A fellow comrade shot dead right before my eyes - Military veteran

During the battle with communist in the Sarawak forest.

15 Feb 2022 01:55pm

SHAH ALAM - “I remember it as clear as the day,” said Sergeant Zanol Aabidin Ramli as he recalled the moment his fellow comrade died in the hands of a communist terrorist during a special operation in Sarawak.

The 75-year old who had served as a member of the Police Jungle Squad from 1971 to 1976 said his team was involved in battles with the communists after they were being ambushed.

“At that time, we encountered the communist members and war started between us and that was when they had shot dead our fellow comrade.

“The incident has greatly affected me because I saw my friend killed in front of my eyes," he said when met at the office of the Malaysian Ex-Security Forces Association at the Ampang branch in Kuala Lumpur, recently.

Recalling the fateful day, Zanol Aabidin said his team was tasked to track down the communists in the Sarawak jungle and put a stop to the terrorist group movement.

He said at that time they reached a certain area and found the enemies before they started firing shots at each other.

“I had to take shelter behind a tree and we were met by a hail of gunfire.

“I put my trust in Allah to protect us in that situation, apart from looking for opportunities to return fire.

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“We were determined to fight back as we saw them shooting our friend to death,” he said.

At that time, he said the team had no fear as their aim was to put an end to the communists who were the country’s enemy.

Zanol Aabidin said he and his team were in the jungle for a year, moving from a village to another to ensure the safety of the villagers there.

Ops Bamboo

Zanol Aabidin said his team was also involved in Ops Bamboo.

“Thankfully nobody among us were killed during the operation,” he said.

Ops Bamboo was one of the most important and ‘longest running’ security operations launched by the security forces in dealing with communist terrorists between 1959 and 1989.

He explained that being a police officer during that time was extremely challenging for him as he had just started serving the police force.

“However, I put my heart and soul into protecting the villagers from the communists' threat,” he said

He added that his interest in uniform bodies was what made him join the force in 1969.

He said upon completing the basic course at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur, he was assigned to the 10th Battalion, Southeast Brigade.

He said he was then transferred to the general duties division at the Jerantut District Police Headquarters in Pahang, after five years of service, before being transferred to the division in Tapah, Perak magistrate's court in 1991.

Zanol Aabidin said he was an active member of the Malaysian Ex-Security Forces Association after his retirement in 2002 and was appointed as the head of the association at the Ampang branch in 2014.

According to him, the association established in 1986, was aimed at protecting the welfare of its members.

For example, he said, in the event of the death of any of its members, donations will be given to the family members of the deceased.

He said he was of the view that the challenges police had to face to combat crimes nowadays were different compared to the old times.

"In the past, policemen fought in the jungle, but now they are 'fighting' with criminal syndicates in the city.

“The police should always be on the ready for any possibilities of a threat,” he said.

Boosting integrity to prevent corruption

Each officer regardless of department or rank must always have discipline, integrity and be united in achieving the objective set by the force, Zanol Aabidin said.

He said integrity is a fundamental value that all policemen must possess to prevent misconduct or corruption.

Zanol Aabidin who was awarded the Pingat Jasa Pahlawan Negara for his contributions said he hoped that the current generation will be able to appreciate the struggles of the security forces.

He also expressed his disappointment over the attitude of those who always look down on the security forces by making hurtful statements.

“Appreciate the independence that we have achieved through the battle of the people in the past.

“Do not make statements which are intended to hurt our feelings as we had put our lives on the line to ensure the safety of the people and the country.

“Lets just live harmoniously,” he said.