman of PERHEBAT and the Director General of JHEV.

In his opening address, Laksamana Tan Sri Dato' Setia Mohd Anwar bin Mohd Nor (Bersara), President of PBTM outlined the need for the various Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs to come together in order for the veterans to have one strong voice in raising issues with the relevant authorities. The seminar that morning was a start in getting these associations/clubs to come together. Tan Sri Mohd Anwar also briefed the seminar on the direction and activities of PBTM under his leadership and outlined some of the major veterans' issues currently being addressed by PBTM.

In officiating the opening of the seminar, YB. Deputy Minister of Defence said that the Government recognized the contributions and sacrifices by the Armed Forces veterans whilst they were in service and would continue to look after the well being and the welfare of the Armed Forces veterans and their families through JHEV and PERHEBAT.

Other than the briefing by Ketua Pengarah JHEV on the Akta Veteran 2012, there were three other papers presented for discussion by the seminar, as follow:

  1. Pencen Veteran Tentera: Kaedah & Pendekatan Merapatkan Jurang Perbezaan.
  2. Masaalah Perumahan Tentera: Jalan Penyelesaian Menyeluruh.
  3. Bekas Tentera Diberhentikan Di Bawah Para 48 dan 49: Arah Tuju dan Masa Hadapan Mereka.

Mej Jen Dato' Zulkiflee bin Mazlan, Ketua Pengarah JHEV briefed the seminar on the background and the content of the Akta Veteran 2012. The Akta Veteran 2012, which was passed by Parliament and consented by SPB Yang DiPertuan Agong on 30 January 2012 was yet to be implemented, awaiting the details in the process and procedures related to the implementation of the Akta. Those present expressed their concern on the procedure for the re-registration of their associations/clubs from ROS to JHEV. Many felt that it should be an administrative transfer from ROS to JHEV and that the current registration of the associations/clubs need not be terminated with ROS to be followed by a new registration with JHEV as stipulated in the Akta, since various issues might arise with such a procedure.

In the first paper, Brig Jen Dato' Adnan bin Ali, (Bersara), a former Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff (Personnel Service), Armed Forces HQ, presented various aspects related to the pensions and benefits for the retired Armed Forces personnel (with and without pension), including the anomalies and the vast difference on the pensions of those of the same rank who retired earlier with those who retired recently.

The second paper, presented by Kapt Sharuddin bin Omar, (Bersara), Deputy President of PBTM, touched on the issues related to the housing needs of the veterans, in particular on the quota, the financing and the capability of veterans to purchase houses with their pension income. A proposal was also made that a "Veterans' Home" be built to provide a place for those who could not afford to buy houses to have a place to stay.

The third paper by Mej Sazali bin Hj Ismail, (Bersara), Vice President I of PBTM, identified that there were more than 10,000 Armed Forces personnel (10% were officers) whose services were terminated due to disciplinary ground or on ground that their services were no longer required. As such, they and their families were not entitled to the benefits as Armed Forces veterans such as medical, education and the benefit under SVTB1M, etc. The paper recommended that these group of "veterans" who have served their punishment and repented, must be brought and accepted back into the fold of the Armed Forces veterans and be accorded due care and be looked after, including their families.

Our RAFOC Deputy President, Jen Tan Sri Dato' Seri Abd Rahman bin Abd Hamid, (Bersara) was given the honour to address the seminar. In his speech, Tan Sri Abd Rahman supported the idea in getting the various associations/clubs together in order for the Armed Forces veterans to have a strong voice in the various issues.

In his closing speech, Tan Sri Mohd Anwar thanked the participants for their attendance and views. He said that PBTM would look into the mechanism in organising the various veterans' associations/clubs to be together and the mechanism on forwarding the various issues to the relevant authorities. He felt that the seminar should be held at least once a year to allow the various associations/clubs to put forward their views on various issues related to the Armed Forces veterans.

All in all it was a good start to get the various Armed Forces veterans' associations/clubs together, to identify the various issues related to the Armed Forces veterans and to find an amicable approach to resolve these issues with the relevant authorities. With one strong voice and with one approach, more could be done. Our congratulations and thank you to Tan Sri Mohd Anwar and his PBTM Exco for initiating the get-together and to the PBTM Secretariat for organizing the seminar - it was well done. The aim to get the various Armed Forces veterans' association/clubs together was met. We now look forward to PBTM to be the umbrella and to provide the leadership.