ONLY PRIDE: Junga Kassim showing the Bentara Angkatan Tentera (BAT) medal, the only medal received throughout his 21 years of service in the military
The Ex-Servicemen Association Sarawak Branch was shocked and could not believe that an ailing ex-soldier who was almost killed in the battlefield while serving the country was left to suffer all by himself without anyone coming to his aid.
The association’s treasurer-general Capt (Rtd) Mohd Handeri Hashim said that it was very strange and it should not happen when the government had repeatedly announced that the welfare of ex-servicemen who had sacrificed their own lives to defend the country would be well taken care of.
“The policy of the government in giving special attention to less fortunate former soldiers and not giving any help to an ailing ex-serviceman who almost got killed in an operation is something unbelievable. I can’t believe that and I will personally look into the matter,” Handeri said yesterday.
He told The Borneo Post this at the presentation of minor rural project (MRP) grants from the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation to various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) where the association was among the recipients.
Handeri was commenting on the case of Junga Kassim, 56, who could hardly walk for the past two years following the recurrence of an injury on his left leg sustained during an ambush by the communists in Gubir, Perak on April 7, 1975.
Met at his residence recently, Junga said he was supposed to be admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital today (Tuesday) and undergo a second operation tomorrow.
According to him, the injury returned after he was forced to work extra hard in the paddy fields besides gardening after his retirement in 1994 so as to support his three school-going children.
Junga said he had no other choice but to struggle to make ends meet as his monthly pension of RM320 and RM107 from the medical board was too little to survive on.
He had written to the Veterans Affairs Department (JHEV) for help, including applying for a study incentive for his eldest son when he achieved 4As in his SPM but all were rejected.
After his pleas to the department were not entertained, Junga was forced to work hard to earn a living until he could not move because of the pain in his left leg.
The Borneo Post had a one-to-one interview with Junga recently on the April 7, 1975 Perak incident where he recounted that seven soldiers were killed and 10 wounded, including him.
Thrown into a ravine by a bomb explosion, Junga ended up pinned under the bodies of two fellow soldiers, one barely alive with his intestines dangling down to the ground and the other dead and bleeding.
Junga’s one fateful day in the army will be published in the next issue of thesundaypost on Oct 17