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Ghazali Che Mat a True Patriot with a Heart for All Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR: He was not only a true patriot but displayed real nationalism, with a heart for all Malaysians.

That was the late General (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Ghazali Che Mat, who served as the country’s eighth armed forces chief.

The handsome and debonair general shared a great camaraderie with Malaysians of all races, creed and ethnicity, whom he considered of equal standing.

Ghazali, who died on Wednesday at the Tuanku Mizan Armed Forces Hospital in Wangsa Maju aged 90, left a legacy as an astute leader not only in the military but the corporate world.

After retirement in 1987, Ghazali went on to be appointed, among others, as chairman of the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd.

Former New Straits Times editor-in-chief Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan, in an Instagram post, shared his memories of Ghazali, particularly during an NSTP board meeting chaired by the latter.

Kalimullah said Ghazali did not take to liking a remark by a board member concerning the appointment of a new non-Malay NST group editor.

“I had appointed Brendan Pereira, an Indian Catholic, as NST group editor but that did not sit well with some right-wing Umno leaders and ministers, who had friends on the board.

“At one board meeting, I think a year after Brendan was appointed, the board members agitated for Brendan to be sacked.

“It was a stormy meeting with directors split almost evenly.

“Ghazali, who had remained silent, suddenly banged the table when one director said: ‘It’s an Umno newspaper. We can’t have an Indian running it’,” said Kalimullah.

Kalimullah said the infuriated Ghazali replied: “Enough. I am a soldier. I fought alongside Indians, Chinese, Sikhs, Ibans, Eurasians… they spilled their blood for this country. I will not listen to any more of this. Brendan stays.”

He added that the vocal directors were stunned into silence and bowed their heads – perhaps in embarrassment, perhaps in shame.

“That was Tan Sri Ghazali Che Mat. Rest in peace, General. May Allah SWT place you among his beloved,” he wrote.

Ghazali’s eldest daughter Norliza said her father died at 6.33pm on Wednesday from complications arising from severe septicaemia and pneumonia resulting in multi-organ failure.

READ ALSO: Passing Of 8th Malaysian Chief Of Defence Forces General Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Panglima Mohd Ghazali Bin Hj Che Mat (Retired)

She said her father had been in the intensive care unit since July 4 after complaining of breathing difficulties at home in Ulu Kelang.

Ghazali, who also leaves behind three sons, had last month sought treatment at the hospital and was subsequently warded.

Norliza said funeral arrangements were made at the Khalid Al-Walid mosque at the Defence Ministry in Jalan Padang Tembak on Wednesday night before burial at the AU Keramat Muslim cemetery yesterday.

Ghazali, born on Dec 17, 1930 in Lenggong, Perak enlisted as a cadet officer with the Federation Military College in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan in 1953.

He was commissioned as a second-lieutenant into the Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) in 1954.

He attended the Officer Cadet School at Eaton Hall, England for six months before being selected for training at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England for 18 months.

In 1954, Ghazali attended training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMA Sandhurst) in England for 18 months after six months at the Eaton Hall Cadet School.

Ghazali was a highly decorated officer, having been bestowed with the country’s second highest gallantry award, the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) on August 31, 1958.

He earned this as a young lieutenant, after successfully leading his RMR platoon against an ambush of a Communist Party of Malaya terrorist group in the deep jungles of the peninsula on Nov 13, 1957.

During the clash on a hill, Ghazali and Private Hassan Selati reportedly made a surprise counter-attack, killing two insurgents and forcing the enemy to retreat.

He was appointed as army chief in 1984 and a year later, as the eighth Chief of Defence Forces, before retiring in 1987.

Prior to that, Ghazali held several other positions during his service, including Intelligence Department chief of staff, Prime Minister’s Department Team VII director, 9th Infantry Brigade commander and as the military attache in Jakarta.

After retirement, Ghazali served as NSTP chairman for a considerable number of years from 1988.

He also served as the chairman of the Armed Forces Superannuation Fund (LTAT) and Boustead Holdings until 2019.

Article by Adrian David – July 8, 2021 @ 9:30pm

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