‘All army veterans should have chance to become community leaders’

Ling (centre) announcing his intention to step down as association president.

SIBU: Sarawak Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Association outgoing president Thomas Ling has slammed people’s representatives here for ignoring his recommendation to appoint a Chinese army veteran as a community leader.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Ling pointed out that in the last tree years, he had written several times to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and former Lanang MP, who is now Dudong assemblyman, Datuk Tiong Thai King, about the matter but never received any positive response from them.

“At one time, Wong even pushed the matter to Tiong, saying that my recommendation for an army veteran was for his (Tiong’s) area,” said Ling.

According to Ling, there was no issue when it came to army veterans from the bumiputera community as they had been appointed either as penghulu, kapitan or longhouse chieftain in their respective areas.

In places such as Bau, Lundu, Serian and Kuching, most of the community leaders were bumiputera army veterans.

In Bawang Assan, where Wong is its assemblyman, Dayak army veterans had been appointed as longhouse chief.

“None of the Chinese army veterans have been appointed for any of those positions even though they are qualified.

“They had served the country well, so why not serve the society?

“They are even well-versed in Bahasa Malaysia and English,” he added.

Ling said they were just asking for a chance to serve the people.

Their appointment, he said, would encourage more from the Chinese community to serve in the armed forces.

“We have been overlooked. By joining the force, they were willing to serve the country and after they retire from the force, they are capable of serving the society as community leaders,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ling said he was stepping down as the president of the association.

“I have been the president for two terms. According to the association’s constitution, a person can only hold the position for two terms of three years for each term,” he added.

He hoped that members would elect a new president who is honest, committed and with integrity at its annual general meeting on June 23 in Penrissen Camp, Kuching.

“I hope that the person elected will perform his duty well and can continue the struggle of the association,” he said.

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