Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ulu Pandan Heritage Trail (6) – The famous Kota Tinggi-2SIR Incident: Part 1 (by Peter Chan)

It was at our 3SIR Basic Military Training “Rifle Handover” ceremony in 1972 when we first heard about the Kota Tinggi incident. As usual, most fresh “civilian-turned military” conscripts were wondering what so big deal about this ceremony and all about the “AR15”.

The guest-of-honour was Ltc. Dalgit Singh, CO of this Bedok Camp 1 unit. Of course the Hokkien Pengs joked about “Bai-singhs” and making remarks such as "BIG, STRONG & FRIENDLY", probably adopted from a recent Chartered Bank TV advertisement. There were lots of giggles on the parade square. Even the presence of WO1 “Tiger Ong” made no difference. Later that same evening OC Delta Company, a Lta Lau had all of us at the Company Line for “OC Talk” and after that a punitive lesson called “Change Parade”.

1. Dalgit Singh was a young lieutenant with 2SIR credited for single-handedly killing 6 or 7 Indonesians at Kota Tingi in 1965. Most military pilots would score a "kill" by painting a symbol on the aircraft; however this man was very different. He was always quiet and very stern-looking. From that day, “everybody took cover”.

2. We were told in no uncertain terms that if we lost our rifles; be it a part or a whole, sure “kenna big trouble”. Possible punishments often meant DB (detention barracks). It seemed at that time the SAF was bent on instilling a sense of responsibility; especially over weapons. Recently I came to know of a missing rifle by an infantry man in the Mandai Forest area. There was public coverage and many SAF personnel were deployed to find the rifle. I am not sure what has happened to this chap. In my opinion this episode has taught me something deeper than just the rifle. It taught me the significance of personal responsibility over what we do, and being responsible for its outcome - positive or otherwise.

Cadet C S Lam meticulously cleaning his precious AR-15


Photo of a stripped AR-15 displayed at the Army Museum by Acroamatic

To others, you might wonder; “What so big deal?”

The story goes back to mid-1965 when the Indonesian regular army units parachuted into the Kota Tinggi region of Johore, Malaysia. After this incident, there were two other incursions into Johore; a parachute-landing at Labis and a beach-landing at Pontian.

In the next episode, an account of the Kota Tinggi incident and the people involved from 2SIR.
It is interesting to know that when Singapore was a part of Malaysia, 1 and 2 SIR were renamed as 1 and 2 Malaysian Infantry Regiment (MIR). The 4th Malaysian Brigade HQ with overall responsibility of the two SIRS was based at Fort Canning.

16 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

In my time, if you lost rifle it's a Mindef affair automatically. Anyway, losing any part of weapon is court martial offence.

During my section leaders course, one chap lost his bayonet and the whole company was deployed to search the Marsiling area. Those days, it was mostly rural kampongs where we did a lot of Recce Patrols and Fighting Patrols.

peter said...

If the AR15 was still a standard infantry weapon today, then no problem. Beach Road opposite Golden Mile sell spare-parts, including the muzzle which was often easily lost in my time. Unfortunately no use because the SAF standard weapon is SARXX.

peter said...

aiyoh forgot this part. The Change Parade included runing up and down the 4-storey block - # 3 to #4. sometimes fullpack, some times in PT Kit - and followed by duck walk (hands holding the helmet above your head) around the parade square. No wonder after that chin-up test everybody passed

Victor said...

In my time, Cadet LCS would have been court-marshalled for bringing a camera into the camp and having a photo taken of a secret weapon.

peter said...

Victor,
I dont think so. But many did not do so because owning a camera was expensive. This phobia and policy about camera only started after 9/11.

If we did not do so (me and Chun See) how in the world can we adequately describe in pictorial form the fun we had during NS?

Lam Chun See said...

I don't think there were very strict restrictions about cameras. We even took some with our commanders as well as some at the demolition range capturing our explosions. The most spectacular was the Fougasse, an incendiary bomb.

Times have really changed. I did a search on AR-15 and found several video clips of this weapon (newer version of course) on YouTube. There's even one with an 11-year old girl demonstrating how to strip the rifle.

Victor said...

LCS/Peter - Maybe so. But then Peter, you seem quite paranoid about mentioning the weapon SAR21. Mindef is a lot more open than you think now. (Please see this link (under heading "The SAR21 Team").

peter said...

At OCS, I still remember our OC's face when hee saw us taking photos in the camp. His face brightened up when we told him that we like him to to pose for us. After we developed and sent him a copy, his face even beamed brighter.

Why you ask?

Well he was a SAF regular and he signed on because life was easier inside the SAF than outside. He had never owned a camera and to have someone take his photo (in colour) was wonderful feeling. Every cent he earned went towards supporting his family. That officer was LTA Wong Ah Ngau.

peter said...

Victor I was not paranoid lah. I just could not figure out whether it was SAR 21 or SAR 22, so better not make a jack-ass of myself.....

Victor said...

Peter, I apologise sincerely for having wronged you.

edidas said...

I remember one time at night when my platoon was digging shellscrape (hope i spell correctly) during my BMT field camp, we were already finishing filling up the "hole" to cover the traces. Then as when were counting strength, one joker reported he lost his M16 magazine and most probably happened during the digging period. and the whole platoon have to re-dig their shellscrape again just to find his bloody magazine. No prizes for guessing who we cursed that night.

In the end, someone found the mag near a tonner at the road side to end out misery and that joker was duly punished... Moral of story here? Dont keep your magazine in your rifle when you go chiong sua.

During my last reservist, it was highlighted (emphasized) many times by my CO that losing any weapon in the forest is a no-no as the consequences is greater when MAS Selamat may be around the camp and SAF will become invloved with Home Affairs in parliament.

SAR 21 is easier to get Marksmenship due to the 1.5 time scope but M16 is still lighter and easier to maintain. Never touched AR-15 before but it looks the same as M16, even when stripped.

chunkit said...

AR15's the same as M16 except that it does not have forward assist.

I prefer AR15/M16 over the SAR21 but what I like about the SAR21 is that you won't lose the bolt carrier pin while cleaning rifle outfield.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of our history.

Lam Chun See said...

During our recruit days, when we had our field camp, they taught us how to strap the AR15 to our wrist while we slept. True enough, the pesky corporals came in middle of the night to try and steal our rifles. If they had succeeded; sure kena more misery.

Lam Chun See said...

For the older guys who missed the feeling of handling the AR15/M16, you can visit the Army Museum. They have a station where you can fire the rifle (electronically of course).

For me it was a washout. Have to remove my spectacles to see the rear sight aperture and foresight tip. But then cannot see targets. Put on spectacles, and it is the other way around.

peter said...

For the real thing, can I suggest on your next golfing trip to Phuket, opt for the trip to the shooting range. They use the AR15 for target shooting. After many years, i tried it once and my ear went "deaf".