Cambridge English Dictionary defined 'veteran' as (1) a person who has had a lot of experience of a particular activity and (2) a person who was once a member of the Armed Forces. It was from the Latin word vetus meaning 'old'. Military Veterans are soldiers that have served the Armed Forces and were discharged honourably upon completion of their term of service. They served their country with dedication in their years of service and should be remembered for their noble sacrifices. Those that were exposed or participated in military conflicts may be referred to as War Veterans. Those that fought in combat or engaged in skirmish against a known enemy are called Combat veterans.
Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) Veterans have served and protect the sovereignty of the country through the Malayan Emergency (1948 -1960), Confrontation (1963 - 1966), Counter Insurgency Warfare (1968 - 1989). They also do the country proud by serving in United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Mission. The MAF first UN operation was in the Democratic Replubic of Congo. A total of 42 Officers and 571 soldiers took part in Organization Nation Unes au Congo (ONUC) from September 1960 to May 1963. It was in 1952 that many Veterans then joined the Malayan Army to serve and protect the country. Among the many Malaysian young men were Lee Ah Liek and Leong Swee Thin.
They both attended recruit training at Malacca and were assigned to 1st Federation Regiment (1 Fed Regt). Both of them served with ONUC in the Malaysian Special Forces (MSF) with 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment (2 Recce). Both are very proud of what they had contributed through their years of dedicated service in the MAF and are being awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) for their service to the country. Lee Ah Liek and Leong Swee Thin are often seen together in Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans (MACCs) activities around Ipoh. Both stay in Ampang, Ipoh with their wives and Leong always drive Lee to breakfast and 'Yum Char' session.
The camaraderie and comradeship that they shared over their tenure in the MAF have development into a close friendhsip in their retirement years. It is also sasid that only a veteran feel and understand another veteran best. The followings are short accounts of their service and adventures in Congo and MAF.
"True friendship multiplies the good in life and divide its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island.... to find one real friend in a lifetimee is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing"
WOII Lee Ah Liek (Rtd)
Lee Ah Liek Lee) was born on the 28th of October, 1938 in Taiping. His father Lee Weng hailed from Canton, China and was an ironsmith with the Kamunting Tin Dredging Company. Lee had his early education in Pui Choy Kamunting Chinese Primary school and continue his secondary education at Hua Lian High School, Taiping.
On 12th of December 1958; a young Lee Ah Liek (Lee) joined the Army. He was generally impressed by the smartness of uniform soldiers coming and going about from Kamunting Camp. Lee was assigned to 1 Fed Regt and spent the next 6 months undergoing recruit training in Camp Tg Keling, Malacca. At the end of the vigorous training, he qualified together with 120 men recruits and were recognized as trained soldiers. He was subsequently transferred back to 1 Fed Regt based in Camp Sg Udang, Malacca where he further underwent 2 weeks of Advance Jungle Warfare training. Lee was assigned to D Company (Coy).
D Coy 1 Fed Regt was later attached to 4 Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) based in Batu 10 Camp, Mentakab to assist in operation to track down the last group of 4 communist terrorists in Sg Ruan, Raub, Pahang. The mission was successfully where the remaining enemies were shot dead and the area being declared white. D Coy move back to Camp Sg Udang and subsequently the Government converted 1 Fed Regt to 1st Reconnaissance Regt (1 Recce) and Federation Armored Car Regiment (FACR) to 1 Recce also known as 2 Peninjau.
On 12th of December, 1962; Lee with Support Squadron (Spp Sqn) 1 Recce left to serve under ONUC in Congo, Africa. He and his Coy buddies were transported by troop carrier USS Oxford from Port Kelang to Port Darulsalam, Africa. On the way the ship stop at Bombay for refueling and logistic support. The Indian Authority allowed the Malaysian troops to disembark for a short sightseeing while the carrier was being attend to. After 14 days of sailing, they finally reach Port Dar es Salam; where they continued their journey by air; aboard UN C130 to Goma, Congo.
In Goma, they converted the old bungalow left by the Belgian nationals as their barracks. B Sqn main task were to:-
1. Provide security check in and out at the border frontier post between Rwanda and Ruendi.
2. Provide vehicle escort duties for VIP from UN and other Head of States visiting Congo National Parks.
3. Provide security guard to Goma Airport.
After 6 months of active duty, Spp Sqn 1 Recce were transferred back to Malaya via Mombasa on the same troop carrier USS Oxford. On 1963, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya to form Malaysia. However Indonesia disagrees with this move thus leading to Confrontation between both countries. Indonesia sent their TNI (Tentera National Indonesia) troops by air to sabotage the formation. The TNI tps landed in Labis, Pontian. B Sqn 1 Recce were ordered to intercept the landing and give support to the RMR batallion (Bn) who were task to track down TNI intruders in the Labis pineapple plantation. After the incident in Labis, the Sqn moved back to Mentakab to prepare for next mission in Sarawak.
2 weeks prior to the formation of Malaysia, B Sqn 1 Recce was transported by a British troops carrier from Singapore to Kuching. Lee volunteered for this mission where B Sqn were stationed in Bau, Sarawak. The Sqn set up tents beside Bau police station. Their task involves locating and arresting enemy supporters and sympathizers. After 2 months, a Asault Pioneer section including Lee were deployed in Kg Stas, a border town between Sarawak and Indonesia. Their task was to set up a defence perimeter in the border area. After 6 months, B Ssn was transferred back to Mentakab.
In 1969, Lee was promoted as a Sergeant and was selected to attend the GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) weapon course for a month in Papakura, New Zealand. After returning from New Zealand. Lee was transferred to C Sqn as a Rifle Tp sergeant. His Sqn task includes providing escort and power support to Infantry tp movements especially in Thai border and Indonesia border areas in Sabah and Sarawak.
1n 1973, Lee was transferred to Recruit Training Center (RTC) as an Instructor until early 1976. He was then transferred back to 1 Recce, Sungala Camp where he was promoted as Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant (SQMS) and later promoted to Warrant Officer (WO) II. In 1979, Lee was Camp Sergeant Major (CSM) of 6 Brigade, Sg Petani, Kedah until his retirement in 1983.
Sgt Leong Swee Thin (Rtd)
Leong Swee Thin (Leong) was born on the 29th of January, 1938 in Kampar. His father, Leong Kam Yu hailed from Canton, China and worked as a Bus Driver for the Kampar Bus Company. Leong had his early and secondary education unitl Senior Middle 3 at Hin Chung Chinese School, Sg Siput, Perak. He joined the Army on the 12th of December 1958 and had his recruit training in Camp Tg Keling, Malacca. His penchant for joining the Army was the active life and the travelling that it offers.
Like Lee; Leong was assigned to 1 Fed Regt and later with HQ Sqn 1 Recce serving with ONUC in Congo, Africa. Leong is a trained tradesmen Driver/Operator. He left the Army in December 1968 after completing 10 years service. He was recalled back to serve the Army after the 1969 incident. In 1971, he change Corp from the Reconnaissance Regiment to the Malaysian Service Corps (MSC). He retired in 1980 while attached to 7 Rangers in Kelantan.
WOII Lee Ah Liek (Rtd) (SN:202949) have served the King and country for 25 years with dedication and loyalty. He is proud to be a Veteran and a member of Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (MACVA). After retirement in 1983, he works as Security Officer and Manager of Hotel Excelsior, Ipoh until 2003. Lee is blessed with 4 children and currently resides with his wife Low Siew Yoon at Desa Perwira, Ipoh.
Sgt Leong Swee Thin (Rtd) (SN:202906) retired in 1980 after serving the King and country with dedication for 22 years. After his retirement in 1980, he works as Caterer with Royal Perak Golf Club. He then worked as a Driving Instructor intil 2011. Leong is blessed with 3 children and currently resides with his wife Loo Nyuk Kuen at Desa Kebudayaan, Ipoh.
MACVA Archives record's MACVs contributions to the nation through their services with the MAF. It is a tribute and reminder that their services and sacrifices like many others have help paved the way of what our country have and enjoy today. MACVA is very proud of both WO2 Lee Ah Liek (Rtd) and Sgt Leong Swee Thin (Rtd) achievements and sacrifices for King and country and wishes them good spirit and good health in enjoying their well deserved retirement.
Recorded for MACVA Archives.
Maj Wong Kwai Yinn (Rtd)
10 May 19