" After honouring security personnel on duty during the Lahad Datu intrusion, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has now awarded medals to media practitioners who covered the crisis.........The Prime Minister (Sic) said the medals were in appreciation of the services of media practitioners who had helped in disseminating information during the entire intrusion.“The media practitioners were exposed to a very high risk and yet they needed to channel accurate and authentic information to the people,” said Najib.He added that the news reports in the print and electronic media during and after the intrusion had united Malaysians and kindled the spirit of nationalism." From The Star.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Military Medals For Civilians - Why Not?
The Government of Malaysia has seen it fit to award the Pingat Kedaulatan Negara, a special medal for those who participated in the recent Lahad Datu action, to members of the media from both the public and private sector. Nonetheless this has invited critiques from local Defence Journalists who feels that "the decision to award the medals which were supposed to be a special item for security personnel and other government officers" "cheapens the medal".
I may be privy to the underlying reason why the decision was made, but then I will not divulge why in any case. But what I can say is that it seems those that are bad mouthing the award to these combat journalist are those who actually did not go into the field when the real combat action happened in their own backyard, maybe because they were content to remain defence journalist and not cover the action directly as those awarded did.
The point that I want to make is simple. Military bravery awards for bravery under combat conditions and gallantry awards for gallantry or an euphemism for bravery not considered as outrigth combat condition are not mutually exclusive for military men nor civilians as they claim. Let us take a look at the conditions for the Commonwealth Victoria Cross that our military shares a tradition where quote "Civilians are also eligible for some of the following awards: The Victoria Cross The first British medal to be created for bravery, the Victoria Cross ranks alongside the George Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry. It is awarded only in exceptional circumstances: "for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy." The records show that four civillian VC's were awarded during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and another civilian VC was awarded during the 2nd Afghan War in 1879.
The underlying link for the award of these Civilian VC's are that the recipients were working with the military, or while under military command when their action were recognised. I can say that this hints at the reason the Pingat Kedaulatan Negara awards were given to the media personnel, despite a claim that "media were not allowed with 15km radius of the scene (which why none of the defence journos here went - no way we agree to conduct coverage from far away)." They chose not to be there, so whatever they claim I consider as a matter of conjecture. I think that the numerous public coverage of the incident in the mass media even by non-government friendly media Malaysiakini and KiniTV journalists who by the way were also awarded contradicts that claim easily. Maybe they confuse it for a bravery medal rather than a service medal created to honour those who served at the frontline of Ops Daulat.
So make up your own opinion on whether these media practitioners deserve the award or otherwise. In the words of a recipient, they did not ask for the award nor expect but appreciated the fact they were awarded anyway. So to me it is outright rude for those who definitely did not deserve to be awarded with it as they chose not to cover the event to now question the award. Sounds like sour grapes to me.