Hamish's Letter to Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown, a Scot and the Chancellor of the Exchequer but actually Prime Minister in waiting, has proposed a Veteran's Day each June to honour Britain's veterans. In a speech on the 13th February 2006 he said "The national Veterans' Day is designed to thank today's generation of
ex-servicemen and women for their service to our country. I propose ceremonies
in every constituency and locality of the country to mark national Veterans' Day
- where we present veterans with veterans medals at local ceremonies and we will
consult with veterans' groups in taking this forward."
Which begged the question - how about presenting PJM's on Veteran's Day? Anyway, we support Gordon Brown's proposal, of course, and its announcement did inspire this letter from Hamish (who supplied his full address details).
Rt. Hon Gordon Brown MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ
17th February 2006
The Malaysian Service Medal 'Pingat Jasa Malaysia' (PJM)
I think your idea to have a day to honour UK veterans is a good way in which the people of Great Britain can show their appreciation for the service and sacrifice of former members of HM forces. I am though very disappointed at the recent Ministerial Statement by Mr Ian Pearson accepting the award of the PJM medal but denying the recipients the right to wear the medal. The medal is to be awarded to British and Commonwealth service personnel for their service in Malaysia between 1957 and 1966 and is graciously given to us by the King and Government of Malaysia. The Queen of Australia and New Zealand has accepted the wearing of this medal without restriction.
The Ministerial Statement was made following the advice of the Committee of the Grants of Honours , Decorations and Medals. I believe they made a grave error of judgment in placing a restriction on the wearing of a medal from a fellow Commonwealth country which we fought alongside in a protracted counter insurgency campaign over many years. As a fellow Scot who served in Borneo you may be interested to know that veterans from the following Scottish regiments are amongst the 35,000 eligible recipients for the PJM medal:
4th Royal Tank regiment
1st Bn Scots Guards
1st Bn King's Own Scottish Borderers
1st Bn Queen's Own Highlanders
1st Bn Gordon Highlanders
1st Bn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
1st Bn Black Watch
Sadly most of the above regiments no longer exist. Further information as to why the Honours Directorate made an incorrect decision to restrict the wearing of the medal can be obtained from the following web site:
This site has been established by veterans to lobby for the lifting of restrictions on wearing this medal. The Honours Directorate is an unelected body of men. Any veterans I know will be ignoring their directive and will wear the medal with pride on appropriate occasions. The Government is left with egg on their face over an issue which has been handled badly from the start and has been handled in such a way as to insult the King and Government of Malaysia. Veterans from this period may be a bunch of old men and women but we will fight on with resolve and tenacity until restrictions on wearing the medal are lifted. I urge you Chancellor to use your influence as a senior member of Government to rectify this matter, otherwise this issue will be a thorn in the side of government for many years to come.
Enclosed please find a letter I have recently written to HRH The Prince of Wales which more fully explains my position on this matter.
I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.
Herewith Hamish's letter to Prince Charles a copy of which he sent to Gordon Brown:
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
15th February 2006
Your Royal Highness
The Malaysian Service Medal 'Pingat Jasa Malaysia' (PJM)
I am a veteran of the British Army having served in Borneo in 1966 and am now resident in Australia.
Following the written Ministerial Statement by the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs ( Mr Ian Pearson) on 31 January 2006 means eligible British service personnel will be able to receive the medal so graciously offered by the King and Government of Malaysia. Following the advice of the Honours Directorate committee we are told permission to wear the medal has not been given. The Australian and New Zealand Governments readily accepted the award to be given to their service personnel who are eligible for the PJM without any restrictions.
The British Government only accepted the award after much campaigning by veterans. The Queen of Australia of course places no restrictions on eligible service personnel wearing this medal. I believe the Committee on the Grant of Honours , Decorations and Medals in the UK made a grave error of judgment in their decision in not allowing veterans to wear this medal. I like many British veterans who reside in Australia will wear the Malaysian medal with pride in line with my General Service Medal at ANZAC day parades alongside Australian veterans who have no restriction on the wearing of the medal. I do in fact have dual Australian and British nationality and I know that as a citizen of Australia I can wear this award.
There are approximately 30,000 British service personnel who are eligible for this award. Veterans from some regiments which you are or were Colonel in Chief of such as The Gurkha Rifles, The Parachute Regiment, The Gordon Highlanders, and Army Air Corps are directed not to wear this medal, whilst those veterans that served in the Royal Australian Regiment and other Australian and New Zealand service personnel can wear the medal including His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia . Major General Jeffery was seconded to the British Special Air Service Regiment in Borneo in 1965. I would like your support in persuading HMG and the Honours Directorate to lift the restriction on wearing this medal. The issue of double medalling put out by some is not a valid argument since many veterans who are eligible for the PJM did not receive a GSM. Veterans I am in touch with say they will wear the medal anyway and many make the comment that as civilians they are not subject to martial law. Veterans by and large have allegiance to the monarchy but on this issue veterans are bitterly disappointed and some have been heard to say 'Roll on the Republic' The PJM is a Commonwealth and not a foreign medal and should be allowed to be worn on formal occasions in the same way members of the Royal family wear the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration medal Further information on this issue can be obtained on the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association web site at www.nmbva.co.uk or at http://www.fight4thepjm.org/. Now is not the time to treat an award by a Commonwealth country with a large Muslim population as second rate. I have dual British Australian nationality and will wear my Malaysian medal on ANZAC day as permitted by The Queen of Australia.
Enclosed is a letter that I recently wrote to the British press which expresses by sentiments on this subject together with a copy of the letter I wrote to the Governor General of Australia.
I hope I have your support and look forward to hearing from you.
National Veterans Day
Gerry posted the following message on the Discussion Forum - another gentle reminder to Mr Brown that Veterans' Day will have special implications for us.
Gerry said: Gordon Brown has announced today that he plans to set up a National Veterans Day every 27th June with a series of ceremonies across the UK. According to the press release, former service personnel will be presented with medals at local events. Methinks that this shower of incompetent buffoons are digging themselves deeper and deeper into the mire of deceit and dishonour. I have emailed Mr Brown as follows.
Dear Mr Brown
I have just learned of your announcement to create an annual event to honour ex servicemen/women. This is a gesture which is to be applauded. However, there is one dark cloud on your blue sky of good intention. The veterans of the Malaya Emergency/Borneo Confrontation have just received the biggest insult that could be delivered to a veteran. The HD Committee has advised Her Majesty to approve the award of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia but permission to wear has been withheld.
Our Australian and New Zealand comrades, who have their own HD Committees but the same Queen, have been better treated - they have been given unrestricted acceptance.
The press release announcing your plan states that former service personnel will be presented with medals at local events on National Veterans Day. What, pray, will be those medals? The decision to withhold the wearing of the PJM is a gross insult to all those who served during those conflicts. Worse, it is a denigration on the memory of those who did not return. Furthermore, it is an unforgiveable snub to the King and peoples of Malaysia, who have made the offer in good faith and at their own cost. I urge you to visit a newly created web site at www.fight4thePJM.org, where you will be able to gauge the depth of feeling on this subject, which is gaining strength and support worldwide.
For your National Veterans Day to be successful, it will require the support of the veterans and this may well be missing from the Malaya/Borneo veterans. If you truly believe in honouring the Nation's veterans, and are not just expelling the usual political rhetoric in an attempt to appear to so honour us, I suggest that you use every ounce of influence to get the HD Committee's decision corrected.
Gerald Law (ex RAF Borneo veteran)
It's a privilege to read letters and messages such as those posted on this web site. We have support from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada - as well as the embattled Brits!
If you are inspired, why not write. Use your own words, pick some from these postings, but always write over your own name - never, please, over the name of those who have allowed their name and their correspondence to be published on these pages. Thank you.
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