“Dulu dalam navy apasal tak komen benda ni sama CN. Dah keluar navy baru nak war warkan benda ni. Trying to what bro? Nak bagitau orang yang you’re better than we’re in the navy? C’mmon bro, kalau nak bantu navy go ahead propose which one is better and most importantly you’re willing to pass through all the red tapes. Janganlah nak mengecil ngecilkan orang tak baik. At least we’re better than you. Nothing, and tong kosong. What do you get?”
Initially, I wasn’t sure whether to respond to the above comment, or simply flush it down the toilet. Neither was I sure what medium to write – Banjar, English or Malay.
Since the highly learned Mr ‘brother seawolf’ could not grasp the gist of the article “Serigala Laut & Taming Sari” which was written in Malay, I am left with only two options to choose from – to respond in the language that I was brought up with (Banjar), or to reply in the medium of instructions of the RMN of my era, i.e. English.
Considering his claim “At least we’re better than you”, writing in a primitive language such as Banjar is tantamount to insulting his intelligence. Hence this article is written in English, hoping against hope that the supposedly intelligent ‘brother seawolf’ will not, in one way or the other, suffer from inferiority complex.
Dear brother (son),
If my writing is too hard for you to discern, don’t bang your head against the wall, and don’t blame yourself either. Please take it in your stride and pretend that it is not your fault but simply due to my inability to stoop to your level. You have to forgive me because I am not as educated as you.
To begin with, let me introduce myself, and depending on your interpretations, there bound to be doses of “Masuk bakul angkat sendiri”. Or as per your comment “angkat bakul naik lift”.
I joined the RMN in 1965, during the peak period of the Indonesian Confrontation with the aim that someday I would come face to face with the enemy. Not knowing what were the job functions of Writer ‘G’, I accepted induction into the branch. After three months performing clerical work, I was bored to death, the boredom of which led me to the table of the Commanding Officer KD Malaya, Captain JFR Weir (RN) requesting for a branch change.
When I joined the navy, I only produced my LCE certificate. Even though I was the best recruit and created a history of sorts by recording the highest mark achievable in part two (Writer) training, the Commanding Officer was still reluctant to grant my request. His hesitation prompted me to forward my Senior Cambridge Certificate. Upon scrutinizing the detail, he was surprised to see the grades that were far superior than many RMN officers of that era. There and then he instructed his secretary Sub Lt Abdul Aziz Wahab (Retired 1st Admiral) to render all necessary assistance so as to enable me to be commissioned as an officer.
Ironically, I did not return the application form and kept it until the day I left the navy. Menyusur Denai Ingatan V.
On the third week of my Radio Mechanic course, and having scored perfect results for two consecutive weekly examinations, I was persuaded by the Training Commander – Cdr CH Stewart (RAN) – to attend a five-year artificer/apprentice course at the Royal Navy Technical College, HM Dockyard, Sembawang. Menyusur Denai Ingatan VIII.
As with the earlier offer of putting on stripes on my shoulder which I spurned, the offer of a five-year course was given the same negative response. Menyusur Denai Ingatan IX.
I completed the thirty-three-week Radio Mechanic course with flying colours, and thereupon began the fulfillment of my dreams – as a sea-going member of the RMN.
The happiest moments of my 13 years in the navy were the days spent as junior rating onboard KD Sri Kedah, and then KD Sri Trengganu. During action stations, my designated place of duty was on the bridge (Flag Deck) manning the HBSLR (Heavy Barrel Self Loading Rifle) and when HBSLR were phased out in 1969, I was entrusted to operate the newly introduced weapon of the RMN – GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun).
I was enjoying life to the fullest albeit with ripples along the way. While many of my peers from the same intake, or earlier, were still struggling to put on a peaked cap, I was already a CPORM.
In 1971, I was offered a 2-year course at HMS Collingwood (UK), and in 1972 a 6-month course at HMAS Cerberus (Australia). Both were rejected outright because RMN wanted to tie me down for many more years, and on my part I wasn’t willing to extend my stay beyond the compulsory 13 years. Menyusur Denai Ingatan LX.
On 29 September 1977 – after 12 years 4 months and 4 days of donning the starched blue and white attire of the RMN – I called it a day and walked out for the last time from the Main Gate KD Malaya Woodlands vowing to return, if and when, this beloved country of ours were again threatened.
A few weeks later, I was employed in a managerial position by a British Company.
Now, approaching 66, fully retired and blessed with good health, I have ample time to ponder – to reflect and share my two cents worth of memories of life in the RMN. Undoubtedly, the occasional incursion into the domain of the powers-that-be had, more often then not, ruffled a few feathers. But believe me the intentions are noble…to remind the RMN hierarchy of the perils of unbridled descend into the unfathomable abyss of complacency.
Having introduced myself let me return to your comment.
“Dulu dalam navy apasal tak komen benda ni sama CN. Dah keluar navy baru nak war warkan benda ni.”
To be frank, I do not understand what you are trying to express. It could perhaps be due to the generation gap, or the grey stuff between our ears is of different bandwidth.
Despite all that, I’ll have to accept the fact that had I been in your position, I will be no different from you – have eyes and see not, have ears and hear not. Put differently, I can look but I can’t see, I can listen but I can’t hear.
“At least we’re better than you. Nothing, and tong kosong. What do you get?”
This I am afraid I’ll have to agree that you are “better” than us, better in the sense that:
During my time – from 1965 to 1977 – we were not smart enough by unselfishly putting our lives on the line of duty, fighting and extinguishing every single fire, thus saving our ship(s) from premature extinction and at the same time denying those greedy vultures from enriching themselves. By contrast, during your time, you have contributed so much to the coffers of those vultures (politicians) by transforming the biggest ship in the RMN – KD Sri Inderapura – into artificial reef.
In retrospect, had that fire broke out in our time, I am sure KD Sri Inderapura would still be afloat for years to come, roaming the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
In concluding this write-up, and in case you have not heard it before, I would like to share with you what Brutus once said, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” Likewise, whenever I highlighted the weaknesses of the RMN, it is not that I loved RMN less, but it’s just that I loved Malaysia more.
Last but not least, kindly accept my apology if my English is indiscernible. Please bear in mind that I was born a mere three months after the Second World War and was brought up during the Malayan Emergency, and therefore, I could not afford the luxury of tertiary education.