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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Borneo vets fight to wear medal
Malaya soldiers
British servicemen want the right to wear their Malaya medal
Jungle war veterans have hit out at Foreign Office rules which prevent them from wearing a medal for their service.

Thousands of soldiers who risked their lives in Borneo more than 40 years ago were awarded a Pingat Jasa Malaysia.

The UK Government recently backed down on rules banning the acceptance of foreign medals but has held back from granting permission to wear them.

Colonel Clive Fairweather said: "It's like giving someone a lollipop and saying you can't suck it."

About 200 veterans of the regiment's Borneo campaign met in Edinburgh at the weekend for a 40th anniversary meeting.

The vets said other Commonwealth soldiers had been given the right and vowed to keep the pressure on the government.

Col Fairweather, who organised the event, said: "It's all a bit cack-handed and mean-spirited. It's very disappointing and a bit of a snub to the Malaysian government.

It's not something that is policed as such. It's for the individual to decide if they wear the medal
Foreign Office spokesman

"Had it not been for a lot of servicemen, who in some cases sacrificed their lives or health, then there's no doubt that the present federation of Malaysia wouldn't exist."

In January, the Queen granted approval for eligible veterans who served from 1957 to 1966 to receive the Pingat Jasa Malaysia.

The period covers the Malayan Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation with the enlarged state of Malaysia after the addition of areas of Borneo in 1963.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that although veterans did not have official permission to wear the medal, it was up to the individual whether he chose to do so.

"It's not something that is policed as such. It's for the individual to decide if they wear the medal in light of the Queen's approval for them to receive it," he said.

"We appreciate how much the medals mean to the veterans and that's why a special exception was made for them to get it."


SEE ALSO:
Malaya veterans win medal battle
02 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Malaya veterans in fresh campaign
28 Oct 05 |  Scotland


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