Heart of stone — army officer’s greatest tool

KAJANG: While serving in the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Major (Rtd) Datuk Salehuddin Abd Muttalib was well known at one time for having a “hati kering” (stonehearted) because of his tough approach to extracting information from the enemy during the communist insurgency.

The 71-year-old from Kuching, Sarawak told Bernama about his time with the Military Intelligence Special Branch (MISB) in his 20s and one of the interrogation techniques: “Each time I caught them (insurgents) and they refused to give up any information, I would slash their hand and rub salt into the wound.

“Yes, it was very effective each time. They would cry out in pain like they were going mad,” he said while adding it was the only way to obtain information about the enemy’s strategy to give to the higher-ups.

From his home in Kampung Sungai Rinching, Semenyih he said he was involved in many operations to defend the sovereignty of Malaysia, like “Operasi Jala Raja”, “Operasi Iblis”, “Operasi Teliti 2”, “Operasi Marcup” and “Operasi Teliti 3”.

Salehuddin Abd Muttalib Photo credits: Facebook

In recalling those dark days when many fellow soldiers lost their lives to a cold-blooded enemy, he cautioned: “Don’t take the sacrifice of the security forces for granted… defend the safety and peace we enjoy now.”

Major Salehuddin also told about something that happened to him the night before the May 13, 1969 riot while he was with “B Skuadran 1 Peninjau” (a recce unit) and tasked with keeping the situation under control in Kuala Lumpur.

Still fresh in his memory, he said blood had been spilled and people were lying dead when he spotted a couple and their son cowering in fear near where Pertama Complex now stands.

“I went towards the Chinese family to help them feel safe. We got them back to their house in Kampung Air Panas, Setapak.

“They were very grateful and till today we still keep in touch,” said Maj Salehuddin who was awarded the Panglima Gagah Berani medal in 1972.

“Young people, love and value our country. Reject bad influences and don’t be reckless. If not us (who will defend the country), then who else?” he said while expressing his appreciation to ATM for moulding him into a responsible and highly-principled person. – Bernama