GEORGE TOWN: A group of retired Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) helicopter pilots are appealing to the Government to extend to them the revised quantum of allowances for those who earned bravery medals.
The 20-odd officers were the nation’s pioneering Nuri and Alouette helicopter gunship pilots who served during the later phases of the communist insurgency from 1974 until the 1980s.
Their spokesperson Datuk Maj (R) Mohd Khalid Ali said he and the group’s leader, Maj (R) Nor Ibrahim Sulaiman, had written to Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah on their request.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced on July 31 a new monthly allowance scale for military personnel who were bestowed the bravery medals of Seri Pahlawan (SP) and the Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB).
Those with the SP would get RM2,000 and those with the PGB RM1,500 respectively on a monthly basis. It is learnt that the allowances were only applicable to soldiers and not to other wings such as the RMAF and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).
Mohd Khalid said RMAF pilots risked their lives, and many had died when their low-flying helicopters were shot down by the communists.
Mohd Khalid said he hoped the Government would not leave out the RMAF or RMN personnel who had earned gallantry awards during the course of defending the nation’s sovereignty.
The group were bestowed the Pingat Tentera Udara (PTU) bravery award for flying into hostile areas to transport soldiers and evacuate injured servicemen.
Mohd Khalid claimed the PTU award was equivalent to the SP and PGB awards. He also noted the pilots’ disappointment in not being invited to attend the annual National Day parades.
When contacted, Abu Bakar’s special officer Zureen Zubir confirmed receiving the group’s letter.