Lieutenant-Colonel Linus Lunsong Janti had set his goals high even when a student at a secondary school in Sibu, Sarawak. On completion of his Senior Cambridge in 1965 he wanted to go further but, like most youths those days, was hampered by a multitude of reasons, finance being the foremost. And like the rest he joined the work force not for the love of the profession but out of necessity. I guess being brought up in a rural setting has its advantages. One tends to love and appreciate nature better than someone from the town. But Linus is unlike others, he is an Iban and his ancestors were warriors who traced their roots to Rentap, the nemesis of James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak. His warrior instinct had the better of him.
A cushy job at the telegraph office in Sibu was not his cup of tea. He opted for the Army and joined the Royal Military College, Sungei Bes in 1967 as a short-service-commission cadet. RMC was the place for someone like Linus. He excelled in military training - physical and academic. He did well enough to earn himself a coveted place on the college roll of honour. He was adjudged the Best Cadet of his intake - Short Service Intake 12. Linus was commissioned into the Rangers, as most Ibans would. It was a perfect match for a fledgling officer who foresaw a life of excitement and adventure.
Joining the Army at a time when the remnants of the outlawed Malayan Communist Party were still active, his induction into the Rangers was most timely.. Ibans have long been associated with the Rangers and many have shown their mettle by being in the forefront of battles and skirmishes. Their bravery in combat is exemplary and has earned them praise and recognition worldwide. Linus was young, energetic and, above all, ambitious. Life for this young man was not about mucking around the Officers’ Mess and making a mess of himself. He wanted to go further. And when a offer came for volunteers to join the commandos, he readily applied. He joined the Malaysian Special Services Unit (MSSU) to prove his worth and proved he did by passing both the Rejimen Para Komando Angkatan Darat course in Bandung, Indonesia and the MSSU course at Sungei Udang, Malacca, back-to-back. He is among a handful of commandos in the country who hold such a distinction.
Colonel Linus was responsible for annihilating the remnants of an elusive terrorist group operating in the Pahang-Perak borders in 1975. Following in its heels was the routing of another terrorist group in RASCOM, Sibu in 1976. This proved to be his undoing for he was accused of withholding information regarding the enemy. He beat a hasty retreat to the Special Service Regiment at Sungei Udang Camp, Malacca only to face more disappointments. This time from his seniors who felt uneasy with his presence. The Little Iban Warrior is not about a privileged blue-blood officer from an equally privileged regiment. It is about the struggles of one man who preserved despite the many odds. It is a story of a have-been one which the majority of officers in the Malaysian Army could identify with. When his chips were down Linus drew solace from a very unlikely source. He is none other than Sultan Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj of Johore whom he fondly refers to as his mentor and brother.
The Little Iban Warrior marks Ipoh Echo’s debut in the publication business. It is a success of sorts as we at Ipoh Echo have utilized our own resources and expertise to get the book on the shelf. The Little Iban Warrior will be launched on Saturday, June 16, 2007 in Taiping in conjunction with the Ex-3 Rangers Annual Get-Together 2007. The 142-page book is in soft cover and is priced at RM20 a piece. Books are available for purchase at major bookshops and newsagents in Ipoh, Kuching, Sibu and Miri in Sarawak. For details please call Ms Colleen Wong of Ipoh Echo at 05-2552181.
By Lt Col (Rtd) FATHOL ZAMAN BUKHARI