I was a soldier once. Despite a short stint it brings a great length to the question of how big a sacrifice is when the nation asks for your service. In this, I fail.
When you join the army, it is about precision, honour and respect. In the army, going up the rank doesn’t only mean only compulsory passes in the competency assessments. It is all about fitness, wits and intelligence which will guarantee your survival in the battlefield. In other word, it is all about sweat and blood.
From there, you will earn your respect through the medals on your chest, amongst which are the Seri Perkasa and Pingat Gagah Berani. These are awards of extraordinary bravery proven in the battlefield and awarded only by the king. Only a few kinsmen with these are alive now.
And sadly, even when they are around as our late hero Kanang ak Langkau once lamented that medals don’t warrants you a front seat next to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when the country celebrates its Independence Day.These are a few of the sad stories our fighters who strived to keep our country peaceful and stable when a few of us would jump into the bandwagon condemning an army pensioner for filing a report over the award given to our diving queens for their excellent performance in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
And little do we realise that many of these soldiers had served their nation without reaching the compulsory 21 years of service. They are paid only a mere gratuity, but not the monthly pension they deserve. The ranks and files are needed to serve their nation for 21 years whereas officers can serve till the age of 60 like those in the civil service.
The reason is that active duties need tip-top physical fitness. However, a police sergeant could still run up a bad guy at the age of 50 and even US SEALS in their 50s are still hunting baddies in the mountains of Afghanistan.
They have put the nation before themselves. What they are asking for is life support for them and their families from the country they had sworn to protect and serve without question.
As I said, I had failed being a soldier. To get the pip pinned on your shoulders, it is about endurance and fitness and honoured by the king. As Malaysians, we all failed too. We didn’t recognise our soldiers who waded through the darkness of the night to keep the enemies at bay. Some of them may be away months and years from their families.
Give them respect and honours they deserve. They are asking for their right. They have answered the nation’s call. Will their calls be answered too?