By Ahmad Syabil Sultan Noordin Ahmad
KUCHING, Aug 15 (Bernama) -- “I, together with (Datuk Temenggong) Kanang Langkau and other team members were involved in a 45-minutes fierce gun battle against the communists in Gunung Korbu, Perak,” recalled 1st Infantry Division commander Major General Datuk Toh Choon Siang.
Irreplaceable Toh, 59, the first longest-serving Malaysian Chinese senior military personnel in the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), will be serving the military for 42 years, nine months and eight days when he retires on Sept 16.
Undoubtedly, he inherited the warrior genes from his late father, who had served in the British Air Force during the World War II and it has been an unforgettable journey for Toh, serving the military most of his life.
As military personnel, he said, their successes then were measured by how many communist guerrillas they have captured and killed.
“If you returned from the battle empty-handed, it was considered unsuccessful. If I say that I wasn’t afraid I would be lying. Our success in tackling the communist ideology, was indeed the success of our team,” he told Bernama recently.
“At that time, the success of carrying out the body of a communist was something that we were very proud of,” said the Johor-born Toh who was growing up in Penang.
Among his long list of credits while serving the military, Toh helped solved 97 cases including the arrest of 177 illegal immigrants with a seizure worth RM1.2 million.
Toh, who holds a degree in management in 1992 (Australia) and a master's degree in defence from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said the constant efforts were required to change the perception of a career in military especially among the Chinese community.
“The Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association should publish more news in Chinese newspapers and going down to the ground at the Chinese villages to carry out promotional activities,” he said.
Meanwhile, for Lt Col (Rtd) Nartono Tungal (Rtd), 62, who was attached to the Royal Ranger Regiment and the Royal Intelligence Corps, the experience of leading a battalion in fight against a group of communist guerrillas in Kampong Batu Lapan, Tanjung Pari in Baling, Kedah, was forever etched in his heart and mind.
“It was an experience I will never forget. In the incident, three communist guerrillas were seriously injured based on the traces of blood found in the area,” said Nartono who had served in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He also urged the younger generation to stay united regardless of racial and religious background in order for the independence and comfort continued to be enjoyed by the current and future generations.
Among the units he had served during his military career were the 1st Battalion Rangers, Melaka;, 6th Brigade Sungai Petani, Kedah; 6th Rangers, Bau, Sarawak; Unit 413 in Solo Indonesia, and the 303 Infantry Battalion in Temenggor Grik, Perak.