Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Conduct unbecoming army veterans — Capt. (Rtd.) Hussaini Abdul Karim

MAY 16 — I wish to refer to the report, “Group performs ‘butt exercises’ in front of Ambiga’s home” that appeared in The Star (Nation) today as written by Yuen Meikeng.

As a former army officer, I feel grossly ashamed by the antics of those who have conducted themselves unbecomingly by performing “butt exercises” in front of Bersih co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga’s house in Bukit Damansara yesterday (May 15, 2012). What they did was not just ‘crude’, it was very rude.

They held the bizarre and ‘very low-class’ protest in retaliation for her organising the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, which they claimed had given the country a bad name.

It was reported that in the incident yesterday morning, about 15 ex-servicemen were seen stretching and shaking their buttocks in front of her house.

As an officer, like all officers of the Malaysian Armed Forces from the Army, Navy and the Air Force, we were trained as officers as well as gentlemen and we were and are still expected to conduct ourselves in an exemplary manner at all times, even after we have retired or have left the service. However, the group of army veterans led by the Malay Armed Forces Veterans Association president Mohd Ali Baharom, who held the protest, I believe, is from the ‘non-officers rank’ and while not expected, it is not surprising that they behaved in such a way.

Do they think that their approach would gain them supporters, admirers or bouquets? No, I definitely don’t think so.

Many soldiers who are not officers are troubled with a stigma that we term as ‘other rank mentality’ which make them unable to apply or use rationale in many instances and one of our duties as officers during our active service was to correct them whenever they misbehaved either individually or as a group but nevertheless, while some are able to shake off that stigma after being corrected, many are still stuck with it even after the leave.

If such a thing were to happen while I was still in service and if I were the officer-in-charge, or for that matter any officer who was in charge at the time, we would have disciplined all of them and we would have put all of them through a rehabilitation programme but, since they are all now veterans, they do not have any ‘officers’ to correct them anymore.

There are many acceptable ways to conduct a protest and to do so in a civil manner and one of which is to use the courts. The other ways may be to hold a dialogue or send a protest letter.

I wish to categorically place the action of that group as not representative of the Corp of Army Veterans, officers or other ranks regardless, and that we detest their action.

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