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Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Bent The Rules...


L to R: Lt Fong, Nor Ibrahim, Arwah F/Sgt Hamzah de Souza with Banding Bridge in the background

"East-West Highway...The East-West Highway was built in the 1967 as a defence-related highway. In the early stages, there was military presence in every kilometre. The road was built to cut off the Communist Party of Malaya from the safe havens in Thailand. During construction, the highway was sabotaged by the Communist terrorists during the Communist insurgency from 1967 to 1980. Many of workers were killed and the buildozers was seriously damaged. The East-West Highway was put under strict security control by Malaysian army when the highway was opened. Motorists were allowed to use the highway at daytime only due to security reasons. The military control of the highway was lifted after the insurgency war was ended in 1989.

The Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) monument was erected in Pulau Banding near the Lake Temenggor Bridge on 1982 to commemorates those who died during construction of the East-West Highway and lake bridge."...Wikipedia

I can proudly say that I was 'involved' directly in its construction. But, sadly, to date I'm yet to have the pleasure to drive along the most picturesque and the first highway of Malaysia. And...constructed by JKR/PWD...what an achievement considering working under hostile environment those days. My involvement was through providing air support to the ground troops who were located around the area. They were stationed there to prevent the communist terrorists (CTs) from causing damage to the heavy equipment and killing the workers.

Look at the Banding Bridge spanning across the man-made lake...what an awesome sight! Do you know what Banding was to me before the construction of the bridge? It was  just a 'permanent' LP occupied by the PPH (Police Field Force) near a small and shallow river then; the width was about 50 metre and you could wade across the river. It was now at the bottom of the lake. Of course I knew what I'm talking about. One of nuri's taskings those days was to collect parachutes at Banding and other permanent LPs.

You see, Caribou transport aircraft - now decommissioned - used to airdrop supplies to the permanent LPs like Banding, Fort Kemar, Fort Chabai, Fort Telanok. The pick-up point for the Caribou was Taiping Airfield and the Air Despatch Unit of the Malaysian Service Corp was responsible to prepare the supplies to be airdropped. Later, Nuri was tasked to collect those parachutes. A real pity I didn't take any photograph.  I never envisioned to jot down my experiences.

As I said much ealier, before the formation of 'Composite' squadrons, No 10 Sqn of RMAF Kuantan, covered the whole of Peninsular Malaysia. This 'Iron Bird' was the life-line of those in the operation areas, including the East-West Highway (EWH). Well, I can safely say the EWH was more or less my 'playground'. Navigation through recognition of permanent features...he...he...he...

Anyway, I nearly crashed when operating in the area. It was some time in June 1977 when I was tasked for troops pulled out from an LP somewhere near the highway - still under construction then. The troops were to be off-loaded at Batu Melintang camp. The LP was atop of a hill, clear of all obstacles. On the last sortie,  when I pulled the collective to a hover, I knew the Nuri was 'heavy'. One of my options was to offload a few of the soldiers and came back for them later on. However, the problem was that their security might be jeorpardized...the CTs might take advantage of the situation knowing the small number of the troops there. Morever, weather might not permit me to pick them out. After considering these factors, I decided to take off with the load.

Well...I told my co-pilot to give full power, ie, both SSL (Speed Selector Lever) fully forward, and while the Nuri was on the ground, I jerked the 'collective' lever up to a maximum allowable 'Torque' and dived to gain speed. Oh boy...that sinking feeling...it was a real scary experience! Syukur Alhamdulillah...we landed safely at Batu Melintang camp. Mission successfully accomplished and flew back to Kuantan.

Readers...for your information, Nuri's 'Torque' (Power) limitations are as follows:
  • Transient Max double engine - 120; single engine 150, time - 5 sec.
  • Max power double engine - 103; single 123, time - 30 min.
  • Normal power double engine - 86; single 103, time - none.
Nuri pilots...It doesn't matter what you may think of me. My sole objective in writing my experiences is for you to learn something from it. Who knows, maybe it may save your live and others, InsyaAllah. I survived to tell you my tales. I hope you, too, will survive to tell yours when the time comes.


Photograph of the monument contributed by Faizul Abdullah, an ex-Caribou AQM

[PENGORBANAN DALAM KENANGAN
JALAN RAYA TIMUR BARAT
(1970 - 1982)

Jalan Raya Timur Barat (Gerik - Jeli) telah dibuka kepada lalulintas pada 1hb Julai 1982. Banyak nyawa telah terkorban semasa kerja pembinaan dilaksanakan mulai tahun 1970. Ada yang terkorban semasa kemalangan di dalam kerja pembinaan dan ada yang diserang oleh pengganas komunis.

Di lokasi ini, 63 buah mesin jentolak tanah telah diletupkan oleh pengganas komunis pada 23hb Mei 1974. Di lokasi ini juga tiga nyawa pekerja JKR telah terkorban dan beberapa lagi cedera dalam serangan pengganas pada 27hb Ogos 1974. Beberapa serangan lain telah juga berlaku di sepanjang Jalan Raya Timur Barat yang melibatkan nyawa dan kecederaan pekerja JKR dan anggota pasukan keselamatan. Kita memperingati semua yang telah berkorban nyawa bagi menjayakan pembinaan Jalan Raya Timur Barat ini.

Sila sedekahkan AL-FATIHAH pada orang-orang yang terkorban di sini.]

One of these days, I hope to drive along this highway with its picturesque views, InsyaAllah.


15 comments:

Faizul said...

Maj,

I have also been around Banding in the seventies during the border ops but never had the chance to drive on the EWH until the 8th Nov 2009.
I crossed from Kota Baru to Kulim using the EWH for the first time.

It was definitely a very beautiful and quite peaceful drive. The Tugu is there on the road side as you mentioned but sadly not maintained.

I have a picture of the plaque but do not know how to upload it.

Anonymous said...

Wah,,,tuan you are one of those weight lifters ah! Actually the Nuri's operating weight has been much reduced for RMAF's operation and that is why most of the weight lifters get away. I used to operated S61N on AUW of 20500lbs against 19400 for airfield ops. 18600 lbs for confined area is actually under the Full Group A ops at 30C for civil operators.

Capt Wong

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Dear Faizul,

Your name sure sounds familiar. Were you in #8 Sqn when I was OC #5Sqn? Were you the one who 'frightened' those wives on board the Caribou by giving body signals that the aircraft was having 'difficulties' while flying in heavy rain? You know, they were really worried. He...he...he! As for the plaque, what you can do is to scan it and then e-mail it to me. I'll add it to this posting. Thank you.

Dear Capt Wong,

I was an 'old but not bold' pilot! And fly by the book (SOP) type. He...he...he. When I was in Labuan, I was directed by the Panglima to carry a 'trial' flight at maximum AUW of 20500 lb from Labuan airfield. From airfield to airfield it was not a problem unless the Nuri experienced engine failure. Frankly, I didn't know the rationale for this flight.

Faizul said...

Mej,

We were there at the same time. Hahahaha... No I did not frighten any of the wifes. Must be one of the less experienced ones.

I know all the officers and men in your Squadron Photo on the "Trolley X" blogpost.

I will email you the photos. nibsmy@yahoo.com

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Dear Faizul,

My e-mail address is 'nibsny@yahoo.com NOT nibsmy@yahoo.com. Thank you.

Kapten said...

Saya setiap kali balik ke maktab memang lalu lebuh raya ni. Permandangan kat sini memang cukup indah. Yang paling saya suka bila kita menuruni jalan bukit di mana Kem Sri Banding berada di sebelah kiri kita. Dari situ kita boleh nampak kawasan kem dan ada satu LP di situ. Saya pernah nampak Nuri di situ.

Abah said...

Tuan,

Banyak cerita nostalgia kat situ, salah satunya selepas Pte Arshad PGB dari MTA di seranghendap. Saya telah dimasukkan kelokasi tersebut dengan berkomander Mej(B)Che Wel yang ketika berpangkat Kapt. Malangnya tidak ketemu musuh yang diidamkan. Saya masih ingat ketika itu kita sedang mengerjakan ibadah Puasa (Ramadan). Kami dikeluarkan selepas Hari Raya Puasa.

feitosa said...

Tahniah Tuan kerana menyediakan Blog ini dan terima kasih kerana sudi meriwayatkan semula kisah & pengalaman suka & duka Tuan untuk kami semua, sedih ada, sayu pun ada apalagi kalau pernah juga terlibat didalam operasi mengunakan Nuri.

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Saudara feitosa,

Terima kasih kerana membaca blog ini. Dah senja ni dan masa pun ada...apa lagi nak buat melainkan mengimbau semula kisah lama.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum tuan... saya Bard dari Sungai Petani... Saya nie blh di katakan baru lagi didalam membaca blog tuan... apapn inilah blog tentang sejarah ketenteraan di malaysia, untuk pengetahuan tuan ayah saya seorang pesara polis dan merupakan bekas 69 komando... berkhidmat sepanjang tahun 1970an... setahu saya (dari rakan ayah seorang bekas anggota tentera)ayah saya pernah terlibat dalam operasi khas di Grik terutama di kawasan banding... dan dia juga pernah terlibat didalam byk operasi di sempadan thai, di kedah, perak, kelantan dan di pahang serta di sarikei. beliau ada menyimpan beberapa gambar koleksi heli nuri sedang load and unloading supplies dan juga gambar nuri sedang mengisi minyak di LP yg saya percaya di selatan thailand. serta beberapa keping gambar heli Alouette TUDM & Heli Bell UH1 thai... hemph...harap tuan dapat upload lebih byk lg gambar... terima kasih...

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Saudara Anonymous,

Terima kasih kerana membaca blog saya. Apa kata anda e-melkan gambar-gambar tersebut kepada saya untuk dikongsi bersama (nibsny@yahoo.com) dan cuba meyakinkan ayah menulis pengalamannya. Blog saya tidak terhad kepada pengalaman anggota ATM sahaja. Sesiapa saja yang sudi kongsi pengalaman, terutama di era insurgensi, sangat dialu-alukan.

Tatiana said...

I ran into your blog while researching for my assignment. Saw your picture and thought, "I know that guy!" Turns out to be your blog. (But didn't have any information I could use, sorry!)

Love,
Your Niece

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Dear Tatiana,

Thank you for 'accidentally' visiting
Ayah Ngah's blog.

fadzil aziz said...

Salam tuan,

Syabas dan tahniah kerana mewujudkan blog ini.

Selaku generasi yang membesar di Berek JKR Base Camp di Gerik, setiap catatan tuan menggamit kenangan silam.

Bagimengenang jasa mereka yg terlibat dgn pembinaan lebuh raya timur barat, saya kini berusaha kumpul semua mereka yang terlibat.

Terbaru menerusi facebook JKR Base Camp yang dibuka baru-baru ini.

Selain mengumpul kenalan lama, ia juga sebagai medium utk kami kumpul semula fakta dan gambar pembinaan lebuh raya berkenaan.

Saya juga masih tertanya2 siapa 3 individu yang maut akibat dibunuh komunis serta jenis jentera JKR yang dibakar.

Terlalu banyak kenangan pahit manis melibatkan semua pihak sama ada JKR, tentera mahupun polis boleh dicatat.

JusteruN saya mohon kerjasama mana-mana pihak yang tahu atau ada detail mengenainya, diharap dapat kongsikan bersama

Terima kasih

Fadzil Aziz
MQ 6/6 Jkr Base Camp
Gerik,Pperak

Noor Hisham Taha said...

My father relates this story to me. He was in charge of workshop JKR Base Camp Grik in the early 70s and I was only nine then. One day before that fateful day (22 May 1974), my father was inspecting the machines for the last time before calling it a day. It was about 6.30 pm and drizzling at that time. He saw one old man with one young chap around that area. (Security was later tightened after the incident) My father waved at him and he waved back. Fifteen year later, during the historic signing between Government of Malaysia and PKM in Hadyai, my father immediately recognised the man. He was the man who witnessed the signing documents on behalf of PKM.