KUALA LUMPUR: I was relaxing at dusk on the first day of Raya in Padang Tengku when my nephew turned on the TV and clicked on RTM1. On show was a documentary I believed was titled Pengorbanan Syawal (Syawal Sacrifice).
The documentary was on the General Operations Force operations along the Perlis-Thai border during Ramadan and Syawal. It was the normal low quality documentary produced by RTM.
What caught my attention was how poorly equipped the GOF unit featured in the show. They carried M16a1s and MP5s (good guns but decades old esp the rifle) and no one was issued with personal safety gear. No body armour and ballistic helmets.
I understand the GOF, the new name for PDRM Police Field Force, by tradition, patrolled with their boonie hats but with situation in Thailand bordering on civil war , ballistic helmets should be issued to all Malaysian personnel on the border.
The helmets could be used if contact was made. With tradition ranked higher than safety, perhaps the omission of body armour was more worrying.
If policemen on patrol in the city could be supplied with body armour (though not worn all the time) and even BSN guards used body armour, why are policemen and soldiers (I am afraid even the Army sent its soldiers to the border without body armour although they are issued ballistic helmets) patrolling our borders are not issued with these personal safety gear.
The weird thing about all of these, is that the policemen featured in the show was sent to their patrol area on board on two armoured cars. If it was so dangerous they need to be sent there with armoured cars, why is it that they do not need body armour?
Every one is talking about the rising crime rate in the country but no one seemed to realise that one of the best way to reduce the chance of crime is to cut the flow of illegal contraband into the country from guns and ammo, drugs and even illegal immigrants. Do you wonder why our southern neighbour seemed to be more peaceful? Simple, they make sure their borders are secure.
The best investment we could make for our security is to ensure that those guarding our borders are given the best and latest.
Apart from the personal safety gear, the policemen on patrol were also not equipped with Night Vision Goggles, and not even torch lights although they patrolled the jungle at night! More ominous, no one seemed to be carrying walkie-talkie, let alone a GPS tracker that in case they ran into trouble, the battalion headquarters would be able to intervene decisively.
The armoured car that sent the GOF platoon had machine guns but clearly if the patrols had ran into trouble they would be unable to intervene as they only had line of sight weapons.
As the border is long and the terrain is difficult, perhaps the police and Mindef could look into using the latest high tech devices from short range radar, sound, infra red and micro-wave detectors to help our security personnel in their duties.
Foot patrols remained necessary of course but it could be augmented by UAVs, aerostat and satellite imaging. Furthermore, mounted operations on the latest mine resistance ambush protected vehicles is a must. These vehicles must also be equipped with mortars or missile launchers so they could helped soldiers and policemen on patrol if they encounter determine enemy on the ground.
One must never underestimate what criminal gangs would do to protect their contraband. If money (bribes) doesnt work, they would always resort to guns and more guns
The RTM documentary is a real eye opener. Although it is just limited to one small area of our country border, it could be repeated all across the nation the very moment you read this post.
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