When I was a kid in the early '60s I used to hang around in the Police Field Force Camp near my home with my many Dayak buddies. I was always warmly welcomed by the wonderful folks living there. From my buddies and their folks I would hear warm and often heart-wrenching stories of great courage by the Sarawak rangers who were trained by the British and fought for them against the communist militants (terrorists as they were called then) and also the invading Indonesian troops. Many of these fearless dedicated fighters fought hard to accomplish their set mission, protecting their comrades, saving others who were wounded at their own risks, wounding or killing their enemies in the process. Many lost their lives, leaving grieving widows and children behind to mourn their loss. Many of them were subsequently, posthumously awarded citations such as the King George medal for bravery by the grateful British.
Following Sarawak's independence (together with Sabah and Singapore) in partnership with the federated Malayan states, the Rangers would become the Sarawak Police Field Force.
These incredible warriors would continue to sacrifice their lives in the bloody confrontation with the CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) and the CCO (Clandestine Communist Organization) in Borneo.
In 1969, the Sarawak PFF would show Malaysia and the world their impartiality in handling the tragic May 13 race riots in Kuala Lumpur. Long before the the latest present well-written book came out about the riots, I was told a lot about the important role of the well-disciplined Sarawak Police Field Force soldiers. The veterans who were in KL had similar stories about the regular Malaysian army's lack of impartiality in quelling the riots.
In the late '60s and '70s I used to enjoy watching some of the past proud traditions of the Rangers in their smart military fatigues being ceremonially displayed in public parades and in its camp in Miri. One of the displays used to be the trooping of colors. The PFF soldiers also used to play an important role in maintaining law and order in the streets, together with the local police.
Now, it seems that the Sarawak Police Field soldiers have all quietly faded away. It is a puzzle as to why this should be, considering that in any country, a well-trained disciplined loyal home front role other than the army itself, would safeguard its citizens better than the present formation of the units of part-time less professional volunteers, presently known as RELA.
The following tribute is to these decent courageous Dayak fighters and the SAS force that trained and fought with them in the successful campaign against insurgency in the '50s and '60s.
By the way, before I headed to Canada in the '80s I dropped by the impressive Police Museum in Kuching and I could see the names, pictures and award citations of a number of Dayak heroes who lost their lives in the jungle war. I haven't been back to the museum since but I hope the pics are still there and remain the same, considering how fast history (in school textbooks and other media) is changing in Malaysia!
p.s. Besides the Rangers, the Sarawak Border Scouts also played a courageous role in the fight against the invading Indonesians. The much loved late Dr. Judson Tagal was one of the brave souls who was one of them.
COMING SOON! Some memorable action pics...