The National Patriot Association (Patriot), an NGO of retired military and police personnel and civilians, is calling upon the government, professional bodies and business enterprises to bank on and give credence to the role and sacrifices being made by ‘community patriots’ as we battle on with a new enemy of the people and nation – Covid-19.
Patriotism was central to us veterans as we defended our nation against external enemies, sacrificing limbs and lives in the many battles we waged against the enemies of the state.
“The recent demise of our celebrated heroes, the late General Tan Sri Mohd Ghazali Che Mat, who was the eighth Chief of Armed Forces Malaysia and SAC Datuk Leong Chee Who reminds us of the exemplary patriotic spirit that counts in every national crisis,” retired Brigadier General Mohd Arshad Raji, who now helms Patriot, recalls.
“Both these gentlemen of valour were heroes of the nation. The late General Tan Sri Mohd Ghazali, successfully led his platoon against an ambush by the communist, leading the enemy to retreat.
“And SAC Datuk Leong, aka Scorpio, the author of the six Scorpio book series on CT operations, was the founder of the E3F Squad, better known as Team F, which was pivotal in the communist laying down their arms in Malaya and Sarawak.”
Today, the nation reels under a different kind of threat. The Covid pandemic is ravaging our nation. Given the prevailing and grave political issues, coupled with economic downturns and social crises, Patriot feels that Malaysians must and have demonstrated that they have a dominant role to play to defend this nation.
In this regard, Patriot recognises the various communities of people stepping forward to demonstrate their patriotic spirit as the survival and future of our nation and its people are in an extremely vulnerable state of affairs.
Placing public interest above self-interest and putting nation before private and political agendas will have direct consequences in battling the ongoing crisis in the country.
While our soldiers fought in the jungles, today our healthcare and security frontline workers are the new Patriots. They are placing their country and people first before self. These new patriotic ‘soldiers’ are tirelessly working long, gruelling hours while risking casualties of infection and exhaustion.
Likewise, on the peripherals of the larger community, there is a rise in the number of individuals, civil society groups and NGOs coming forward voluntarily to rescue the homeless, the hungry and the emotionally distraught.
This is true patriotism and it must be recognised, encouraged, nurtured and above all facilitated by the government, professional organisations and the business sectors.
Unlike some politicians who would rather capitalise on the calamities with their seeming philanthropy-hugging publicity, the scores of people engaged in community patriotism must be recognised. These community Patriots seek no rewards through compensation or recognition, no money or medals.
As we take note of the numerous accounts of corruption and allegations that go contrary to the safety, wellbeing and future of our nation, we wish to sternly remind politicians and leaders that political infighting, corrupt practices within the systems of governance including allegations of corruption in the national vaccination drive and various confusing statements from those in authority – all of these are counterproductive to community patriotism.
Patriot strongly condemns and rejects such counterproductive and demotivating conduct.
Community patriotism requires a nurturing government and leadership by example.
Hence Patriot demands that in this our nationwide battle against Covid and its fallout, the government takes more proactive actions to plan and include communities in their strategies.
Community patriotism has a major, indispensable role in addressing the health crisis and its symbiotically connected economic, financial and social challenges.
The pandemic has been plaguing the country for almost a year and a half and we have not yet surmounted the dreaded waves three and four that are already fast knocking on other countries. The key to win this battle is concerted efforts.
The true strength of our nation is the community and its preparedness to exercise patriotism. The government, out of a patriotic spirit, must protect, promote and facilitate community patriotism and not inhibit or even coerce it for want of political mileage.
As seasoned fighters and defenders of our nation, Patriot wishes to remind politicians and those entrusted to lead the nation in this unprecedented battle our nation is facing, that the might of a government, a military force or law enforcement agency alone cannot fight the enemy within our shores. It is the solidarity and strength of the multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural community whose patriotic spirit that must be tapped foremost.
Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriot Association (Patriot)