The following story by JOHNSON KADAM of the Kuching-based Eastern Times caught my eyes and wished to share with Aki Momogun's regulars.
KUCHING: The name Dato Patinggi Mohd Najib Tun Razak will always bring a smile to the face of Corporal (RTD) Paul Nyopis ak Noyead, the only Bidayuh Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB) holder.
The reason is simple. It was Najib who, during his tenure as Minister of Defence, proposed to the Federal Cabinet to give all PGB holders a special allowance. Prior to that, the nation did not have any incentive or scheme for these brave men.
"In February 2002, the proposal got the nod from the Cabinet and from then onwards we (PGB holders) started receiving a monthly allowance of RM300 until today. If you compare it to today's living standard it (quantum) is nothing...not even enough for our motorcycle petrol, but it's still better than nothing.
"Anyway, there's a rumour floating around that our Prime Minister is going to announce a new scheme this Friday. What I heard is that the allowance will be dramatically increased to RM1,500 a month. If that is true, it is indeed great news to all of us (PGB holders)," remarked the 67-year-old ex-Field Intelligence Officer (FIO).
Nyopis, a grandfather of 14, from Bau, said he joined the Ranger Regiment in 1966 and in 1972 he confronted communists in an ambush at 10.45 am on April 15. His heroic act earned him the PGB which was presented to him by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1973.
Asked about the treatment accorded by the government to PGB holders like himself, Nyopis told Eastern Times that the treatment extended by the Federal Government could be categorised as "fair". Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said of the State Government.
"I would say that the Federal Government has been quite concerned with people like us but as for the State Government they have totally forgotten about our services.
"It is like �kacang lupakan kulit'. We are not expecting the government to give us the sun and the moon but at least give us some kind of recognition for our contribution, as PGB holders.�
"What hurts me most is when former terrorists like Bong Kee Chok are given very nice treatment but not us," he lamented.
Asked to comment about the government's decision to ask PGB holders from Sarawak to foot their own bills when attending the Warrior's Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, Nyopis said: "It is a sad thing.
"Initially, we were informed that our trip will be paid for but suddenly yesterday (Tuesday) they said if we want to go to Kuala Lumpur we have to pay for our own airfares and accommodation, or else we can attend a similar ceremony to be held at the Warrior's Monument at the Sarawak Museum," he said.
There are 14 surviving PGB recipients in Sarawak, 12 of whom are ex-soldiers, and the other two are ex-police officer, ASP (Rtd) Wilfred Gomez Malong, and Sub-Inspector, Mohd Salim, who is still in service.
Gomez's case is the worst among the lot because while invitation letters have been extended to the rest in most ceremonial occasions, such as to attend the Warrior's Day celebration in KL tomorrow, he had never received such invitations.