Malaysiakini Malaysians Kini

Retired army officer relives hostage memories to inspire others

Harith Najmuddin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MALAYSIANS KINI For most people, traumatic experiences are something that we would like to leave behind. While we may learn lessons from it, most would not want to talk of it ever again.

But for lieutenant-colonel (rtd) Ganase Jaganathan, formerly of the Kor Armor Diraja (Royal Armoured Corps), sharing some of the most traumatic episodes of his life is what he does regularly.

He often recounts what it was like having to face a drunk whiskey-bottle-wielding Sierra Leone rebel commander in control of dozens of gunmen, being whisked away in a pink Mercedes full of rifle-wielding rebels, having a gun barrel pressed against his head and having a sharp knife held to his throat while being told that he was going to be killed.

“I accept the reality that I have gone through it, and I feel that I am fortunate that I came out of it alive so that I can share my experiences with potential military observers who will be deployed for missions,” said Ganase.

He was referring to his experience being abducted and held hostage when he was a UN military observer during the 1991 - 2002 Sierra Leone civil war.

Ganase, then a major with over 20-years of service in the Malaysian army, was deployed as a UN military observer with the UN mission in Sierra Leone (Unamsil), from 1999 to 2000.

He served a one-year tour in Sierra Leone, being stationed at government-held Kenema for the first half, and rebel-controlled Makeni for the second.

While serving in Makeni, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels attacked one of the UN demobilisation camps. He was sent to scout out the status of the camp when communications were cut off after reports of an approaching rebel force, and was subsequently taken hostage...

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