Taiping means “Big Peace” in Chinese, a name given by the Chinese who had migrated there to work in the tin mines in Perak. Taiping also served as a military garrison for the British army. Malaysian units began to take over British army camps in Taiping around early 1960s.
2 Arty took over the British Military Hospital in Kamunting Camp in 1965. And since then there would be lapsed in “Big Peace” in the town, especially after payday at the end of the month. One of the more popular bars in town The Moonlight Bar, near the famous Taiping lake gardens, would need to change its names fairly frequently. For each time there was a fight at the bar, it would be out of bounds to soldiers. So when the garrison placed Moonlight Bar out of bounds, it would change its name to Starlight Bar so that the bar would be in bounds again. And this would go on again and again. Regimental RPs would be lost for words.
When 2 Arty moved to Taiping, the garrison already comprised Engineer Sqns, MSC units, Ordnance units, MP units and 1 Renjer. We were the new kids in the block. The Beatles and Cliff Richard were top of the pops. Moonlight Bar never had it so good when the Regiment came marching in. Small fights and skirmishes soon started with 2 Arty soldiers and other soldiers stationed in Taiping. Fights were often over the ladies of the town and space in the bars.
It was really bad when E Bty came back after 6 months in Sebatik Island. We were “loaded”. Nothing was better than being a bachelor soldier with money saved from Sabah allowances. It was “The Fight” waiting to happen. It started with ORs from both 2 Arty and 1 Renjer at the Moonlight Bar. Soon the fights escalated to officers level, when 2 Arty officers and 1 Renjer officers jumped into the frays supporting their men. Oddly enough most of the casualties were other clients drinking at the bar, mostly civilians. 2Lt Chong Kok Hing was pushed into the main drain that runs across Taiping market in one of the nightly fights.
The COs of both Regiments were quick to arrest the problem. All personnel’s were confined to camp. We were ordered to make up or to be confined to our camps indefinitely. A peace party was sent to 1 Renjer and the result was to have a grand regimental dinner for all officers and ORs in our camp. We were deliberately seated besides each other in alternative chairs.
We made friends that evening as quickly as we fought. And till to date 2 Arty and 1 Renjer personnel were best of friends. We still fought but not with each other but with personnel of other units.
Agi Idup Agi Ngalaban.