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Letter to the Editor
By Boniface Willy Tumek
It has been 27 days since Corporal David Edmund Rapi, 39, from Dalat and Lance Corporal Moses Logers, 25, from Kpg Sinibung, Singgai in Bau went missing during an operation at Pulau Perak in Kedah. The pain and agony that their family members are undergoing is becoming more acute.
They and the general public are now making comparison between how the Ministry of Defence and Civil Defence handled the search for these two soldiers and how the police handled the search and rescue (SAR) for the missing Irish teenager Nora Quoirin who went missing in Negeri Sembilan on August 4, 2019.
The police deployed all the resources they could muster which included about 350 personnel, working in shifts, into the SAR. Nora Quoirin’s body has since been found, thanks to the most admirable commitment shown by the police.
The question on Sarawakian lips now is why did the ATM not show the same level of commitment into the search for their own personnel who went missing while protecting the interest of the nation.
Even Singaporean Puah Geok Tin, who went missing on August 8, 2019 at Pulau Sri Buat, Pahang had been found after a multi-agency SAR.
According to a statement from the Civil Defence, the search for David and Moses was stopped just a few hours after it was launched on the night of July 19, 2019, reportedly due to bad weather conditions and resumed when the weather improved.
The family members of David and Moses managed to find their way, at their own initiative and expenses, to Pulau Perak on July 23, 2019. They found no signs of active search and rescue activities on the island.
The commanding officer of the regiment to which David and Moses belonged and the commanding officer of the team on Pulau Perak were of little help to them, unable to provide any useful information.
At a press conference by YB Baru Bian, the Minister for Works, on August 9, 2019, the relatives of the missing service men very clearly stated that, among others, they want the Defence Minister to resume a full-scale multi-agency SAR and for them to meet the commanding officer of the Fourth Battalion of the Royal Ranger Regiment.
So far, the Defence Minister and the Civil Defence have shown no sign of their willingness to accede to their requests. The Defence Ministry officials have only offered to meet with them in Kuching on August 19 to 20, 2019.
Like many Sarawakians, I am to say the least, very disturbed by these developments, most especially by the lackadaisical manner with which the Defence Ministry and the Civil Defence, the commanding officer included, dealt with the enquiries and the requests of the already distraught family members of David and Moses.
These soldiers, who are among the nation’s first line of defence were at Pulau Perak in the course of their duty, to safeguard the nation’s interest and they deserved to be accorded commensurate priority by the government via the Ministry of Defence and the Civil Defence.
Ops Pejarak, the operation which David and Moses were involved in was a static operation on Pulau Perak, an island garrisoned by the Civil Defence. There were 15 soldiers involved in Ops Pejarak, all camped in the same living quarters.
According to information given by the remaining 13 soldiers, David and Moses were present during dinner, at 7pm on the evening of the July 19, 2019. It is almost illogical to suggest that not one of the other 13 noticed the absence of the missing two until roll call which was said to take place at around 10pm.
In view of this, I strongly urge the Defence Ministry and the Civil Defence to immediately commence a full-scale multi-agency SAR for David and Moses.
I would also urge the Defence Ministry and the Civil Defence to rope in the police investigators to assist in the search so as to enable all angles be covered.
Boniface Willy Anak Tumek
This is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of DayakDaily. Letters to the Editor may be lightly edited for clarity.