The willingness of Malaysians to take up arms and fight against communist terrorists in Malaysia, and the government’s campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people, are the two reasons why the country was able to defeat the insurgents.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said citizens who took up arms against the insurgents should be lauded since they were willing to risk their lives fighting against the enemy, exposing themselves to be killed, wounded or to lose their limbs.
“I don’t like to fight with anyone who may shoot me. But the armed forces take the risk and fight and kill, and perhaps get killed. It is not a pleasant thing, I’d rather be in an air-conditioned office pushing pen.
“Someone has to do the fighting and fortunately for Malaysia, there are Malaysians who are willing to fight against the enemies,” he said when launching the book titled “Reminiscences of Insurrection: Malaysia’s Battle Against Terrorism 1960-1990″, here, today.
Mahathir said he had shared the strategies on how to defeat the communist guerillas in Malaysia with the former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela.
“I met Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison and he asked me how was Malaysia able to defeat the communist guerillas as his teachers in Yugoslavia and Libya told him that ‘guerillas cannot lose as they will always be assisted by the people and triumph’.
“Besides taking up arms to fight, I told him that we defeated them by winning the hearts and minds of the people, ensuring that the civilians sided with the government and did not help the guerillas with food and money.”
He said the campaign convinced the people that these guerillas were not fighting for freedom, instead they were imposing their own system and ideology.
“With my explanation, I think Mandela, who was not the president yet, was quite surprised because this was not what he (Mandela) was taught,” he said.
On the coffee table book, Mahathir said “it is important as it tells the unique story of how Malaysia fought and survived, and how the country pulled the people through the period of unrelenting turmoil”.
“We need to report all these things and if we don’t, we tend to forget history. I always felt the need to record our past, which may not seem very important today but it will be in the future,” he said.
Mahathir said such books would serve a great purpose in reminding Malaysians on the country’s past and also how to manage the present and future.
Commending the author, Lt Col (Rtd) Mohd Azzam Mohd Hanif Ghows, he said the war veteran had made an honourable effort in producing the pictorial 424-page book that reminded the people how war against insurgency was fought.
“Today, our country remains stable and peaceful, and will continue to prosper and remain as an example of how people who love this country, freed it from the enemies,” he said.