WHILE Malaysian peacekeeping troops serving in Lebanon were resigned to celebrating Aidilfitri far from home, they received a pleasant surprise yesterday when two Cabinet ministers came a-knocking.
The Malaysian Battalion (Malbatt) 850-6, which is serving under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), were chuffed to be visited by Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng at their bases in Tibnin and Haris in Marakah camp, about 100km from the Lebanese capital Beirut.
Mohamad began his visit by commending the troops for their tireless and dedicated efforts in preserving peace and harmony in troubled Lebanon.
“(You) serve selflessly, irrespective of the (time of year), as the call of duty is (your) priority.
“(You) put service before self in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country and the world.
“Although it is (your) responsibility, we greatly appreciate your services,” said Mohamad, who then distributed Raya goodies to the troops.
The goodies were in abundance, as the Royal Services Corps, headed by Major Ridzuan Norman, had flown in traditional Malay delicacies like dodol, lemang and ketupat in time for Raya celebrations.
While it was Mohamad’s second meeting with the troops following a visit last year, Lim said it was his first time making a call on Malaysian peacekeepers abroad.
“I actually had plans to go on leave with my family, but decided to accompany Mohamad to visit our troops to see for myself the actual predicament they are in.
“I am proud of the services and sacrifices of our troops who have portrayed Malaysia’s image credibly,” said Lim.
Upon their arrival, both ministers were given a rousing welcome by Malbatt 850-6 commander Colonel Azhan Md Othman.
Mohamad and Lim then joined the troops in singing traditional Aidilfitri songs.
Also present were army deputy chief Lieutenant General Datuk Hasagaya Abdullah, Defence Intelligence director-general Lieutenant General Datuk Sheikh Mokhsin Sheikh Hassan and Joint Force chief of staff Major Gen Datuk Zulkapri Rahamat.
The 850-strong Malbatt includes 30 personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, who began a one-year tour of duty in September.
During the event, Azhan said that he was touched when presented with a video recording of Raya greetings from his family, including his mother, in Malaysia.