Wednesday March 6, 2013
Defending our honour and sovereignty
The Star Says
IT was a defining moment whose time had come. When our men went out in full force to reclaim the ground that foreign intruders had occupied since Feb 9, it was, as the Prime Minister rightly puts it, “in defence of the country's honour and sovereignty.”
We had been extremely patient in dealing with the hundred-plus followers of the Sulu Sultan encamped at Kampung Tanduo, outside Felda Sahabat 17, about 160km from Lahad Datu. It was our wish to negotiate a peaceful settlement that would have prevented any bloodshed.
But our patience was sorely tested, as deadline after deadline passed, until blood was spilled. We lost two of our men in a 30-minute skirmish on March 1, with 12 lives lost on the other side.
And in a separate, but related incident the following day, six of our brave men were killed in an ambush by Sulu gunmen in Kampung Simunul in Semporna.
Our action yesterday was an option that was necessary, though it must have weighed heavy on the minds of those who gave the go-ahead.
It is easy for those who are not in the thick of the happenings on the ground to give their opinions on what can or should be done. But let us not, for one moment, equate a desire for peace to the lack of courage to fight.
Today, we salute our brave men who defended our honour and our sovereignty. And we thank God that there were no further casualties on our side. But as we look forward, let us also take a moment to reflect on the events in recent weeks.
Kampung Tanduo. Kampung Seri Jaya Simunul. Kampung Senallang Lama. Lahad Datu. Semporna. Kunak. Until recently, many Malaysians may not have heard of these places, let alone locate them on a map.
But we knew that the people under siege there were our fellow Malaysians. And we knew that our brave men from the security forces the police, the armed forces and the maritime authorities were there to drive out the enemy and reclaim any lost ground from these foreign invaders.
It was a time for us to be united. It was a time for our hearts to be with our people there. It was a time for us to pray for their protection and safety. It was a time for us to grieve with the families of our fallen heroes.
But amidst this time that called for solidarity of spirit, there were those who just could not resist indulging in political posturing and finger-pointing.
It is disgusting, to say the least, that opportunists have used these tragic events to score political points.
They have shown their insensitivity and lack of respect not only to those on the battlefront but to all of us who proudly call ourselves citizens of Malaysia.
We, the people, may disagree on our political beliefs but we will certainly never stoop so low as to undermine the sovereignty of our nation through our careless words and actions.
In the days to come, there will be questions asked for which the answers may not satisfy some quarters simply because of the political divisiveness that has engulfed the nation.
It is time for all of us, especially those who will go out and vote in the coming general election, to remind those who seek power that we will not tolerate any form of political machinations, especially during tragic circumstances, that do grave injustice to the ordinary people.
Politics is just one part of what makes our nation tick. Let us rise above the pettiness and bickering and focus on the real issues. And let us demarcate clearly the long-term and perpetual interests of our nation that must always prevail over temporal and narrow political desires.