Saturday, August 31, 2013


Saturday morning 31 August 2013. I was on parade for the nation's 56th year Merdeka celebration. Yes, I was even early, well before the arrivals of the VVIPs.

The scene was all jubilance, joy and colours. Participants had arrived and took up their positions in vibrant and patriotic costumes. There was loud music and everything was ready to go with clockwork precision. I know because I was very much involved in Merdeka parades when I was the KS 4 Infantry Division just before my retirement.

But it was not  to be that I was actually on parade at Dataran Merdeka, I was watching the live telecast from the comfort of my home. Am I patriotic enough as I was not actually there in person? I wondered.

My thoughts came with guilt. Am I not patriotic? What is it to be patriotic? I suppose I was and am still patriotic enough to have sat  through the whole two and half hours. I had contributed enough to the nation whilst in service in one way or other.

I suppose I would be there if I had an invitation to attend the celebration. I am too old to jost for a standing space along the line of spectators belakang tali. Perhaps my pride got in the way. Would you be comfortable to see me standing for 2 and a half hours. I do not expect to be at the VIP stand, maybe a bench somewhere for retired senior officers? Patriotism is respect and acknowledgement for those who had sacrificed. No?

But I digress.

I noticed the changes in this year's parade from past parades. The music and songs are more upbeat and patriotic. Even the NegaraKu has a new arrangement. I could hardly recognise the Negaraku in its new arrangement. But I knew it must be the Negaraku as I am still familiar with the protocols and format for Tuanku's arrival.

I am awed and impressed with the display of Artillery assets. New rocket launches, medium guns and air defence systems. I am very proud and glad that we have some fairly sophisticated assets. The Police Vat 69 group and our 10 Para Bde contingent had put up very impressive displays. Families of Perwira Lahad Datu were also on parade. I was moved and touched by their presence. But I missed our field guns. Shouldn't they be on parade as well ? 1 ARTY was deployed to Lahad Datu too and had provided the fire support needed for the operations. It would be the Victory Parade for the Regiment, meeting the theme of this year's celebration - Patriotism. 

Maybe I shall be delighted in next years parade. I am and will always be a field gunner.

Allen Lai

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elite Artillery Units

Hi All,

I am extremely proud and pleased that 1 ARTY had performed very well during the recent deployment to Lahad Datu, Sabah. I am proud because 1 ARTY is the First Regiment in our Corp. 1 ARTY was raised from the elite 1st Field Bty, Federation Artillery. Even though I was commissioned into 2 ARTY and had served my early days in 2 ARTY from GPO to Regiment 2 IC over several postings, I was proud to have had commanded 1 ARTY for 6 and half years, that being the best of my service days.
Every ARTY unit should be an elite unit. When I was commissioned to E BTY 2 ARTY, the BTY was an elite BTY. We had more guns than officers back then. There were only three officers when I joined E BTY. Major John Lane was BC, the late Lt Colonel Mustapha Saad was BK and I was everything else. Section Commander/GPO/ Troop Commander/2K. Not to mention being Regiment Duty Officer almost every other day.

My first lesson as a Gunner was we are an elite unit. We are the King of the battlefield. We lend grace to what otherwise would be a bloody war. We must perform. We must excel.

We had 4 guns to the BTY and we were an elite BTY. So were all the BTYs in the Regiment. So were all the BTYs in 1 ARTY. We were all elite BTYs, similarly organized, equipped and trained to the highest standards. The BTYs were named A, B, C, D, E Btys denoting only Bty seniority from both the Regiments which had 3 gun BTYs each. All BTYs were elite and can be deployed on independent operations during the Confrontation era and Border Ops.

Officers joining the Regiments were designated NQFA (Non Qualified Federation Artillery) until we had attended and passed our YO course. We learned fast and were dedicated to our roles and responsibilities. We were a small Corp and had displayed our professionalism with pride to the envy of other corps. We are now the second largest Corp in the Malaysian Army. Are we still not an elite Corp?
Given my background experience, I am most sad that 6 ARTY which is raised and stationed permanently in Sabah did not have a significant role in the deployment to the ops in Lahad Datu. I would have thought 6 ARTY should have the honour to display our finesse. Lahad Datu is within 6 ARTY’s immediate deployment range and AO. Shouldn’t 6 ARTY be given the honour? Wouldn’t it make Artillery sense to deploy its nearest fire units? Please enlighten me. I feel really sad for the CO and all officers and Gunners from 6 ARTY.

Perhaps at Army and Corp levels we should start to learn the lessons from the now forgotten Falklands War in the 80s. Sabah/Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia is somewhat like the Argentinean mainland and Falkland Islands, separated by sea. The ground war in the Falklands, and in particular the Argentinean artillery deployment and fire support should lend us some lessons to be learnt. Least we forget Argentina lost the war.

Yes I would agree to the deployment of 1 ARTY, notwithstanding the high expenditure and logistics efforts incurred. 1 ARTY is after all with the Rapid Deployment Force. But I would say 1 ARTY should only be deployed if there were inadequate fire units on the ground. 6 ARTY should be given the privilege of the FIRST RIGHTS to the battlefield before any other regiment. I sincerely hope we can maintain this tradition that all Artillery units are elite.

Allen Lai

Selamat Hari Raya

Allen Lai

Hi all,

Selamat Hari Raya. I hope my greetings are not too late to all our Muslim Gunners. I had realised that I should also post my greetings in this blog in addition to my traditional greetings via SMSes.

This Raya, I was able to visit several open houses and also to RAFOC's Hari Raya Do in Kem Wardieburn. Unfortunately I did not meet up with as many Gunners in those occasions as I thought I would.

I wish to personally thank Brig Jen Dato Yusri, commander Air Defence Group who took extra efforts to contact me to extend an invitation to his function last Tuesday. I attended the Open Day and was extremely delighted to meet many serving and retired officers and other ranks. Thank you Dato Yusri.

It was also at this function that I was thanked for my contributions in SHELDRAKE in the past. I was also asked why I had stopped writing lately in my blog for Gunners.

Firstly I have to clarify that SHELDRAKE IS NOT my blog. SHELDRAKE is initiated by Mej Ramachandan, ig (retired). He had invited all of us to contribute in any which way we can.

I also believe that SHELDRAKE is also the blog for the Gunners Club. Thank you Rama for giving us the opportunity to share our experiences and thoughts. Once a Gunner always a Gunner. I shall try to pick up my will to contribute more in this blog.

Take care

Allen Lai

Wednesday, August 7, 2013