Just how miserable can the (un)civil service [and others] be when it comes to allowing these veterans offical recognition to wear a medal given by the greatful Government of Malaysia
Ashbourne News Telegraph (UK) Published: 31/03/2010 09:53 - Updated: 31/03/2010
Proud to accept Malaysia medal but Government rules ban its use
A RETIRED Ashbourne man has received a medal from the Defence Minister of Malaysia for his work overseas in the early 1960s — and his own Government say he cannot wear it.
Abd Latiff Bin Hj Ahmed presented Ron Torr, of Weaver Close, with the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, in a ceremony at the Pavilion Gardens, in Buxton.
Mr Torr, 72, served in the region during 1960 and 1961 when Commonwealth forces were fighting Communist insurgents and the medal recognises British soldiers work, recognising their ‘distinguished chivalry, gallantry, sacrifice, or loyalty’.
Soldiers from across the world worked alongside the British and are free to wear their medals, however, veterans like Mr Torr have been told not to wear theirs as it was not handed out by a British Government and it may ‘upset The Queen’. (actually it is the civil serpent beaucracy )
Mr Torr said: “I’m taking no notice of it and we are still fighting it.” John Simcock, president of the North Malaysian and Borneo Veterans Association, said: “We fought our own Government to get that overturned and now we are fighting for the right to wear it.” The Queen has apparently given her consent for veterans to accept the medal, but the British Government has not formally given permission for people to wear it.
Many of the veterans chose to snub the protocol and wear them with pride on occasions like Remembrance Sunday.
Around 22,000 servicemen are due to receive the medals, 519 men were killed fighting against 6,700 guerrillas. Many men, like Mr Torr, also had to cope with mosquitoes, leeches and other wild animals in the jungle.
The Malaysian Government has approached the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to seek approval to present their new medal to British veterans and others who served in operations in Malaya and Malaysia between August 1957 and August 1966.
Permission was granted for the medal to be awarded to eligible recipients in 2006; however, no formal permission has been given to wear it.
Mr Torr was called up for National Service in 1959 and worked as an Army technician and went to Malaya after completing his training.
He said: “When you look back it does not seem that long ago, especially when you look at the photographs it all comes flooding back.” Mr Torr met his wife Linda only days before he joined the army and for the first five-years of their relationship they hardly saw each other and kept in touch through letters.
When Mr Torr returned to the UK, he worked as a maintenance engineer for 25 years and then went to work for Royal Mail until he retired seven-years-ago.