|MAY 3 — As long as I can remember and it is important that we consider this, the only other persons outside the military who donned military uniform were our royalty (the Raja Raja) in their capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the various Corps that made up our armed forces that included the navy and air force. It is largely a ceremonial position that is a common feature in several Commonwealth armies.
However, our country is unique. We have nine Raja Raja who in order of seniority act as patron to the corresponding senior unit they are assigned. It is more or less a permanent inherited position that is, a well-respected custom that remains unchanged to this day.
Military officers whether serving or retired are very proud of our uniform, ranks and military accoutrements.
The king, who is also our commander-in-chief, by way of a formal document commissions us. We undergo rigorous training at the various officers training academies domestic and foreign to be commissioned as second lieutenants (one pip) as our initial rank.
It is a long and arduous journey as we progress through a maze of military requirements that consists of passing promotion examinations and career courses to earn a higher rank.
Few ever qualify for the rank of general of various grades but as professional soldiers we serve our country and navigate the complex eco system of military service to excel professionally.
Those who served during the height of the Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation as front line troops bore the full brunt of those conflicts. Many of our comrades were maimed and others made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thus the weight of history is borne by all who wear the military uniform, and whatever exclusivity it brings is defined by those who served and continue to serve our “tanah air.”
As military officers, we are very concerned that of late, politicians have begun dispensing “commission ranks” — colonels, generals and captains (navy) — among themselves which also extends to other celebrities such as singers, actors, sportsmen and social activists.
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