Sarawak-born ex-soldiers who thwarted Indonesian invasion still waiting for citizenship

Despite their service to the country, the five Lun Bawang who defended Sarawak during the Confrontation have been denied a MyKad. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Despite their service to the country, the five Lun Bawang who defended Sarawak during the Confrontation have been denied a MyKad. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 ― While national celebrations are taking place in Bintulu to mark Malaysia Day today, five Sarawakians who served as border scouts during the country’s infancy have been denied citizenship.

Basar Arun, Basar Paru, Kadamus Liling, Florant Arun and Anderias Sha were born in Sarawak and had put their lives on the line in the 1950s and early 1960s fighting the Indonesian forces that were bent on preventing the formation of Malaysia.

Despite their service to the country, the five Lun Bawang who defended Sarawak during the Confrontation have been denied a MyKad, supposedly because the National Registration Department (NRD) is unsure of their country of origin, The Star Online reported today.

“We were born in the 1930s and early 1940s, and we served with the British Gurkhas during the Confron­tation. Malaysia was not even formed yet then. We served as Border Scout soldiers for Sarawak in Long Semadoh and Ba’Kelalan,” Paru, 86, was quoted saying.

Arun is now 76, Florant is 70 and Anderias Sha, 76. Kadamus has since died without being recognised as Malaysian, according to the report.

The survivors have been working with Sarawak Progressive Demo­cratic Party (SPDP) deputy president Datuk Nelson Balang Rining to gain citizenship, not just for themselves, but also for their children.

“They are already old, yet they cannot qualify for Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia or get welfare department aid, housing aid for hardcore poor or hospital benefits. Their children also cannot get MyKad.

“These fighters should be duly recognised as our country’s soldiers. Many have received certificates of appreciation from our commandos. But the NRD says it will take about five more years to determine if they can get their MyKad,” Balang was quoted saying.

The Indonesian-Malaysian Confrontation in the 1960s was an undeclared war between the two nations at the border between Kalimantan and Borneo which stemmed from Indonesia’s opposition to the formation of the Malaysian federation. 

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