THE National Patriot Association (Patriot), an NGO comprising retired military and police personnel and civilians is calling upon the government, professional bodies and business enterprises to recognise the sacrifices being made by “community patriots” as we battle Covid-19.
Patriotism was central to us veterans as we defended our nation against external enemies, sacrificing limbs and lives in the battles we waged against enemies of the state.
The recent demise of celebrated heroes reminds us of the exemplary patriotic spirit that counts in every national crisis. The late General Tan Sri Mohd Ghazali Che Mat, the eighth chief of the armed forces of Malaysia, successfully led his platoon to push back an ambush by the Communists. And the late SAC Datuk Leong Chee Who, aka Scorpio, the author of the six Scorpio books on counter terrorism operations, was the founder of the E3F Squad, better known as Team F, which was pivotal in the Communists laying down their arms in Malaya and Sarawak.
Today, the nation reels under a different kind of threat. The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging our nation. With the prevailing and grave political issues coupled with economic downturns and social crises, Patriot feels that Malaysians must demonstrate that they have a dominant role to play in defending this nation. And Malaysians are doing so: Patriot recognises that the various communities of people stepping forward to demonstrate their patriotic spirit represent the survival and future of our nation.
Placing public interest above self-interest and putting nation before private and political agendas will have direct consequences in battling the country’s ongoing crisis. While our soldiers fought in the jungles, today our healthcare and security frontliners are the new patriots. They are placing their country and people first before self. These new “soldiers” are tirelessly working long, gruelling hours while risking becoming casualties to infection and exhaustion.
Likewise, on the periphery of the larger community, there is a rise in the number of individuals, civil society groups and NGOs coming forward voluntarily to rescue the homeless, the hungry and the emotionally distraught. This is true patriotism and it must be recognised, encouraged, nurtured and, above all, facilitated by the government, professional organisations and business sectors.
Unlike some politicians who capitalise on calamities with publicity-seeking philanthropy, the scores of people engaged in community patriotism seek no rewards through compensation or recognition, no money or medals.
We also wish to remind politicians and leaders that political infighting, corrupt practices within the systems of governance – including allegations of corruption in the national vaccination drive and various confusing statements from those in authority – are counterproductive to community patriotism.
Community patriotism requires a nurturing government and leadership by example.
Hence Patriot demands that in our nationwide battle against Covid-19 and its consequences, the government takes a more proactive approach to include communities in its strategies. Community patriotism has a major, indispensable role to play in addressing this health crisis and its symbiotically connected economic, financial and social challenges. The key to winning this battle is concerted efforts.
The true strength of our nation is the community and its preparedness to exercise patriotism. The government must protect, promote and facilitate community patriotism and not inhibit or coerce it in search of political mileage.
As seasoned fighters and defenders of our nation, Patriot wishes to remind politicians and those entrusted to lead the nation that the might of a government, a military force or law enforcement agency alone cannot fight this enemy within our borders. It is the solidarity and strength of the multi-racial, multi-religious and multicultural community whose patriotic spirit that must be tapped foremost.
BRIG GEN DATUK MOHD ARSHAD RAJI (RTD)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot)