By Neal Catley.

That it has taken the Office of the Chief of Defence Force following its protracted South East Asia Medallic Review [aka threat assessment analysis phase] to state it presently
remains inconclusive in some areas and needs more work in consultation with other government units to make a robust case in order to support NZDF personnel deployed to the FESR/ANZUK theatre from 1966 to 1975 to justify a medallic award is undeniably frustrating.

For their services in what the British Commander-in-Chief Far East stated was hostile territory for all service personnel stationed in Singapore and Malaysia, surely warrants retrospective recognition for New Zealand Defence Forces, with a medallic award of the FESR medal struck by the United Kingdom specifically for allied commonwealth countries.  To their credit, the Australians immediately responded and honoured their personnel for doing quite literally, task for task exactly what the NZ Forces were called upon to do. Not to grant that award is considered churlish and runs contrary to the Commonwealth ‘first eleven’ way of doing business.

It is worthwhile re-reading Brian Edwards BLOG that he posted
some months ago.
EXTRACT ONLY. War pensions issued a directive stating that all Royal New Zealand Navy personnel stationed with the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve are to be deemed to have emergency service for the purposes of the War Pensions Act. [Social Security Appeal Authority {18 June 2007} HC WN CIV 2007/485/330].

In stark contrast to para 2 and 3 above the South East Asia medallic review thus far, is distractingly agonising! I’m led to believe if one should wish to torture FESR/ANZUK
military historical data for long enough it will confess to anything one may want it to be.  Added to that, consulting the Chair of the previous 2014 review could well be considered akin to awarding an unconditional contract to a ‘Skulk of Foxes’ to carry out a ‘stocktake’ of a large chicken farm. Those loyal and in many cases long-serving NZ Forces who served under the FESR/ANZUK banner appear to be ‘under the pump’ with the possibility of being shafted by the sword of Philistines.

On the face of it, OVER NEARLY FIVE YEARS, a few bureaucrat influencers seem to have done their best to obstruct and stonewall NZ Forces FESR/ANZUK medallic recognition.
Further, it would seem there was no moral compass and no independent non-military guiding star input. Thus, it would be easy to secure failure.  This of itself is considered not only unsatisfactory but, also mildly offensive.

Surely, it is now accepted wisdom and also in the public interest that the Association should engage with ‘trusted journalists’ and the law fraternity [non-military] to elevate this naked anomaly.  That is, with solid legal advice and guidance using credible social media channels to stimulate this aberration within the New Zealand community and beyond our shores.

Also, to further highlight and resolve this contentious conundrum it would not be unrealistic or, out-of-line to formally seek a government non-military independent inquiry; it having full unrestricted access to each and every FESR/ANZUK historical medallic document/paper. On the flip side, such independent inquiry conclusions and recommendations would, of course, have to be accepted beyond reasonable doubt
as full and final.  However, given the Association’s actions are based on 100 per cent factual historical documentation this could be accepted and embraced without trepidation.

It is almost certain the Prime Minister who has always sought justice and reparation for people from all walks of life, especially, those who have been treated unfairly will not be
impressed with the abnormal protracted South East Asia medallic review. It seems there are now two options. First, the Association to permanently close the FESR/ANZUK medallic recognition book in its entirety and sail off into the] sunset.  Or, alternatively, continue with passion and enthusiasm to pursue a meaningful positive result along the
lines suggested above.

Next steps? While sheltering in the Bay of Many Coves it would be sensible to first wait to see the outcome of CDF’s Report to MOD. If it’s considered unsatisfactory then, it seems there’s little wriggle room left other than to assume Damage Control State One [1] Alfa and proceed at best speed to seriously consider prosecuting social media channels at home and abroad. Anyway, OVER TO YOU good people as the Association will definitely need your help and support to contribute to the next tactical manoeuvre with an unfamiliar level of urgency!

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  1. Brandon Healy says:

    It seems crazy to me that throughout the world NZers have a reputation for being a hard working, competent people who also happen to have a healthy dose of common sense thrown in for good measure. Other armed forces seem to comment quite regularly, in my own personal experience, on how they enjoy working with the Kiwis who regularly seem to pull more weight than their small numbers should warrant. The UK has stated that the area was hostile and Australia have already set a precedent In suitably honouring their service personnel.
    What has happened to those competent people and that amazing country that have produced the armed forces that we should be so proud of? And where is the support of the people, that other countries, especially in sporting fraternities, are so envious of.

    If nothing else think of our international reputation.

    Sincerely Yours

    B Healy

  2. Dave Allen says:

    It seems to me that a deputation should meet with the Minister for Defence Ron Marks with a carefully planned agenda specifically designed to get a commitment from the Minister to take the matter forward and through to resolution. This would ideally run parallel with sympathetic media coverage that not only presents the substantive case for medallic recognition but also exposes the shameful bureaucratic foot dragging and stonewalling that is apparent in the halls of power.

  3. Brian Edwards says:

    Hi Neal. Firstly, well done on your “Opinion Article”. I am still searching for as to why the Association is using the dates of 1966-1975 re F.E.S.R.. I am sure it originates from the JWG (Joint Working Group) ‘Tossers’ final report that gave us absolutely nothing in 2011. I know this is not totally relevant but the following are a couple of extracts and it is noted this WAS a foreign award. At least the King of Malaysia thought we were worthy of recognition. Helen Clark didn’t!!

    “New Zealand and Malaysia enjoy a long-standing and valuable defence relationship. The offer of the PJM Medal is an acknowledgement that the contribution made by New Zealanders to the security of Malaysia, and indeed the region, is highly valued by the Malaysian government.

    Eligibility criteria

    Those members of the New Zealand Armed Forces who were on the posted strength of a unit of formation, and who served in the prescribed operational area of Malaysia and Singapore, in direct support of operations in Malaysia, for 90 days or more, in the aggregate, as follows:-

    1. Malaysia during the period 31 August 1957 to 31 December 1966 inclusive; and/or
    2. Singapore during the period 31 August 1957 to 9 August 1965 inclusive. Service between 12 August 1966 and 31 December 1966 will only be aggregated as qualifying service if a member was posted for operations to Malaya or Malaysia on or before 12 August 1966.

    Cheers – Keep up the good work

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