Conduct Unbecoming

Major Zaidi bin Ahmad

SeaDemon Says

“Loose Talk Could Sink This Ship”

“The Walls Have Ears”

The above are among reminders you would normally see then in a military establishment. Whether or not these reminders are being repeated today remains to be answered. At least such reminders should be repeated in all courses attended by military personnel.

Back in the 1970s, at the height of the Second Emergency, soldiers got killed after wives talked eagerly in public about the husbands going for operations against communist terrorists. Mind you, wives and children are the only people in any military establishment that are never vetted by security agencies.

One such wife was even employed as a typist at one military establishment. For years she mailed the carbon papers of each important military correspondence to the intelligence service of a neighbouring country before she was arrested.

In the late 1980s, 10 officers and men of the Armed Forces were nabbed by military intelligence after they were found to have sold strategic defence files to the intelligence agencies of a neighbouring country. The highest amount paid for a file was USD96,000 for a document on contingency defence plans of a particular state. The rest were defence plans of an Air Force Base, a naval base, and the layout of a military hospital.

In the Armed Forces too you have channels to complain or air your grouses. Your quarters is leaking, you complain to the Facilities Officer. Your mess food sucks, you complain to the Mess Messing Member, or in the case of the other ranks (rank and file if you must), complain to the Duty Officer who is supposed to eat the food you eat with you. Your senior officer has wronged you, the Armed Forces Act, 1972 allows you to seek redress of wrong. Your indelible ink wears off your finger in less than a day, you complain to the Officer Commanding the Administration Branch. Better still, if it is on the same day of voting, you complain to the Elections Commission officers at your place of voting.

There is a reason that you are an Armed Forces member and not a civilian. It means that you are not a civilian. You come from a highly disciplined institution that lives by its codes of rules, regulations, standing orders and orders. You cannot whine like an old lady in public, more so when you are in uniform.

Former Major Zaidi bin Ahmad was a good officer, until the day he appeared in the photo above. He was my junior by two intakes. He was a good pilot. He flew the F-5E Tiger II before progressing to a F-18 Hornet driver, after which he was picked to lead No.12 Squadron (F-5E Tiger II) as its Commanding Officer. He was a quiet man, well-mannered, and according to those who know him, it was no secret that he is a staunch supporter of PAS.

There is nothing about being a military man and have a liking for whichever political party. When I was a serving officer, I told my men that they were free to vote for anyone they wished, but as a member of His Majesty’s Air Force, they should remain apolitical in their conduct.

Granted that Zaidi might have had good intention by talking about his experience with the indelible ink, he went against the Armed Forces Council’s Order No. 13 of 1960. What more, he was wearing his uniform. As a member of the Armed Forces, you are not to talk to the media unless you have prior clearance from the Public Relations Office at both the Air Force HQ and the Ministry of Defence. You might be subjected to unguided and mischievous questions and you might answer wrongly. You might give away more than you should, as the information you are privy to may cause harm to the defence of the nation if leaked whether intentionally or unintentionally.