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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Former Iban tracker is sick in his longhouse

FIFTY nine years ago Jepit Anak Malong, 72, with other Iban trackers fought to defend the nation, but now the army veteran is fighting for his own life.

Jepit who served in the British Army between 1951 to 1952 is sick at his longhouse Rumah Panjang Pelasok, Skrang in Sri Aman Division and badly needs financial assistance.
He needs a wheel chair to move around as he is paralysed due to stroke.

Life is really hard for him and his blind wife, Kemban Anak Renang, 60. They have no other income except receiving RM70 monthly allowance from the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Veteran Angkatan Tentara Malaysia.

Jepit who is also suffering from other sicknesses - hepatitis and high blood pressure, alleged that he has been denied welfare assistance from the government.

He said that he had applied for welfare assistance from the Welfare Department but up to now he did not receive any form of assistance from the department.
“I have made several applications but until now there was no answer from the department,” he said.

“If others who are better off than me can get the assistance, then why can’t I? I had sacrificed to serve the nation, and the government should consider helping me, especially when I am old and unable to work,” he added.

Jepit and his wife are being taken care by their second eldest son, Thomas who is a farmer, whose income was barely enough for the family.

For his service Jepit was awarded the service medal while serving 1st BN, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (Iban Platoon) in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan in 1952.

Recalling his days in service Jepit said his first attachment was with ‘A’ Company, Ist Batalion Green Howards in Malacca for four months in 1951 before joining 1st Batallion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) with the Iban Platoon in 1952.

Jepit has claimed that he was the recipient of the King George Cross medal but a check with the Sarawak branch of the Armed Force Veteran Department revealed that he was only awarded the service medal.

Records showed there was only one Iban tracker being awarded King George Cross medal in the person of Awang anak Rawang who served with the Iban Tracker Platoon in Johor.

Awang was awarded with the medal on Nov 20, 1951 in recognition of his bravery act in guarding injured soldiers.

The medal was created in 1940 by King George VI to recognize bravery of the highest order by civilians and (later) members of the armed forces who carried out acts of bravery while direct enemy force was not involved.

A worker from the Sarawak branch of the Armed Force Veteran Department Ismail Bin Awang Johny said Jepit like the other Iban Trackers are only entitled to receive the RM70 monthly allowance.

He said only after the proposed Armed Force Veteran Act is approved and enforced only than the allowance of those Iban Trackers and other categories of the armed force veterans could be increased.

Ismail suggested that Jepit’s wife to apply for the Welfare Department assistance.
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