I attended Hari Pahlawan together with the Sultan of Kelantan this year at Dataran Merdeka. In conjunction with the event, I also launched the 1Malaysia Privilege Card for soldiers and policemen which will allow them to enjoy discounts for products and services from about 20 participating companies. It is a small measure of recognition for the sacrifices they have made for our country, but I felt that at the very least, it would serve to lighten their daily burdens.
Indeed, there is much to be thankful for. Our Armed Forces first came into being out of necessity during British colonial times. Their first service was their fight against the communists who sought to change our way of life. Ever since then, they have been integral to protecting the interests of Malaysia as well as our fellow nations. Their first mission overseas was on a peacekeeping operation in the Republic of Congo in which a crisis was unfurling, resulting in the deaths of thousands as well as the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
To date, the country has contributed more than 20,000 soldiers as well as 1,000 police to peace missions around the globe. In the process, 28 brave Malaysians have given their lives whilst on duty, working to better improve conditions for others. Our armed forces have earned themselves a shining reputation for their work in Somalia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Western Sahara, Namibia and Lebanon. And we continue to break new ground. In 2010, the Malaysian Contingent International Security Assistance Force (MALCON ISAF) arrived in central Afghanistan on a humanitarian mission, providing healthcare education and medicine in the midst of harsh conditions.
More recently, our Armed Forced have been active in Lebanon, With Malcoy 8, a team of our finest 200 and a 540-strong Malaysian Battalion (Malbatt 4), Lebanon is our largest peacekeeping mission to date, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the world. It serves as proof of Malaysia’s commitment towards the international community.
Just as the Armed Forces keep the peace globally, our police are helping to keep the peace within. We dedicated the past several years towards improving the tools at the disposal to our men in blue, so they can go about their duties as efficiently and effectively as possible. Facilities and command centres have been revamped in order to better monitor the situation on the ground and attempt to decrease response times. As society’s needs evolve, the police force must evolve to meet new needs and assure the public of their safety – so we will continue to help boost the capacity and capabilities of the PDRM.
As we celebrate yet another year of independence, I wish to extend my thanks to all the dutiful Malaysians in the Armed Forces who not only preserve the peace, but also lend a helping hand in every day matters such as the construction of roads in rural areas through the “Jiwa Murni” project. Whether or not the country remains threatened by outside forces, their services continue to prove invaluable to us. Yours is truly a noble profession, and always know that you are in our thoughts while you serve your country.