MALACCA: The state government has deferred indefinitely an investiture ceremony for 11 commando trainees and two of their coaches following uncertainty over what happened during their disappearance off Pulau Upeh waters here.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron confirmed the state government was alerted by the Defence Ministry on the ongoing probe on all 13 individuals.
It had been reported that their superior officers did not believe their stories and even as an investigation has started, a representative of the group lodged a police report alleging that they were tortured to recant their account.
The 13 were stranded in the Straits of Malacca for 29 hours after their vessel was caught in a storm in December. They managed to make their way ashore at Pengkalan Perigi at 1.19am on Sunday.
A Defence Ministry official confirmed that a probe was being carried out on the 29 hours from last Dec 7 that the 13 went missing off Pulau Upeh waters.
Idris said that at this point, the state government would wait for the outcome of the investigations before deciding whether to confer the award at all.
The ceremony was also to confer the award on the 13 people as well as Faeroz Kamil, the son of Nancy Shukri, Minister in the Prime Minister Department, who was flying as co-pilot and escaped unhurt during a crash in July, together with pilot Sharon Yee and trainee pilot Soh Hsein Shoong.
Idris explained: “The award was aimed at motivating youths as those trainee commandos are aged between 19 and 22. The same applied to the pilots as the incident involved youths where the spirit of camaraderie and their selfless acts saw no lives lost in the crash.”
He added that the state government would recognise those who deserve recognition if they have contributed to the nation. He said his intention to confer the award on the trainee commandos and their instructors was noble as he wanted to encourage more young people to join the army and serve as a reminder that all their sacrifices of protecting the nation would be appreciated by civilians like him.
Idris clarified that the award to be conferred on the 13 commando trainees and coaches was Bintang Gagah Pewira (BGP) or its equivalent and not the medal of valour that was reported in the media.