Once secret anti-communist police team honoured

A scene from the re-enactment of ‘Ops Tapah’ at Dataran Merdeka yesterday. — Picture by Farhan Najib
A scene from the re-enactment of ‘Ops Tapah’ at Dataran Merdeka yesterday. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — It was a 10-minute glimpse into the sacrifices of one of the best-kept secrets of the battle against communists.

The elite E3F unit was a clandestine Special Branch outfit which battled the anti-establishment movement for more than two decades.

After being kept a secret for more than 40 years, an emotional recount of one of their operations codenamed “Ops Tapah” was re-enacted at Dataran Merdeka yesterday.

A total of 32 police personnel acted out a harrowing scene which portrayed the death of a fellow officer known as “Batman” in Tapah in 1978.

Members of the unit, also known as the F-Team, were in the audience and could not hold back their tears as the scene ended with Batman dying in the arms of an officer named Kenny after he was shot by a communist.

The real Kenny, now a 63-year-old veteran, was also present during the act.

The story began with five officers in a white van being led by a captured communist known as “Ah Xiu” to a location where the enemies were supposed to collect food rations.

Batman alighted from their van to talk to a communist but was later shot following a struggle.

Kenny retaliated by killing his friend’s murderer.

Coloured flares and props depicting jungles were used in the re-enactment to add a dramatic feel to the scene.

A poem reflective of the team’s motto Hanya Yang Berani (Only The Brave) was recited after the action-filled performance ended.

‘Batman’ in a struggle with a ‘communist’.
‘Batman’ in a struggle with a ‘communist’.

The real-life Special Branch officer who acted as Kenny said he found it a challenge to play the role because he wanted to do it justice.

“We contacted those who served in the F-team to get some insight into their operations. The performance team took two weeks to prepare and I wanted to show my appreciation to the real team by acting well.

“It was especially emotional to have ‘Batman’ die in my arms. Imagine losing a close friend who risked his life for us and to protect our country,” said the officer whose real name could not be disclosed.

F-team founder Datuk Leong Chee Woh said his team was put through numerous unimaginable circumstances in the fight against communists.

“I cannot believe it has been 60 years since our independence. The F-Team fought hard for our country and it was worth it,” he said.

The squad was formed in 1971 and its existence was only revealed last year.

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