KUALA LUMPUR: For most of his career, Senior Asst Comm Datuk Leong Chee Woh (pic) operated in the shadows in the war against communist insurgents.
The man behind the elite police unit involved in secret operations against communist terrorists will receive the Bintang Keberanian Panglima Gagah Berani from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.
“To be honest, I am shocked but honoured to receive such a prestigious recognition for my services 35 years ago.
“I never thought about being acknowledged, let alone getting such an award as most of my work was highly classified.
“The award is not only a recognition for me, but for all the men in F-Team,” said the 88-year-old in an interview yesterday.
The feats by SAC Leong’s secretive F-Team, officially known as the E3F Special Operations Force, was declassified by the Government last year.
SAC Leong, who served in the Royal Malaysia Police for more than 30 years, said he set up the F-Team in 1971 and retired in 1984. He also joined his team in their operations.
“In 13 years, we captured about 1,700 communists. We had 48 kills. It could have been more than 1,000 kills, but we did not want that. Our goal was to capture them and gain intelligence. A hundred dead bodies cannot speak.
“Our objective was always to capture, and I’m glad to say we did not lose a single man throughout our duty,” he added.
SAC Leong said the team started with 13 personnel and had no more than 50 operatives.
“We emphasised on quality operatives rather than the size of the squad,” he said.
The key factor behind F-Team’s success, he said, was that it was a closely-knit unit filled with experts in intelligence gathering and jungle warfare.
He recalled how the F-Team conducted an operation in Kulim on May 14, 1971, where they tracked a terrorist camp. With the army’s help, they managed to lure out eight terrorists before the team attacked the camp.
“We proved ourselves with the team’s first operation,” he added.
SAC Leong said it did not matter to him or the team that their sacrifices were unknown to the public prior to the Government’s decision to declassify their activities.
SAC Leong, who retired as Bukit Aman Special Branch deputy director, said the F-Team was active from 1971 to 1995. It also oversaw the official surrender of the Communist Party of Malaya.