TAMPARULI, July 31 — Each time Independence Day arrives, Antakin Andau will reminisce about his days as an army personnel defending the country against the communists 56 years ago.
The bittersweet memories of being in the Second Rangers of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) are still fresh in the mind of the 83-year-old retired staff sergeant from Kampung Bantayan here.
Antakin who served in the MAF from 1964 to 1978 said throughout his service he was posted to almost all states in the country including Sabah and Sarawak.
“Although I only joined MAF after seven years Malaysia gained independence, the country was still facing security issues especially the communist threat which was a great challenge to us as the army personnel,” he told Bernama recently.
Reminiscing his early involvement in the service, Antakin from the Dusun Lotud tribe said although he did not get the opportunity to pursue his secondary education, he was grateful to be selected to join the MAF.
“I was 27 years old when I first joined the service on Feb 21, 1964 and was sent to Kedah for six-month to undergo military training,” he said.
According to him, the Brunei Revolt ceasefire in 1962 was one of the most unforgettable moments he ever experienced in which during that period he was deployed to Pulau Sebatik, Tawau for six month to safeguard national security.
“During the incident, personnel from the Second Rangers were tasked with safeguarding Pulau Sebatik and the surrounding islands from the threat of the Brunei rebel group led by AM Azahari.
“The ceasefire has opened the eyes of many to our capabilities in dealing with the insurgency,” he said.
Recalling the historic event, Antakin said the Brunei Revolt which took place on Dec 8, 1962, began with coordinated attacks on the oil town of Seria and targeted oil installations owned by Royal Dutch Shell as well as police stations and government buildings.
“The rebellion was directed against the Sultan of Brunei, his government as well as his loyal supporters. The incident is also considered as one of the first stages of the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation,” he said.
Antakin said during that time, the northern part of the Borneo island was composed of three British territories namely Sarawak and North Borneo (renamed Sabah) and the protectorate of the Sultanate of Brunei.
He said after the six-month assignment at Pulau Sebatik, the Second Rangers force was then deployed to the Lok Kawi Camp in Kota Kinabalu from 1969 to 1972, before returning to the peninsula in 1973.
Antakin who retired in 1986 said the arrival of the national month will evoke memories of the past when he was in the service.
“It requires great sacrifice to become an army personnel,” said Antakin who is blessed with 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
For Antakin, Merdeka is not just about celebrating the country’s independence but it should also be a tribute to the sacrifices made by the security forces in defending the sovereignty of the nation and the safety of the people.
“The freedom and independence we are enjoying today were achieved through the struggles and sacrifices of our national heroes,” said the Kampung Bantayan headman.