The PJM Case - The Final Word?
Here we are starting the story of our case where it may have finished - in March 2007. Two things had happened:
We had uncovered a London Gazette Notice under which The Queen gives eligible British citizens permission to wear medals She had approved to be received - and that applies to the PJM.
had achieved our goal to show the world that we really did have the right to wear the PJM.
The Cabinet office promulgated a paper repeating their flawed arguments - a paper that made a travesty of our case.
That 'full statement' was anything but 'full', other than of half-truths and omissions.
In the following pages, we set out our response to the Cabinet office on both points. As you will read, we are now very comfortable that a few civil servants have tried to deny us a right that The Queen bestowed many years ago. It has taken two long years for us who are in our 60's and 70's, and an enormous cost, but it was worth it.
You can view and/or download the documents displayed below from here:
The Letter: The Letter to the Cabinet Office
Enclosure: The London Gazette 3rd May 1968
Enclosure: The Errors and Omissions in the Cabinet Office "Full Statement"
From: Barry Fleming
Mr Denis Brennan,
Secretary to the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals
35 Great Smith Street
London , SW1P 3BQ
12th April 2007
Dear Mr Brennan,
Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM)
I refer to your letter dated 12 th March enclosing your ‘full statement’ and to mine of the 27th March rebutting your views on the 1968 London Gazette Notice.
I do not wish to prolong this continual and unedifying peeling of the onion any more than is necessary, but yet again you have promulgated statements that fall well short of the open and even-handed brief that MPs and MSPs and other interested parties have a right to expect from civil servants. In the attached information sheets, I set out the other side of the story – the one you have endeavoured to bury:
Government Departments have ‘toyed’ with British veterans over many months and have misled people and parliaments. It has taken two years of our lives (and we are all in our 60’s and 70’s), and considerable cost, to show the world that most of those eligible for the PJM have the right to wear it on formal occasions. Here are just a few reasons why we shall continue to campaign for all PJMers to wear their medal with honour:
- Acting ‘Ultra Vires’ Beyond your Remit. The Foreign Decoration Rules you rely on for your case have never provided for a recommendation such as that made for the PJM.
- Misleading MPs and Others . You have known all along that the right we are fighting for (formal permission to wear the PJM) already exists for eligible British private citizens.
- Contempt for our Medal . I was told by one civil servant that as far as he was concerned I “could put my PJM back in the Kellogg’s packet” for all its stature meant.
- Contempt for British Veterans . We have been labelled as “disaffected veterans” on a Ministry web site because we had the temerity to ask for permission to wear a medal that had been presented to us.
- Misleading the Scottish Parliament . In connection with our Petition to the Scottish Parliament, you wrote to Holyrood just a few days before promulgating your ‘full statement’ excusing your delay in answering their questions by hinting that the delay was in part necessary in case the HD Committee wanted to make a recommendation to The Queen (which would mean our case had succeeded). You are a member of that Committee and your ‘full statement’ makes it clear that you had no such intention.
The March ‘full statement’ that isn’t:
- I do not know who prepared the Commonwealth Day ‘full statement’ that you and Government Departments are promulgating, but I charge them with knowingly presenting a travesty of our case and of knowingly misleading MPs, MSPs, interested parties, and British veterans.
- This is not the first time this has happened - it is a “long-standing” practice as evidenced by the Suez Canal Zone medal and Arctic Emblem fiascos.
The 1968 London Gazette Notice that is:
- This Notice promulgates permission for eligible private citizens to wear their PJM. I charge you with abusing the Foreign Decoration Regulations when you re-interpret the contemporaneous HD Committee’s, and other interested parties’, intentions and explanations.
- You actually reverse your predecessor’s explanation! In so doing you have encouraged me to believe more strongly than ever that the Gazette Notice enables eligible PJMers to wear their medal on formal occasions.
The MoD Defence Instruction and Notice 10-002 of January 2006 that confirms both:
- Paragraph 21 sets out that it is incumbent on ex-service personnel to conform to London Gazette Notices when considering whether they can wear a medal.
- That DIN also gives the lie to your inducement to us to wear medals if we want to because ‘it is not policed’ – such inappropriate and under-hand Departmental incitement underlines the importance of public Notices and DINs.
In summary, the attached papers support the view that eligible private citizens have The Queen’s permission to wear the PJM – and that some civil servants ( and I do not refer to the HD Committee) have acted outside their remit and in their advice have misrepresented the facts in order to circumvent The Queen’s decree in order that they may continue to withhold the permission that She has already approved.
My purpose in writing to you is to inform you of the above, and to confirm that I shall continue this matter until it is openly and fairly resolved for all those who have been presented with the PJM.
The London Gazette 3rd May 1968 (Click to go to Enclosure)
The Errors and Omissions in the Cabinet Office “Full Statement” (Click to go to Enclosure)
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THE PINGAT JASA MALAYSIA (PJM)
AND WHY ELIGIBLE BRITISH RECIPIENTS MAY BOTH RECEIVE AND WEAR THE MEDAL
THE LONDON GAZETTE – 3RD MAY 1968
A London Gazette Notice dated 3 rd May 1968 officially promulgates the news that eligible private citizens have The Queen’s approval to wear a medal She has approved for acceptance. All parties agree that the Notice is extant and applies as much today as it did in 1968.
The London Gazette is the accepted organ through which official Notices regarding Honours, Decorations and Medals are promulgated.
We have been told that The Queen approved acceptance of the PJM and, because She did not decree that the medal should not be worn, the Gazette Notice applies to the PJM.
Those eligible under the Notice are those not in Crown Service on the day the medal was approved for conferral by The Queen – and that applies to the vast majority of those eligible for the PJM who had left the services many years before the medal was conferred in January 2006.
It should be noted that ex-service personnel are specifically instructed to abide by Gazette Notices.
Civil servants have endeavoured to circumvent the official Notice and have stated that it is their decree that matters and not that of the Sovereign. We do not agree.
The London Gazette – 3rd May 1968
On the 12th March 2007 the Cabinet Office issued a six-page “full statement” setting out its justification for trying to withhold formal permission for the PJM to be worn. That statement omitted all reference to the following London Gazette Notice of 3 rd May 1968:
“The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve that Orders, Decorations and Medals conferred with Her Majesty’s permission upon United Kingdom citizens not being servants of the Crown by the Heads or Governments of Commonwealth countries as defined above, or of foreign States, may in all cases be worn by the recipients without restriction.”
It is our view that that notice promulgates The Queen’s permission for eligible British recipients of the PJM to wear their medal.
Oddly, the civil servants in the Cabinet Office do not agree.
The Cabinet Office View
When the Notice was brought to the attention of the Cabinet Office, their reply acknowledged the existence of the Notice and they went on to reject The Queen’s decree saying it did not apply to recipients of the PJM. Their sole justification was a reference to paragraph 14 of the defunct (by their own admission) 1969 “Part A - Regulations concerning the Acceptance and Wearing by Persons in the Service of the Crown of Orders Decorations and Medals conferred by Heads or Governments of Foreign States and by Members of the Commonwealth Overseas of which The Queen is not the Head of State”.
The Cabinet Office position is that eligibility rests on whether you were in Crown Service at the time of PJM service. Our view is that eligibility rests on whether you were in Crown Service at the time the medal was conferred in 2006.
The key is to understand what was intended by those who were party to the drafting and publishing of the Gazette Notice – the Notice that The Queen approved - and it is on their explanation that we rely, not on that of the current and prejudiced incumbents in the Cabinet Office who have reversed the Notice’s meaning in order to justify their argument!
The following notes explain why we are confident that our advice is correct.
Why both the 1969 Regulations and their selected paragraph cannot be relevant
- Government Departments have stated that the 1969 Regulations were replaced in 2005 by new Foreign Decorations Rules – the 1969 Regulations are therefore defunct. (NB The 2005 Rules do not contain a paragraph with similar wording to the 1969 defunct Regulations)
- It is inappropriate and misleading to call on defunct internal guidance notes to deny an extant public Notice approved by The Sovereign and published in the London Gazette, the ‘long-established’ formal channel for promulgating such information.
- The 1969 Regulations would in any event be irrelevant because they refer to the background regarding the acceptance and wearing of medals that might be offered by a Foreign country – they are not designed to address the position of medals the status of which has already been decided as is the case of the PJM which The Queen has approved for acceptance.
- The 1969 Regulations are divided into two parts. Part A refers to those in Crown Service. Part B refers to those not in Crown Service. The Cabinet Office selected paragraph is from Part A (those in Crown Service at the time the medal request is being considered) and does not appear in Part B which refers to those not in Crown Service when the medal request is under consideration, i.e. the vast majority of those eligible for the PJM.
- The 1969 Regulations specify “These Regulations do not relate to awards of campaign or commemorative war medals” and the Cabinet Office has said in its ‘full statement’ that it doesn’t matter which nomenclature is applied to the PJM. On that basis, the 1969 Regulations would be immaterial even if they were extant, which they are not.
Having established the irrelevance of the Cabinet Office’s sole reference for dismissing the London Gazette Notice, there are many positive references to confirm that the Notice does indeed apply to the majority of those eligible for the PJM, i.e. those who had retired and were not in Crown service at the time The Queen approved conferral of the PJM on British citizens in January 2006.
Why the London Gazette applies to eligible private citizens enabling the majority to wear their PJM
- The London Gazette Notice is extant - the Notice has not been rescinded or amended.
- The Notice applies to past (pre-Notice) and future awards.
- The Queen has approved acceptance of the PJM therefore the Notice applies to the PJM.
- The natural meaning of the words in the Notice is clear – those eligible can wear their medal if they were private citizens when the medal was conferred (in January 2006).
- All doubt as to the definition of eligibility is expunged by the explanation of eligibility promulgated at the time by the contemporaneous HD Committee and other interested parties (which included the Foreign/Commonwealth Offices):
“The new policy applies to awards already conferred as well as to any which may be bestowed upon United Kingdom private citizens in the future.”
“Crown servants who have retired may not take advantage of the new policy in regard to awards conferred upon them during their official life time.”
- That explanation given at the time ensures that there is no doubt. The combined result is that the recipient is eligible if he or she is a private citizen at the time that The Queen gives her permission for the award to be conferred.
- We have support for our view from an unexpected quarter. When addressing the matter of Dual Nationality in their recent “full explanation”, the Cabinet Office states that it is the current position that is relevant – i.e. not the status at the time the service was carried out.
- ‘Confer’ must follow ‘approval’. If there is any doubt about the interpretation of ‘confer’, it is long-established practise to refer to requests to present a decoration or medal as “proposals to confer” (note the future tense). The ‘confer’ happens after the proposal has been accepted – in the case of the PJM the Cabinet Office tells us that the proposal was made in March 2005, and the notification of that proposal being accepted was in January 2006 and so the medal was conferred on or about that date.
Why we must take into account the MoD Defence Instruction and Notice 10-002 of January 2006
- The Queen has approved acceptance of the PJM and as a result the 1968 London Gazette Notice applies.
- MoD DIN 10-002 of January 2006 specifically states that ex-service personnel should adhere to the DIN under which it is incumbent on them to conform to London Gazette Notices such as that of the 3 rd May 1968.
In correspondence over two years regarding the PJM, no Government Department has referred to the 1969 Regulations or even hinted at its relevance to the PJM. One can only surmise why they should they wish to do so now.
The Cabinet Office have had to rely on defunct Regulations and on just one guidance provision within them - a provision that is not relevant to the PJM which is a medal that has already been approved for acceptance by The Queen.
Turning to the explanation of those who created the Gazette Notice at the time, the Cabinet Office have not only changed the recommendation of the contemporaneous Committee and Government Departments, they have actually reversed it. Yet in their “full statement”, and on many previous occasions when trying to defend the 5-year myth, they say that is something they will never do.
The fact of the matter is that the recommendation to the Queen sought Her approval for the medal to be accepted. Once Her Majesty approved acceptance, the PJM fell within the auspices of the London Gazette Notice. If that was not the intention, the recommendation should not have been put before The Queen.
The London Gazette Notice is extant, applies to the PJM, and applies to British citizens who were private citizens on the 31 January 2006 when The Queen approved acceptance of the medal.
As a consequence of the above, it is our firm view that those not “in their official life time” on the 31 st January 2006 have the Queen’s approval to wear their PJM on formal occasions.
[10th April 2007]
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THE PINGAT JASA MALAYSIA (PJM)
AND WHY ELIGIBLE BRITISH RECIPIENTS MAY UNEXCEPTIONALLY BOTH RECEIVE AND WEAR THE MEDAL
THE ERRORS AND OMISSIONS IN THE CABINET OFFICE ‘FULL STATEMENT’
We do understand that yet another paper on the matter of the PJM – and one that is nine pages long – may seem one paper too many on an issue on which the civil service claim to have issued their final statement (there is no such thing). But please bear with us while we explain how a few civil servants have seriously misled you and, in so doing our case, have maliciously represented our case, a case we put forward on behalf of 35,000 British Malaya-Borneo veterans.
We would also underline that this is not the first time civil servants have behaved like this to deny ordinary men and women the acknowledgement they deserve. Indeed, they have a “long-established” track-record. That is what is so sad about this latest example of civil service obduracy and obfuscation … we’ve seen it all before.
But, those previous cases of medallic ‘injustice’ were reversed after people like you took the time and trouble to read papers like this that rebut what is being said and done in your name.
The Cabinet Office ‘Full Statement”
On the 12 March, Commonwealth Day, the Cabinet Office issued a ‘full statement’ when justifying why they would not change the Ministerial Statement which purports to withhold formal permission for the PJM to be worn.
- That statement makes a travesty of the case put forward by those seeking permission to wear the PJM on formal occasions. The statement simply reiterates the myths and half-truths they have previously promulgated.
- The statement does not fairly, openly (nor even-handedly) address the issues we raised to support the case for the withdrawal of the withholding of formal permission for the PJM to be worn.
Their paper is full of half-truths, and is notable more for what it has omitted than for what it contains. Over 50% of their ‘full statement’ has little to do with the case – and has everything to do with creating a false and misleading picture.
We submit that the paper is a deliberate attempt to mislead MPs, MSPs, interested parties and British veterans. In the following notes we summarise why we believe readers have not received the full and even-handed explanation that they are entitled to expect from civil servants. We are very happy to have our case, and everything we say in this paper, put under independent scrutiny – but not by the civil servants whom we no longer trust.
The Commonwealth Perspective
The ‘full statement’ does not even bother to address this fundamental issue. To have done so would have been to demonstrate the anti-Commonwealth and divisive nature of the discredited PJM recommendation.
- The PJM is presented by a Commonwealth country to Commonwealth forces who successfully protected a newly independent Commonwealth country. We asked for this to be taken into account – it was not even mentioned.
- The Queen has granted approval to all Commonwealth forces except the British. We asked why? No response.
- We asked for the particular, and very relevant, role of the 28 th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade to be taken into account. Thousands served in that unit, few have a medal, and only the British have been denied a wearable PJM – the Australians and New Zealanders rightly wear their PJM with the Queen’s approval. No mention at all of this vital unit! To have addressed our question would have been to highlight the incongruous and divisive nature of the recommendation.
- Two further issues that underline their contempt for our case:
- Our latest Departmental correspondence is from the Minister with responsibility for relations with China! - the country that funded and encouraged the very enemy we had to defeat. Do the civil servants understand so little of this important part of Malaysia’s history?
- The ‘full statement’ condemning the PJM as sub-standard was promulgated on Commonwealth Day.
The Official Position – HMG or The Queen – Which is it?
The statement quotes the official position as being “All British citizens require permissionfrom HMG to accept and wear foreign state awards”.
- This is not so. Throughout time, all the Foreign Decorations Rules that we can trace, all the correspondence we have received from Government Departments, refer to permission from The Monarch.
- Why have they suddenly changed the very foundations of the Honours System in which it is The Queen who is the Fount of all Honours?
The HD Committee
The Cabinet Office statement accuses veterans – all, not some or a few – of questioning the integrity of the HD Committee.
- This is a disgraceful attempt to try and bring readers on-side and to marginalise British veterans. As far as this writer is aware (and I help lead the whole campaign seeking permission to wear the PJM) that has never been the case.
- What we have done is to call into question the integrity of some civil servants when briefing the HD Committee and others– and the ‘full statement’ that this paper rebuts is a classic example of why we charge civil servants with inappropriate and erroneous advice to the HD Committee and others.
We condemn this accusation for what it is – a crude ploy that has back-fired, and one that does them no credit at all.
- The accusation is similar to the accusation of us being “disaffected veterans” (because we questioned the Ministerial Statement) or of the writer being told he could put his PJM back into his Kellogg’s packet (for all it meant to the civil servant at the MoD in terms of its medallic standing).
Readers should not be led into believing that this Committee actually sits down to consider these issues in debate between themselves. We were told on several occasions that the HD Committee ‘met’ on the 6 th December 2006. Only after prolonged questioning did the civil servants change their tune and say that the HD Committee did not meet – in fact it seldom meets.
- And so there has been no in-depth discussion between the members.
- They never even met to discuss the PJM! A few memos were passed between them – and if this ‘full statement’ is anything to go by, then it is no wonder that the Committee has been led into making a recommendation the way they have.
- The HD Committee consists of people whose main occupation is in heading up the major Governmental Departments – or of those engaged on other weighty business. In the context of all we hear from the media about those Departments, these men (there are no women – never have been as far as I am aware) have their work cut out elsewhere and so must rely on briefings from civil servants.
- The HD Committee’s considerations, such as they are, are carried out in secret and even those parts of their considerations that have no bearing on advice to The Queen (an excuse for not releasing information under the Freedom of Information Act) are not open to public scrutiny.
- Therein, we claimed, lies a serious weakness in the system but these issues have not been addressed in their statement.
The Malaysian High Commission
In order to support its position, the statement actually brings in the Malaysian High Commission as if they were a silent party to the flawed PJM recommendation!
- The fact of the matter is that the British bullied the gracious Malaysians into retracting their first offer and then, after the Malaysians resubmitted their gracious offer a month later, let them sit and watch as the civil servants condemned the PJM as a sub-standard medal not worthy of being worn on a British Medal bar.
The PJM - A Sub-Standard Medal
We were appalled that the statement should underline that the civil servants consider the PJM as sub-standard.
- When judging the PJM to be not up to standard they showed contempt for all because they stated they arrived at their judgement having taken into account our relations with Malaysia and the Malaysian people!
Wear the PJM if you want to – “it is not policed”
Having gone to great lengths to prevent the PJM being worn, and to great cost in defending that indefensible recommendation, we are invited to wear the PJM if we want to because such wear by civilians “is not policed”!
Any inducement to do anything just because “it is not policed” is simply not acceptable in our society.
- This is an extraordinary incitement to commit a grave discourtesy to The Queen behind Her back.
- There is an MoD Defence Instruction and Notice that specifically tells ex-service personnel not to do this. Why do they urge us to do so?
Where will such inducements end? Are we being urged to go out and commit misdemeanours that are not policed?
Foreign Decoration Rules
More obfuscation. The statement refers time and time again to the long-standing nature of the 5-year myth.
- What the statement does not do is to explain its application as a rule “more or less of an arbitrary nature”.
- Carefully chosen words obfuscate the basic truth that the 5-year rule is a means of controlling medals for ordinary people.
- Carefully crafted words hide the fact that in 2005 they introduced replacement Foreign Decorations rules just to deny the PJM. We have asked under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA ) for information relating to the replacement of rules – the FoIA requests have not even been acknowledged. Why? Because they have acted incorrectly and retrospectively and they do not want readers to understand that.
- Sleight of hand. Government Departments have made the point that the Queen wishes to, and always does, approve rule changes. We have asked if she approved, or had even seen, the 2005 rules. They have refused to confirm or deny that simple question. Why? Because now the HD Committee have taken over approving rule changes. The statement confirms that we have been misled.
- But they made a glaring mistake. They now say the HD Committee have approved matters recently and, because we have seen The Queen’s initials on the 1969 Regulations, they can only mean that civil servants ‘approved’ the new 2005 Foreign Decorations rules that they concocted in secret. Was this in order that The Queen should not be aware of what they were doing in respect of the PJM?
The PJM and Formal Permission
The statement reiterates the 5-year rule as the “primary” grounds for withholding formal permission to wear the PJM.
- They have not addressed our accusation that the 5-year rule is a myth typically employed to deny ordinary people a medallic acknowledgement of their loyal service.
- As mentioned above, even their own Departments have acknowledged the role of the ‘rule’ as being “more or less of an arbitrary nature”.
- The statement omits all mention of the many examples we quoted of medals receiving approval for wear that break this rule.
- They quote one reason for its employment – the current HD Committee cannot revisit and amend an earlier decision made by a contemporaneous Committee. Yet that is exactly what they are now doing in relation to the London Gazette Notice (see attached paper on this subject). Why would they continuously say one thing to the reader and act quite differently when it suits them?
More on the ‘Myth’ of the 5-Year Rule
Yet again the statement latches on to a myth in an attempt at brainwashing the reader:
- They have not addressed our argument that for decades this ‘rule’ has been invoked or waived for purely political purposes.
- They do not address our point that this rule, when used, was used primarily for British Campaign medals and not Foreign Commemorative medals like the PJM. Why the omission?
- There is no mention of the many medals we quote that break this ‘rule’. Why?
- Their own Departments have referred to this ‘rule’ as “being more or less of an arbitrary nature”! Yet they continue the pretence that is it long-established policy. It isn’t.
- There is no mention of our point that an artificial and ad hoc 5-year embargo should not apply to a Commemorative medal – a medal that means so much to Malaysia because it is only now that we can all appreciate exactly what was achieved 40 years ago in terms of peace in the region, democracy in the region, and economic stability. It may be anathema to the Minister with responsibility for China (who sent out copies of the ‘full statement’!), but it means everything to Malaysia and to British Malaya-Borneo veterans.
The Myth of the Double Medal Rule
The statement omits reference to the many double medals we have quoted that break this rule.
- There is no mention of our point that the double medal rule first saw the light of day in Foreign Decorations Rules in 2005 – after the PJM was offered.
- Not one of our examples has been repudiated.
- They know that the PJM is not a double medal for the majority of PJMers – but they won’t admit it.
The Malta 50 th Anniversary Medal – A Double Medal issued 50 Years after the Events
The ‘full statement’ purports to go into detail about having considered all similar awards when assessing the PJM.
- Why then, have they knowingly not addressed our reference to this vital comparison?
- Why have they not offered the reader details of the Malta medal which we have raised more often than any other medal?
- It is a double medal and was awarded 50 years after the event.
- It is on all fours with the PJM but has been omitted. Why? Surely not because to have included it would have been to destroy their whole case!
The 42 other Foreign Medals
Reading the statement one could be forgiven for believing that the matter of Foreign Medals being accepted for wear consists of a few exceptions to a general principle that such medals would not be accepted.
- There is no mention of the 42 recent Foreign medals we quote as being wearable on British uniforms, let alone on civilian clothes. Why?
Other Malaysian medals are mentioned to brainwash the reader
Here they bring in a smokescreen to try and cover a story that does not hang together.
- The Malaysian medals they quote have absolutely no relevance to our case. They have been brought in to try and brainwash the reader into believing they are relevant to the PJM. They are not.
But those medals do raise an important issue that might in part explain their obduracy over the PJM.
- When discussing the Malaysian medals, they do not tell the reader that the Malaysians explored the possibility of presenting a medal to forces in Borneo in the mid-1960’s. This idea was rejected and an alternative suggestion from the British was considered - that instead of the ordinary men and women receiving a medal for putting their lives on the line in Borneo, why not let the Malaysians present just one instead … to a British Commander! That mean-spirited denial is documented in the National Archives. Is this why the PJM has been treated the way it has been? Simply to deny ordinary men and women a little bit of pride and joy in what they did so selflessly so many years ago.
- Nor does the statement mention that the National Archives record how the British have upset the Malaysians time and time again in the matter of medals – to the point where the British said that they would in the future try and make up for any embarrassment they had caused by fast-tracking Malaysian medals for acceptance and wear. The PJM issue indicates that yet again they have reneged on their intentions.
Military Operations in Malaysia 1957 – 1966
More callous and misleading ploys. Why does the statement produce one paragraph in bold type – a paragraph that has absolutely nothing to do with the PJM?
Those who prepared this Statement know full well that we have never asked for eligibility for British Campaign Medals to be re-examined. Why should we? They have nothing to do with the PJM which is a Foreign Commemorative Medal.
They have raised this aspect in order to try and mislead the reader into thinking we had a wider agenda and were gong-chasing. They have done this before on the Internet, calling us “disaffected veterans” seeking new medals for past service.
This is a blatant attempt to undermine the reader’s confidence in British veterans. It is a shameful act but, unhappily, is totally consistent with so many others. They have brought themselves and the British Honours System into disrepute.
Misleading and carefully selected but inappropriate ‘comparisons’
The statement attempts to confuse and mislead the reader into believing that the PJM exception was in line with similar medals.
- Three medals referred to consist of a Foreign Campaign Medal, a Medal of Honour and a Greek WW2 War Medal! None have anything in common with the PJM.
- Reference is made to the Russian 40 th Anniversary Medal – a medal that breaks every rule in the book but underlines the political nature of these decisions. The medal is a double medal approved 50 years after the events when, following the break-up of the USSR, Russia was seen as politically correct and it is recorded that the medal was accepted on that basis. When will Malaysia become politically correct or acceptable?
The ‘full statement’ makes a mockery of our case by knowingly misrepresenting issues we raised – and purposefully omitting others. The statement admits that in one critical area the Committee focused on just two of our many points.
- We raised the Naval General Service Medal as an example of men with no British medal – it had nothing to do with wanting to re-open the case as they suggest. And they know it.
- We raised the Accumulated Campaign Service Medal as an example of a double medal that was still being presented decades after the service to which it relates (thus also breaking the 5-year rule as well) – our point had nothing to do with their explanation.
In both instances, their carefully crafted words and irrelevant explanations are designed to camouflage their inability to actually address the points we raised.
We are appalled if the civil servants brief the HD Committee in this way. If this has happened, we charge those civil servants with knowingly misleading the HD Committee by misrepresenting our case to them.
The statement purports to answer our simple question – does a person with Dual Nationality have formal permission to wear their PJM? But it does not.
- The statement does not address our very serious accusation that the Ministerial Statement discriminates between British citizens and British tax-payers – many dual nationality people are both.
- They state that there are no rules for Dual Nationals! That is nonsense. They have been quoting rules to Dual Nationals for two years.
- If there are no rules for Dual Nationals, there are no Rules for anyone.
- Dual Nationals had to apply under British rules – the civil servants know that. Why do they deny it?
- They suggest that Dual Nationals should take note of their present location when deciding whether they can wear their PJM. That is clear discrimination against others.
- Then their tour de force – their suggestion that we should have medal bars made with Velcro so that we can add or subtract the PJM depending on where in the world we are standing! Is that an answer? It is if you have a callous disregard for Malaysia and for what a medal bar means to ex-service personnel.
The MoD did not want to check service records
Is there a simple explanation for the lengths the civil servants have gone to to try and prevent the PJM receiving formal permission to be worn?
- On explanation that we have put to them but which they have omitted to address in their ‘full statement’ is that the MoD did not want to check service records.
- The MoD continually referred to the cost of checking records.
- But is that a cover for the fact that many service records have been destroyed, thus making a 100% check impossible.
This is not the first time this has happened. In 1994, The Times newspaper reported:
“… foreign medals awarded for services dating back more than five years could not be approved by Whitehall because of the difficulty of checking through war records to see who was eligible.”
So there you have another reason why a 5-year rule has been invoked to deny a medal – a reason that the ‘full statement’ makes no mention of.
Correspondence between civil servants and campaigners
The statement says “The quantity of this correspondence has meant that it has not been possible to reply to every letter or email”.
- This is another classic example of ‘civil servant speak’ for the truth.
- This writer is one of those leading the campaign for the right to wear the PJM – and the civil servants are aware of that (they refer to the Rebuttals by reference to my name). I have submitted two such Rebuttals and a number of letters that raise important questions.
- And I have raised questions under the Freedom of Information Act.
- I have been courteous at all times.
- But since I submitted my first Rebuttal in June 2006 at no time have I received one single answer to any letter. I have not even received an acknowledgement of my Freedom of Information Act requests (there is a statutory obligation on them to do so). For the most part, I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement. And the same applies to many other people.
- The situation became so serious that every letter was sent via “Guaranteed Delivery” – at a high additional cost – just so that I would know that the letter had been delivered.
Support for our case
We have said that the support we have for our case should be taken into account:
- The majority of MPs support us – hundreds have signed PJM EDMs.
- The people support us – one BBC programme found 100% for our case.
- Dignitaries with considerable experience support us – including Privy Counsellors and Barristers.
- Ex-Veterans Ministers support us (including Don Touhig who was the Minister at the time of the Ministerial Statement).
- The Defence Minister at the time, Lord Healey, supports us.
- Ordinary people from around the world, on five continents, support us.
But they have not addressed this aspect in their ‘full statement’ as we asked them to do.
Ours is a simple case but the Cabinet Office ‘full statement’ actually avoids addressing it!
Our case is that the Ministerial Statement was based upon inappropriate and erroneous advice leading to the situation whereby (allegedly) two ‘rules’ were waived to enable a medal to be received but immediately invoked to withhold permission for the medal to be worn by British veterans, and only the British within the Commonwealth forces that served Malaysia. That is incongruous, snubs both Malaysia and British Malaya-Borneo veterans, and has no place in today’s society.
Our case (that the advice from civil servants was inappropriate and erroneous and so the Ministerial Statement should be amended) is supported by the London Gazette Notice of the 3 rd May 1968. This Notice gives eligible private citizens the right to wear the PJM. No mention of that Notice has ever been made – but the Cabinet Office has now been forced to acknowledge its existence.
That Notice is extant. And we are pleased. Not just for ourselves but for Malaysia and its people, and for those we left behind. The PJM can be worn on formal occasions by eligible British citizens, alongside their Commonwealth friends – however frustrating that may be for the few civil servants who are trying to say otherwise.
It is our view that that permission should now be extended to everyone – including the few who were still in Crown Service when The Queen approved acceptance of the medal in January 2006. Anything short of this removes the ‘Honour’ from the Honours System.
Finally, we await the promised review of the Foreign Decorations system – it is well overdue. We hope to be actively involved in providing information to the review panel and will make all our records available including the 500 pages copied from the National Archives that support what we say and that tell the sorry story of a British Honours system that is a complete shambles – a ‘system’ mismanaged with intent, and in secret, by a small group of civil servants. As the Second Sea Lord said only this week, longstanding rules need to be looked at in the light of modern society and its expectations. The British Foreign Decorations Rules review should be the first.
[10 April 2007]
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