Sikh police veteran recognised for role during Malaysian communist insurgency

Charan Singh and his wife after receiving the JPN award on Sept 27, 2023. In the background is a photo of his days in the service with the PPF

By Asia Samachar | Malaysia |

Police veteran Charan Singh was one of the recipients of the Jasa Pahlawan Negara (JPN) or National Hero Service Award for his outstanding role during the communist insurgency in Malaysia.

Charan, 77, had joined the Malaysian police force PDRM on Aug 1, 1965 and retired as a corporal in 1995. He had served in the Police Field Force (PFF) from 1968 to 1987.

Formed as the paramilitary combatants of the Royal Malaysia Police, the PFF was in the forefront battling the communist insurgency in South Thailand where the communist guerillas had made a bastion in their fight against the Malaysian government.

One of his most vivid memories came very early in his career. It was the communist ambush in Kroh, Perak, on June 17, 1968, which resulted in 16 dead and 17 injured. Kroh is an area bordering Gerik, Baling in Kedah and Betong, Thailand.

Charan Singh has served in the police force for over 30 years since 1965. – Photo: Family

The victims were from Platoon 11, Kompeni C of the Batalion 1 PPH based in Ulu Kinta, Perak.

“I was managing the wireless at base camp when the incident happened,” he said. “When their bodies were brought back, I could see blood dripping from the 3-tonner [lorry]. At that moment, the police song – Polis sedia berkhidmat, kerana negeri dan rakyat – came to mind. So did the lines from the national anthem, ‘tanah tumpahnya darahku.‘”

The Communist insurgency in Malaysia, also known as the Second Malayan Emergency, was an armed conflict which occurred in Malaysia from 1968 to 1989, between the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and Malaysian federal security forces.

Under a General Border Committee agreement with neighbouring Thailand, the Malaysian Special Branch was allowed to operate in South Thailand to gather intelligence on the activities of CPM members, who operated in the jungles at the Malaysian-Thai border. The agreement was unique and the only kind in the world where a country — Thailand — allowed a friendly foreign force to operate on its sovereign land.

Charan Singh and his team were in the thick of the insurgency battle. The JPN medal was handed over by the Selangor police chief Hussein Omar Khan today (Sept 27).

In an earlier entry, his wife, Pritam Kaur, 72, related her experience raising three children almost single-handedly as the husband was always in service to the nation. He was not around to see the birth of two children as he was on duty in the jungles. With one of them, he had only received news of the birth 42 days later as they were deep in the jungle.

Charan Singh, who used to be a forest police officer, will always be respectful by the 31st of August.


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