Vat 69 members remember confrontation with communists 40 years later

BETONG, Southern Thailand: Although 40 years have passed, memories of the communist attacks vividly remain in the minds of former members of Vat 69 of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

All the bitter memories and trauma of the fightings in the 1970s, especially at the Malaysia-Thailand border and around Betong district in southern Thailand, stay firmly entrenched in their lives and tears welled in some of their eyes as they recalled these tragedies.

Recently, 23 former personnel of Vat 69, aged 68 and above, returned to visit and recall scenes of a series of historic attacks in Betong where members of the security forces sacrificed their lives and limbs in order to maintain peace in the country.

The visit was organised by the PDRM Vat 69 Veterans Welfare Association.

The president of the Association, Datuk Abdul Aziz Bakar, 68, admitted that until now he himself was unable to forget some of the heartbreaking events when troops were ambushed by the communist terrorists.

Abdul Aziz himself had helped carry a shot security personnel before the man died, in an ambush incident by communist insurgents when monitoring security at the border area.

"We will never forgive the communists' brutality because we worked for peace while they created chaos by killing civilians and attacking the security forces," he told Bernama.

Abdul Aziz said there were now 3,500 members of the association, created three years ago. The membership is open to all former members of Vat 69 and other PDRM personnel.

"The association's aim is to look after the welfare of the members and their families," he said.

A former member of Vat 69, Mohammed Nor Bahari, 68, who now resides in Kluang, Johor, said he had to face four communist ambushes at the border area and in the vicinity of the operation area here.

He who served in the police force from 1969 until 2004, said, among his experiences was cradling his friend who was hit by a bullet in a terrorist ambush.

"I can still see clearly the scene of the ambush in a village in the vicinity of Betong here that killed Inspector Yusof Talib, and wounded constable Mohd Yassin," said Mohammed Nor who was shot on the right thigh.

He therefore reminded today's young generation not to be complacent about their responsibilities to the nation and to love the country so that such tragic incidents would not recur.

Throughout the visit, the Vat 69 veterans kept recalling memories of participating in operations at specific locations and they also visited the village of former communist terrorists, here. — Bernama