Agi Idup, Agi NgelabanAHMAD TAJUDDIN MOHD SAID
16 September 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the Rejimen Renjer DiRaja (RRD) of the Malaysian Army.
The RRD has a long history; its origin started from the time of James Brooke of Sarawak; at that time, it was known as The Sarawak Rangers.
It served to enforce the laws of Sarawak, suppress the mutinous tribes and secure Sarawak’s long riverine lines of Communication.
During the first Malayan Emergency, the Sarawak Rangers participated in the campaign against the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).
Initially as Iban Trackers and subsequently serving the re-established Sarawak Rangers (Malaya Force).
Sir Gerald Templer was so impressed with their jungle tracking ability and stated, 'The Ibans are the world's best jungle trackers I have come across. They served the country admirable, and I have much respect for them'.
With the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the Sarawak Rangers and the Sabah Rangers were absorbed into the Malaysian Army.
Initially, there were only two battalions, then underwent a rapid expansion due to pressing needs during the second Malaysia Emergency.
The regiment established few more battalions during the 70s. Presently, RRD consists of ten battalions, including one mechanised battalion, one para battalion and one ceremonial battalion.
Since its establishment, the RRD was involved in many military campaigns, namely, the Konfrontasi, Malaysia's Second Emergency and Ops Daulat. RRD was also part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Lebanon.
The regiment also assisted other local authorities in responding to natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The RRD is very proud of its multiethnicity, which includes Bajau, Bidayuh, Bisayah, Chinese, Iban, Indians, Kadazan, Kayan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Lundayah, Malay, Melanau, Murut, Punjabi and several other indigenous groups. In the spirit of togetherness, members of the RRD celebrated all ethnic festivities.
Thus, it is not surprising when there are stories like a non-Muslim commanding officer issued an instruction that all Muslim rangers must perform their Friday prayer.
One battalion celebrated Chinese New Year even though only one Chinese was in their group.
Till today, a sense of comradeship and esprit de corps among the multiethnic regiment is deeply entrenched in their hearts and minds, which fits the Malaysia Day's spirit.
Their brotherhood is not only during good times but also during their military operations.
During a contact with the CPM in January 1974 at Sungai Liang, Pahang, in an attempt to save his wounded Platoon Leader, Ranger Md Isa bin Hassan shielded Captain Shamuganathan AI E. Rampoo, Ranger Isa too was later shot.
Both of them received the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) medal posthumously.
I was privileged to meet one of RRD's proudest sons, Warrant Officer One (retired) Datuk Temenggong Kanang Anak Langkau, in October 2012.
A famous figure in the 80s, who was awarded the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa medal, the highest medal from the Federal government.
This medal is given to those who performed extraordinary valour, and only a few recipients received the award while alive. We had a long chat where he shared his stories as an infantry soldier.
I was in awe listening to his experience and courage, especially his life and death moments.
Little did I know that was the last time I would meet the national warrior. He passed away on Jan 3, 2013.
Datuk Kanang was not the only RRD hero. There are several others.
To date, three members of the RRD have been recipients of the SP medal, while many others received the PGB ward.
These men have truly lived up to the regiment's motto, 'Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban' which means ‘As long as I live, I will fight’.
It is said that no one is born as a hero. A hero can be made through persistent training, upbringing in a camaraderie environment and instilling a sense of selflessness in committing to their duties.
Reading the anecdotes of these men's acts of exceptional bravery, one wonders what was on their minds then. But one thing is for sure: they did it to defend the honour of the beloved nation, indeed an act of nation before self.
The members of RRD exemplify a group of men who have broken down the ethnicity walls among them, all for their service to Malaysia.
Such an act should be a model for all Malaysians to follow. May the Rejimen Renjer DiRaja continue to serve the nation with utmost honour, courage and commitment. Happy Birthday, RRD.
Ahmad Tajuddin Mohd Said
Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security (MiDAS)
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.