The police officer extraordinaire, who died at the age of 88, had, from young, believed, fought and nearly died for a multiethnic Malaysia with justice and fairness to all, without any prejudice to Malays and other Bumiputeras.
He was an apolitical but politically conscious senior police officer, who put his country before self, which, coincidentally, was also the title of his 2008 book, Nation Before Self and Values That Do Not Die.
Sometimes controversial and with “straight from the shoulder” views, Yuen wrote the fascinating thoughts of one man and a national hero on where we are today as a nation and what the future holds.
National unity and lasting peace were uppermost on his mind. “We won the war against communist terrorism through a multiracial front and communal unity,” he once commented.
But, he said the nation had not been too successful in preserving peace “because some of our people began to think more on racial lines instead of maintaining the unity established during the dangerous Emergency times”.
Perak-born Yuen was a soldier’s soldier, and was greatly praised by his men and foes. Former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tun Hanif Omar, who delivered a eulogy at Yuen’s funeral service yesterday, sent a wreath, the message of which read: “A tiger dies and leaves behind its stripes; man dies and leaves behind his name and deeds.
“May you be long remembered for your courageous and exceptional services to the King and the country. “Farewell, friend.” Yuen, who died from heart failure, was buried yesterday with full Royal Malaysian Police honours.
Being a top police officer, Yuen led from the front and was twice wounded in action.
He also worked for 20 years in the Special Branch in secret, and was involved in delicate and risky security operations. He was both a strategist and tactician.
Hugely respected and feared, he was targeted for assassination in numerous failed communist operations. Yet, Yuen refused offers to migrate, even though his life was under threat.
“In 1984, when the IGP arranged for me to migrate because CPM still wished to assassinate me for doing my duty to the nation, I changed my mind because I still believed that enlightenment would still come, even as I knew, in 1978, that the degeneration of political and moral values with increasing racism continued.
“I bled inside for the nation I was twice shot for. “Our national task is to build a future for all, with moral, legal and constitutional justice.” He retired from the police force in 1984 as Sarawak police commissioner after 34 years in service.
One of his daughters’ speeches during his 80th birthday celebration summed up how she saw him as her father and an officer to his men.
“Your sense of duty to the country is everything to you, and for that, you would gladly lay your life down as a sacrifice, so that the country would be a better place for us to live in,” she said.
Yuen’s passing also serves as a timely reminder to us to recognise more of our unsung heroes, irrespective of race.
There are many more Yuens out there. There are also teachers and other civil servants who had served during the turbulent era, and in remote and hardship places. Kirkby- and Brinsford-trained teachers, too, had served tirelessly and should be given some recognition as well.
These two great teacher training institutions were established in Britain to train Malayan teachers before and in the early years of Merdeka.
They were the Kirkby Teachers’ College in Liverpool for primary school teachers and the Brinsford Teachers’ College for secondary school teachers in Wolverhampton.
The teachers who were trained there are considered legends in their field and great role models to our younger generation. They served a young nation, and were ready for any posting. They, too, have a story to tell.
So, too, our former sportsmen and sportswomen for the sacrifices they made without having much expectation. The younger generation should be told of the sacrifices of these unsung heroes, and that Malaysia would not be what it is today without the dedication and sacrifices of the people who once served the country.
I would like to end this piece with this great quote by Yuen: “My experiences in life and the police service have made me a continuing Chinese, also a Malay and an Indian, in one Chinese body. “If any race is hurt or deprived unjustly or unfairly, a part of myself feels hurt.”
A. Jalil Hamid NST Opinions Columnist 4 OCTOBER 2015 @ 11:02 AM