2016 year starter: Malaysia’s last line of defence

  • Nation
  • Friday, 01 Jan 2016

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An assault team raiding a building occupied by ‘terrorists’ during a training exercise in Rawang, Selangor.

“We are a highly effective counter terrorist team with operatives who are sharp and efficient and with skills of international standard,” says SAC Hazani of his team.

The unit’s main task, he says, is to act against any terror threats, be they foreign or domestic, that involves Malaysian interests. It is also responsible for conducting covert operations, fighting insurgencies in urban areas, and forming strike teams to neutralise threats, as well as providing close escort services for VIPs and assisting other branches of the police to fight crime.

“The UTK is also facing a different set of challenges now, and that is unconventional warfare. That’s why my men are now being trained in additional areas of expertise, such as close quarter battle (ie, hand-to-hand combat), and fighting in built-up areas, so that they are better prepared for new challenges,” he says.

With growing threats to national security due to drugs and arms smuggling and human trafficking, there is a need to double this elite squad’s manpower to 700 men, says SAC Hazani, adding that despite the emergence of other specialised police units, the UTK is still relevant and remains a force to be reckoned with.

“We are the secret weapon of the police force. If other divisions cannot handle a situation or case, then the UTK will take over. When all other resources have been exhausted, we are the go-to unit to swoop in and settle any serious threat scenarios,” he stresses.

Noor Hasimah’s interest in the UTK came after hearing stories of the tough and challenging training that one has to go through to earn the right to be a member.

According to SAC Hazani, his team is so highly skilled now in close quarter battle that it takes only a small number of operatives – sometimes just two – to storm a house suspected of being used for criminal activity and “get the job done”. 

“In fact, there have been cases when two men raided a house and took down five criminals,” he says, proud of his personnel’s skills, which are constantly honed through exercises.

Brush with death

SAC Hazani, 51, joined the UTK in 1989. His promotion to commander early last year is actually his third “come back” to the unit. Prior to his most recent return, he was in the pioneer group serving the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) and was put in charge of operations there. 

(His other two stints outside the UTK was as a CID officer in Sabah and officer at the General Operations Force Northern Brigade in Pahang.) A man who has seen and experienced many incidents, SAC Hazani is rather reluctant to talk about what he has been through at first, but after much persuasion, he tells us about one operation that almost cost him his life.
It was in 1993 and the UTK had been called in to hunt down the notorious criminal P. Kalimuthu, better known as “Bentong Kali”.

“We had been on standby for three weeks, storming houses in different locations but could not find him.

“On June 29, we received an intelligence report stating that he had been seen entering a house in Medan Damansara (KL) at 5am. Bentong Kali had just committed a murder in Jalan Klang Lama before he went to the house,” SAC Hazani recalls.

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