General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: a retired 4 star General & former Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia - So This Is My Why podcast interview STIMY Episode 92

Ep 92: Life of a 4 Star General Who Founded the Malaysian Special Forces | General Tan Sri Dato Borhan bin Ahmad (former Chief of Defence Forces, Malaysia)

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Welcome to Episode 92!

STIMY Episode 92 features General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad.

General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad is a retired 4 star General and former Chief of Defence Forces – which is the highest military rank that one can attain.

Standing at just above 5 feet:

  • He established the Malaysian special forces in the mid-1960s; 
  • Fought in the Congos, the Vietnam War and Malaysia’s Undeclared War; and
  • Even swam from Singapore to Johor because the British said that Malaysias could never become Commandos.


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    Who is Borhan?

    Before becoming a General, General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad was just a boy who grew up under Japanese occupation. He had to walk an hour to school every day, through forests rife with leopards and panthers, forage for king crabs & snails to eat and even pretend to be dead for years to avoid being taken away by the Japanese!

    A hard life as a child, but one that built him into who he is today.

    Although arguably, his running away to join military school was really all him 🙊

    • 1:43 Growing up under Japanese occupation
    • 3:54 Pretending he had died
    • 5:29 Running away to military school
    General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: a retired 4 star General & former Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia - So This Is My Why podcast interview STIMY Episode 92

    Life in the Military

    Spend any amount of time with the General & you’ll quickly learn that he does not take things easy and doesn’t hesitate to run towards conflict.

    Even if it meant being yelled at by One Star Generals & threatened with being court-martialled. 

    • 6:27 Military life
    • 7:41 Swimming through shark-infested waters from Pangkor Laut to Pulau Pangkor
    • 8:56 Swimming from Singapore to Johor to prove that the Malaysians could be Commandos too (to the British)
    • 9:51 Almost studying medicine
    • 11:59 Being transformed into a professional soldier
    • 12:49 Military strategies he learned
    • 15:40 What’s it like to kill someone?
    • 16:12 Was the General ever afraid of death?
    • 17:40 Be cruel in order to be kind
    • 18:28 What makes a good officer?
    General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: a retired 4 star General & former Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia - So This Is My Why podcast interview STIMY Episode 92

    Being a Great Military Leader

    We also spoke at length of some of his greatest exploits. Fighting in the Congos, the Vietnam War and Malaysia’s Undeclared War.

    What it takes to be a Commando and also a Great Leader. 

    His greatest achievements, and also his greatest regrets.

    And finally, his thoughts on the current state of the military forces and country of Malaysia.

    The very country he and his men repeatedly laid their lives down for,

    • 19:51 Fighting in the Congos
    • 23:18 Fighting in Malaysia’s Undeclared War
    • 27:08 Founding the Malaysian Special Forces
    • 26:43 What makes a Commando?
    • 27:52 The General’s toughest operation
    • 30:49 A father + 3 sons
    • 32:36 Fighting in the Vietnam War
    • 38:43 Giving up the Green Beret
    • 41:05 What is your leadership style? 
    • 41:58 The greatest leader he ever met
    • 44:44 Just join the system? 
    • 45:56 His greatest achievement as the Chief of Defence Forces
    • 47:00 Finding a treasure trove of oysters + getting Anuar to give him RM 500 million!
    • 49:02 Being threatened with court-martial 
    • 50:26 What he thinks of the Malaysian special forces today 
    • 54:29 The General’s greatest regret 
    • 56:24 Advice for those who want to be Commandos
    • 59:14 We are not building a nation for a better future
    If you want your men to love you, you take care of them. That’s why I took care of the men. Looked after their welfare. I provided them with a good living & working condition. I gave them the best of training; made them a real good man, good soldier. And of course, led by example.
    General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: a retired 4 star General & former Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia - So This Is My Why podcast interview STIMY Episode 92
    General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad
    Former Chief of Defence Forces, Malaysia

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Dato Thomas Lee: Son of Tun HS Lee & Founder of One of Malaysia’s Largest Law Firms
    • Eric Toda: Global Head of Social Marketing & Head of Meta Prosper, Meta
    • Nicole Quinn: Celebrity Whisperer & General Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. Portfolio Companies include Goop, Haus (Lady Gaga), The Honest Company, and Lunchclub
    • Phil Libin: Co-founder on Evernote & mmhmm on why startup success is worse than startup failure & why he thinks that the blockchain is bullish*t


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    General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: a retired 4 star General & former Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia - So This Is My Why podcast interview STIMY Episode 92

    STIMY Ep 92: General Tan Sri Dato’ Borhan bin Ahmad: On How He Became a 4* General & Chief of Defence Forces in Malaysia


    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: To me life and death is all in God's hand.

    And as far as I'm concerned, it's only God will determine when you die, how you die. So what is there to be afraid of? I was once asked by somebody are you afraid of death. I said, sir, you shouldn't be afraid of death too, because your lives all there. It's written when you will die, how you'll die. You wouldn't know how, but you'll die one day.

    So what is it to be afraid of? I've jumped the skies, the night skies and day skies all over. I should have died.

    I should have died when one day my parachute didn't open. I landed in a buffalo hole somewhere in the padi field.

    Ling Yah: It was like five feet deep. Right? And then you went still again.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yeah. I should have died. Well, God says you're not fated to die on that day, so I am still alive.

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone. And welcome to episode 92 of the, So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, and today's guest is General Tan Sri Dato' Borhan bin Ahmad. A retired four star general and former chief of defense forces, which is the highest military rank that one can obtain campaign. Standing at just about five feet, the general established the Malaysian special forces in the mid-1960s.

    He fought in the Congos, the Vietnam war and Malaysia's undeclared war, and even swam from Singapore to Johor because the British said that Malaysians could never become Commandos

    As you can imagine it, we have barely touched on what he has done and achieved his life and we unpack all that, including his military exploit, what it takes to be a great leader and his greatest regret in life.

    So if you'd like to learn more about what it takes to be a Commando and four star general, then this is episode for you.

    Are you ready?

    Let's go.

    You were born in 12th of December, 1939. And you grew up as a kampung boy in Melaka under the Japanese occupation. So what were your most memorable moments from your childhood?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. The most memorable moment I was in orphan at the age of one. My father passed away. Only my mother and my mother slogged to death to feed the three children that she had.

    I used to accompany her wherever she goes. Pady planting and all this and so on so forth. The most memorable one was we had a coconut plantation.

    She wants me to climb the coconut trees and, and.

    People take tuak. They tie the shoot to release all those being tied. So I climb I think over 30 trees when I was only about six years old.

    So it was quite a memorable moment as far as I'm concerned. Not only that foraging food, in a mangrove swamp almost daily to feed the family was another moment that I can never, ever forget.

    Ling Yah: You used to try and catch king crab as well.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: King crab, snails and all. All those that we could find from the mangrove swqmp. Another moment was my mother used to ask me to go and sell nasi lemak I used sell to carry about 10 bungkus nasi lemak from a basket, go to the river side, sell it to the fishermen. 1 sen a bungkus, you know?

    So I carry back 10 cents per today. Yes. Those are the moment that I can never forget assisting my mother when I was young. I used to follow my brother to school during Japanese time. And I used to sit on the floor beside him and seeing daily ritual during Japanese time was quite memorable arriving there in the morning, face the sun, sing Japanese song, they raise up the Japanese flag and so on so forth.

    I learned Kanji at the age of six. Kanji. This is Japanese Kanji, you know? So I cannot forget that the Japanese almost took me away to Japan.

    Ling Yah: Why?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Because they take young boys to Japan, adopt them there and then later send them back to be their man. Working for them.

    So I managed to escape. My uncle hid me somewhere.

    Ling Yah: Your brother actually told them that you had died, right?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes, exactly. So it was another moment that I won't forget. Okay!

    Ling Yah: And weren't you around eight, when your uncle in Kelantan adopted you, how did that happen?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: When I went to school the first term I did very well in school. I topped the class. So my mother wanted to give me a better education. So she asked my uncle take me to Muar, to go to the English school in Muar. So my uncle from Muar took me to Muar. Another uncle of mine a policeman in Kelantan came back and saw this. Took me from this uncle to Kelantan. That's how I landed in Kelantan.

    Can imagine you go to Kelantan, you don't understand Kelantanese language, totally different slang, different lingo altogether.

    Ling Yah: And even the food was different, right? That you talked about this thing called budhu which you liked, and then you found out ....

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: No, no no.

    Oh, terrible. Let's not talk about budhu. This is Kelantan favorite sauce you know. I don't like it. I don't like even smell budhu. Okay. Let's not what budhu.

    Ling Yah: Let's not. You ended up running away from your home in Kelantan to enrol in the boys' company and your uncle didn't want you do that. What was it? Why did you do that?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: When there were people from the Mentri college came were asking for people who want to join the boy's wing bus company at that time.

    I wanted to go, my uncle would never allow me cause being a policeman, police and military were always at animosity. They are never in good terms.

    So my uncle was never ever accept me joining the military. No matter what, he said I'm not going to join, but there's a school there. One of my teachers, Muhammad, explained to him that he's going to learn and study there, not going to join the arm forces.

    So that's how I managed to run away from Kelantqn and join the bus company, at the age of 13. Enrolled in form 2 the, and in college for the next six years there..

    Ling Yah: What was it like there? I mean, you were so young and you spent so long at the boys company.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I like the discipline life. I like the teachers in particular. The teachers were mostly English British.

    There was only one Malay teacher, one Indian teacher, one tennis teacher, Chinese teacher must of whom was my biology teacher, the rest all English. They were very good teachers actually. When we took up our examination, they called the senior Cambridge, sekarang SPM, you know. I did quite well. the senior Cambridge.

    So it was really good British system. I like being there.

    Ling Yah: Didn't they teach you the mil military routine as well?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes, it was military training almost weekly. We prayed, shooting and all part military trainings as well, incalcated into you.

    So it keeps you fit, you know, from morning until you go to bed. Sleep at 10 o'clock.

    Ling Yah: And you love the life . Were you doing that and thinking I wanna join the military?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Well it was partly, yes. Why not? I like it. I saw what future is like. We read books about military and so I like the military life.

    Anymore questions?

    Ling Yah: I read that you swam from Pulau Pangkor Laut to Pulau Pangkor.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. How? You remember what I wrote in my book, huh?

    Ling Yah: I did. Tell me about it. Cause I've been to both sides. It's quite far.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: One day, um, a friend of mine the late Arifah Wang, he joined air force.

    He was an aeronautical engineer. We decided to swim across to Pulau Pangkor from Pulau Pangkor Laut which is quite far actually not realizing the current. So we started swimming at eight o'clock. After 1 hour swimming, Ariff was drifted away. I couldn't see him anymore. So I kept on swimming for a good eight hours. Eight hours and I reached Pangkor Laut, Pulau Pangkor.

    So on arriving there, a group of fishermen really scolded me. They said you are stupid, all sort of words being used. Because this a dangerous place. They see people been eaten by shark. The portugese man of war, all this dangerous thing. Why the hell did you swim? Oh my God. I didn't know about all this so I swam across.

    Ling Yah: It sounds like you don't regret doing it though.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: No, I like swimming. I swim. I also swim Singapore to Johor. That was another feat of swimming.

    Ling Yah: What was that like? Was it harder to swim from Singapore to Johor?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: The one Singapore was a challenge actually.

    One day we had session on the British aircraft carrier, HS B war actually had a Japanese slipway.

    So the British Marine challenged us, if we could swim across the Strait. Okay. We took the challenge. So in uniform, we jumped down from the deck 30 to 40 feet down. We swam. The British marine jumped down, but they didn't swim.

    We swam right across. It took us 4 hours to reach Johore in uniform!. So we did it. So we proved to them that we could do better than you can do. Before this they said the Malaysian can never become a commando. No, we really proved to them that we can do better. That surprised them actually.

    Ling Yah: So after you did that, they never said it again.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: No.

    And Lagi apa question, you banyak question.

    Ling Yah: So I want to go back to boys company, right.

    I read that you almost studied medicine, but then you ended up doing the cadet wing instead. How did that happen?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. During the final interview, board of governor's interviews and Tan Sri Kadil was the chairman. He said you are offered a scholarship to go and take up medicine in Glasgow, Scotland. I cannot accept the offer. I can't I said because I've got no parents left to go and study overseas, you still need parental care, maybe RM10 a month or 15 a month to buy toothbrush. Nobody is there around to support me.

    So then you get out from the hall, make up your mind.

    I head out the director with studies, it was Mr. W at the time he came up the rear door. He came to me say, you boy, look, I took the trouble to recommend you. You bloody going back there and say, yes, you understand? I said yes, sir. I went back in again, said, well, have you made up your mind? I said, yes. Oh, no, sir. I cannot accept the offer.

    Oh my God. Okay. you join the army. We send you to Sandhurst. After two years we send you university pick up engineering. I'm not gonna go the engineer course, sir. Why not? I just ran course. Oh, you want be a, I don't want be engineer course.

    I want to be a combatant. Then I'll send you to the infantry. Go to Cadet wing. That's how I ended up cadet wing next two years and became officer. That's how I joined the army.

    Ling Yah: It sounds like even when you were young, you knew exactly what you wanted and you weren't afraid to tell people, right. Even when all your spirit said, no, you're crazy.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: No, no. Nobody advised me of what to do for life. Whether to go to the army, or engineer, whatever it is, nobody had ever mentioned about a future.

    So this is all pre-ordained in life because it's accidental that I joined military. I like it. I like being in uniform, so it is accidental, but I like it.

    Ling Yah: What was it like? So joined the Royal Malay regimen 4RMR in 1959. And you said it transformed you into a professional soldier. What was it like?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh 4 Royal Malay was a good talent, actually. It is highly disciplined. You're taught from A to Z to be a good officer. Very highly disciplined unit. That's how you learn to become a very highly disciplined officer. And the officers study period is a weekly affair.

    They make you read and read and read and read books, military history, and so on and so forth. That's how they make an officer out of you. They make you an officer who is knowledgeable. That's how they build you up. This is 4 Royal Malay. How good it was. The system is what we learned from the British legacy, you know?

    Ling Yah: You said you read a lot. Were there certain things you don't mind sharing that you learned that really changed the way that you thought of military life and being a good officer.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I can tell you I've read almost all military history books. All the campaigns.

    From the SLE as Aly PE the latest war in Iraq. Falkland war and so on and so forth. I did all those books. So I know what was good, what was bad. I learned history. I learned strategies. To me, reading is good.

    I don't read. OK. Any other question?

    Ling Yah: You said you read a lot of strategy. I just wanted to drill down cuz I find it so interesting. Was there a particular military strategist that you really admired and why?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. The Falkland. The strategy was the question of where the British ended up. And small ship versus big ships. Oh, the British did it, the gathering of intelligence by the special forces, by the SAS and by the commanders prior to sending the infantry, the Gurkha battalions at the Falklands the.

    They went right into the heart of Argentina.

    And then there was a torpedo that hit big ship. The torpedo that hit the Argentina festival called

    drowned. 350 men went down with it. One small torpedo. And from there, the British learned that it's better to have smaller ship to fight against the big ship. This is strategy they learn from the Falkland war.

    Over here people may have big ship. But what we need is a smaller ship, torpedo ship. Very fast torpedo ship. They can go at 30, 40, 50 knots with torpedos. I think this strategy should be adopted by our country.

    Instead of people buy a big ship, you also must buy a big ship. Let them have big ship. We have smaller ship, but hard hitting ship. This is the best strategy that I've learned from the military history that I've read.

    Now, there are many others on land battle. Different by William slim against the Japanese and those days. Oh, good strategy. How they did against the Japanese, during the Japanese war.

    When we learn about the biggest naval battle ever fought in the Philippine, another good strategy employed by the allied forces U S but I'm not going to follow the strategy of bombing Hiroshima Nagasaki.

    For them, that may be a good strategy, but killing millions of innocent people is something that shouldn't look into at all. Okay. Them two bomb and bloody wall. One Nagasaki, one Hiroshima.

    So what? Is it a good strategy? To them is a good strategy. To me, it's a killing s trategy.

    Ling Yah: Do you find yourself struggling with the idea of killing another person because that was what you were trained and paid to do, right?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Killing another person?

    Ling Yah: Yeah. Was that something you ever struggled with?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Killing another person, your enemy is a matter of life and death.

    Your profession is to eliminate your enemy. How you do it is all a different matter. If you have someone who want to kill you, what do you do?

    Ling Yah: Yeah. You'll definitely fight back.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes. You fight back. Cause what killing is all about. Okay?

    Ling Yah: Were you ever afraid? Cuz I read that you were never afraid of death and I wonder was that from the start or did you learn to not be afraid?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I, To me life and death is all in God's hand.

    And as far as I'm concerned, it's only God will determine when you die, how you die. So what is there to be afraid of? I was once asked by somebody are you afraid of death. I said, sir, you shouldn't be afraid of death too, because your lives all there. It's written when you will die, how you'll die. You wouldn't know how, but you'll die one day.

    So what is it to be afraid of? I've jumped the skies, the night skies and day skies all over. I should have died.

    I should have died when one day my parachute didn't open. I landed in a buffalo hole somewhere in the padi field.

    Ling Yah: It was like five feet deep. Right? And then you went still again.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yeah. I should have died. Well, God says you're not fated to die on that day, so I am still alive.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel like a strategy to overcome fear based on that story? Cuz I read you fell into the Buffalo lake and then you went straight up again and then you still had an issue and you almost got electrocuted.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes. Just to kill your fear, you do it again. We made a mistake. We parachute in the paddy field and that, and then I properly packed. So you jump again and again.

    So I said just to kill the fear. I packed the suit properly this time I jump. Higher.

    Okay. No problem. So that kill my fear.

    Ling Yah: I read that a philosophy while you were going back at four RMM, is that be cruel in order to be kind.

    What does that actually mean? How do you apply that?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: This is the motto that I used when I was the instructor at the cadet wing actually. I told cadets that I've got be cruel to you in order to be kind. Kind to the government, kind to the army, giving a good army officer, good leader. If I were to commission a poor fellow, a poor leader, I'm not kind, not being kind to the doctor. That's what I mean.

    So I told everyone of them, look, everybody be cruel to you in order to be kind. Cruel to you in the sense that I'm gonna train you. I'm gonna mould you I'm gonna make a good officer out of you so that I pass over good officer.

    Ling Yah: You said good officer quite a few times. How do you define a good officer? What makes a good officer?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Is he knowledgeable?

    If he is not knowledgeable, if he cannot take whatever is being thought to him, he is not a good officer.

    And dependable or not? Is he trustworthy or not? So this is what we look at.

    People who are very slow learner, what to do? Cannot take up instruction properly. To be a good officer, you gotta be mentally and physically fit.

    Some are mentally fit, but physically not fit. Some are physically fit, mentally not fit.

    These are the thing that we look into an officer.

    Ling Yah: You said they need to be able to learn and be educated, right? How do you find that line between learning and following orders, but also knowing when to push back? Cause your seniors probably aren't always right.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: When I was teaching, I give the weekly test for instance, to pass the test where they've learned what I've taught them last week. See whether they pick up or not. From there can judge.

    And Then I tell them in the field, whether they can do it, whether command.

    If a man cannot command a section in the field, he is not fit to be commissioned as an officer. If he can command a section and a platoon, then he can be commissioned. When once commissioned, he's gonna command a platoon when he goes to the unit. If he cannot command at that level, sorry, no way. Okay?

    Ling Yah: And in the 1960s you were deployed to Congo as part of the first Malayan special forces. What was it like? Anything that stood out for you? It sounds like there was a lot of memorable incidences there.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: In the Congo. Oh my God. What do I say in the Congo? First, when we arrived to Congo, we were put into a camp called, ozone camp. I was duty officer for the past 30 days already.

    They don't change duty officer. Our duty officer standard shift was 28 days and then They don't change duty officer. I continue duty officer until we reached Congo and we went to a camp called Ozone camp. The other officers were all busy.

    I was the only duty officer with the manager. The communist came with the armored vehicles to the door telling us to get out of the camp.

    I said no. I had only my pistol. They had big guns. I stood my ground and shouted telling us to get out. I told the man to get ready, bring out a weapon called bazooka. We got no clue at the moment. You not drive yet.

    So just aim at them. So I told the communist if you shoot at me, they shoot at you.

    So they pulled away . I saved Ozone camp from being taken back by the communist. That is the first day on my arrival in the Congo.

    And I was asked to look after the man elected to be the prime minister but was never made a prime minister because he was put in prison.

    After a few weeks they want to take him into the boat and upstream. So I escorted him into the boat upstream. To my horror, I to found out he was slaughtered 2 days later. He was cut to pieces by these Chao which is Mumba magistrate.

    There were many incidents in the Congo that I can never forget. You can read from my book. How I saved the Belgium from the prison.

    They were looking for 2 Belgiums from the mines, missing loss. So I discovered they were kept in prison inside the camp. I told the people, these people were there. Now we can take them. So from stealing them,

    the three into the roof, opened the roof, lower the rope took them out. That's it. Cover back.

    The next day I went back to the camp and they were shouting. here and there Two prisoners gone. Door was locked, but how they go out? They don't know.

    I was also saying how I was surprised. I was a liaison officer. I could speak both languages, Swahili and French. I told them,. Oh my god. Something's wrong somewhere.

    I dunno Some people were taken to task after that for sure.

    The guard Commando was taken to task, oh my God, save another officer. The came down to visit. They went to kind, and it was caught by the Communist, normally before that they were caught

    Italian and cruiser, you know, and gut them to pieces at the market. And this officer was about to be done too. I was told I went there, saved this officer Colonel Dixon was there. Didn't save him. He would've been slaughtered. Eaten, perhaps. Eaten.

    An officer can never give an order. A corporal has a say, sergeant a say, everybody has a say, so that's it.

    Ling Yah: After Congo, you came back to Malaysia and there was this thing called the confrontation or undeclared war. And I wonder for people who don't know what that is, what was it actually?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: When we get independence in 57 , there was moved to get Sarawak and Sabah to join us and turn Malaysia into Malaysia. Our friend down south didn't like it. They got a plan Indonesia raya since 1945 to unify Malaysia, including Malaya, Borneo into big Indonesia. This is part of Sukarno's plan.

    So Sukarno had a talk with president of the Philippines. He disagree that we form.

    So we send facts finding mission into Sabah and Sarawak. And ask the people whether they like to join Malaysia.

    Yes they like. So we see the wishes of the people of Sabah and .

    Sukarno doesn't like it. So he started giving us trouble.

    The first trouble was the harassment of our police station and Tebedu, 2nd April 1963.

    Ling Yah: There were like 30 Indonesian Raiders, right?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes, yes. And they went into the second division, the third division, and even in west Malaysia. So lots of landing all over the places.

    So this was was undeclared. You know, why undeclared?

    If war is declared, then the world will take that it is a war between two nation. Others will not come to support. Just like us for instance, we buy let's say some weapons system from Italy. Come war, italy will not supply because they remain neutral. That's why they don't declare so that they can continue to buy a weapon system from all over the places. That's why the war is undeclared. So we fought the undeclared war from 1963 to 1966.

    Ling Yah: And wasn't this the reason why the Malaysian special service unit started?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh, because the confrontation was getting bigger and bigger, the British, marine commandos and the British overstretched. They can't take all these burden by themselves.

    So they came up with a suggestion that we should also form commander to, assist. This idea came way back in December 1965. So late Tun Razak accepted it.

    We got orders in January, 1965 to form the commando. We called for volunteers, some 1,500 volunteered for service in the commando, including your good self.

    Ling Yah: It's not easy to get in right? 350 out of 1,005.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes. 350 out of 1,500 was selected to undergo the commando course run by the British in in Johor. Batch by batch, 50 at a time went there.

    I could not go during the first run, cause I was still instructing cadet in the college. So the commando say, you can only go after the passing out of this intake six of the short service.

    So I only went after the intake six was passed out and I went to join the Commando. So we form up the Commando in 1965. So we assisted the British and we finally took over all the role, all the job when they left. Okay.

    That was the aim that they want to pass over the job to us because they can go back. Why should they be bothered about you anymore? Therefore, take care of yourself. Okay? Lagi?

    Ling Yah: What makes a commando? Like what are the main characteristics of a commando?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. First, you must have an aim in mind.

    What's your aim in mind? My aim was to be the best fighter.

    So you learn other techniques and tactics of fighting from the infantry, the commando training, which is quite different. So if you want to be good, you learn more. So I wanted to learn more.

    Secondly, you got to be physically fit and mentally fit. That's why only 10 to 15% pass every commando course. Out 50, only 10% pass. These are the best. Physically and mentally fit.

    Ling Yah: I wonder why was it that, you know, these people would want to become a commander cuz it took so much effort and it was really hard.

    So what was the motivation? The driver.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh, people admire you. If you are beautiful people admire you. Betul or not? If you are strong people admire you.

    Another one is you want to do a job. The job is to go for the enemy. And to beat the enemy, you gotta be beat the enemy.

    You gonna better train. That's why we want to join the commando.

    Ling Yah: What was your toughest operation that you've been on?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. Every operation is a tough operation for me. Otherwise we will not get involved.

    Toughest one perhaps was when one day I was called by the Prime Minister, late Tun Razak. He wants to know where is Chin Peng, the head of the communist . So I went out there and told the army chief what the minister wants. He too was surprised.

    So what I'll do, I'll go into Perak area. Spread out Kelantan border to Kedah border. We swept the jungle. We took one month ration to last three months in the jungle.

    Whatever we found, we ate. If you were to ask me what have I not eaten. Only men have not eaten

    So to survive, you go eat, you gotta eat snake, you gotta eat monkeys, everything. Search the area.

    We heard what was across the border. They were having conference using Honda generator. We can hear from border area. So there was one very tough operation. I'm not gonna go beyond that.

    Ling Yah: And isn't even in Malaysia, right? Yes,

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: that is now the tower impression was enemy land in, you know, where it's in sabar right in area wave calling.

    I landed to Tawau they were told, couldn't find the enemy and give them hell 300 of them. The way went in down by helicopter, jumped to the swamp area there.

    After two hours, we found their track landed. They followed that track all the way to the river.

    Ling Yah: And there were only 33 of you, right?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: About 300 enemies.. And there was very tough, and the second highest mountain in Sabah.,

    The higher you go, the more bloody leeches followed you. Oh my God. The way to survive is salt. You just rub your body with salt. They don't come to you. Otherwise, oh my, despite all these you'll find one leech here in the morning, one there in a shirt as big as your toe, you know, haven't sucked your blood. And then to welcome you there are crocodiles. Crocodiles all over the river country.

    So the enemy could not cross the river because there is no way of crossing the river to hit our ranger company in Kalabakat. So they went back to Kalimantan Barat. So we come back.

    To cross there, I found a Kelabit village. So they got this boat which can take one man each time cross river.

    So we use the boat 33 time to cross the river. Gave them whatever you have. They were very happy to get something from us.

    That was a very, very tough operation working for you know, about almost three months can imagine walking from day to day, morning to evening, morning to evening for three months in the jungle I know whether you can do it or not. Hmm. I can say it's bloody tough.

    Okay. Lagi?

    Ling Yah: You mentioned a person that was shot in the head.

    Was that the third son? Cuz I read that there was a father who's first and second son and also the third son served under you and they unfortunately you know, passed away under service.

    How do you deal with loss? Because that's quite frequent. Like that's part of the job.

    How do you do deal with it?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Until today I will never, ever forget it was one commando. He died in the commando. So when we sent him for burial in Batu Pahat, Johor, the father spoke to me, I've got another son wants to join the commando. I said no, please you have one who passed away and that man, please don't send another one.

    He sent one. That's man also died in operation.

    So send for burial in Batu Pahat and the father whisper me, I've got another son. I said, please, you got two already that pass away in my hand.

    Oh my god, I said, please don't. And later found out the third son also joined the commando.

    There was a Malay ambush in Sarawak. We sent a troop to do the follow up.

    He too was shot in the head. Third son came back buried. This time I asked the father, have you got another son? No, I've got no more son. Only daughters. I don't accept daughters. Three brothers died in the Commando. How can you forget?

    These are the, man that we train so hard but they're fated to die in battle.

    Ling Yah: How do you cope with such loss?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I take it saying that this is all part of life. You, the case could accept it. It was a father's wish all the sons must die in the commando. I can never forget father. I can now forget the father's name. okay. Any more question?

    This is your touching question.

    Ling Yah: I wanted to jump to your time as a defense attache in south Vietnam. This was in 19 74, 75. So you were there during the Vietnam war. Tell us what was it like?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I was bombed after my special forces of the, in Fort Brack in North Carolina, we were bomb whole night there, not when I was in that .

    We were bombed whole load of from 20th aircraft destroyed in the airport. One whole night, the vietcon hit airport with mortar fire. That was in 19 I went 75 as attache.

    Ling Yah: What was it like when you were there as an attache?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Well, Vietnam was at war, the fat offensive begun when I arrived. They briefed me, they say, this is normal yearly occurrence. They get you here and there. People were missing and so on and so forth. So I didn't quite believe it. Being army trained, I had a lot of friends in Vietnam, cause we met in Fort brag together. They were attending a lot of courses.

    I know them. I even know the commander of the first airborne division who was there in Fort Brag. I met all these people. They Bohan, it's gonna be a very bad year. You had to be prepared for it.

    So there was one thing I. And people who are deserting by the hundreds.

    I question some of these people who deserted. why

    In Vietnam, corruption so rampant that you can afford to pay them in gold, you serve in the rear. You can't, you serve in front

    Every day can hear 300 people missing in action, missing in action, missing in action..

    It happened every year. I got words from all these people. People from other embassies were sending their family away on holiday, but they never returned.

    They were sending out, sending out, sending out. So I told our people, look, we should ourselves start send out and send our family home. Oh, they don't listen to me.

    One day I told my family, look, I'm gonna send you home tomorrow . So I told the staff there, Some of them also joined the bandwagon.

    I met them at the airport and they were sending the family home.

    Oh, they were attacking even the palace. We stayed very close palace. My children two saw the aircraft bombing. They clapped their hands, thinking it was just another firework or something like that.

    Oh my God. That was day. There was a friend of mine, came with a bag full of gold hey Borhan, take children away with you and said I'm myself there.

    When you go and see some people from the American embassy or sending that. So he went away. He actually offered me 30 bars gold. Can imagine take the two children away with. That was a really bad situation.

    I was able to a military assessment of what was happening. And I come to the conclusion we got to live. By hook by crook I'm sending my family home.

    Just five of us left. The rest all went home, were running from place to place, hidding from place to place. And of the day we tried to contact our people, all the British We said they would help us out together with the aircraft.

    They left without telling. When I went to the embassy, I saw only the gurkhas there. They sent the ghurkas from Hong Kong to look after the embassy. The rest, all left. I went to see the airborne division they were in control of Saigon, to go to the airport to contact our aircraft. Managed to contact from our aircraft, from our people from can contact

    Aircraft going to Saigon was shot down.

    My God. I plead please don't shoot down our aircraft. I give the last few dollars to the air controller money that I have. This is a. So the cool through aircraft came, we landed person give me 10,000 US dollars to buy petrol. He said no more petrol here. Oh my God. So we waited after some aircraft landed the to then we managed to go up.

    I say, you just don't shot. And we got Sam missile can shoot low, low all the, the, all the way back. Halfway, tak cukup you petrol. Tak cukup minyak. Have fuel problem. Red Sign. No. Oh my prepare for prepare for water landing. all kind of problem. Somehow the God is kind, we manage to reach Kota Bahru, just enough petrol to reach. That' s how we saved ourself.

    Ling Yah: You heard a lot of stories coming out right after you left, you were asking your friends what happened. You had this friend you used to know who stood his ground against a tank and used a bazooka against them.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: the tank.

    Oh, this is um, when I left a lot of damage, ran by boot landed. I, and

    so I to go there and meet some of them, I met officers who escape the commander,

    he, he was the man manning the road, he was having a bazooka, the anti-tank weapon. When the tank came after him, he shot the tank. The tank rolled over him. He died.

    There was an airborne commander himself, the north Vietnamese.

    Can you imagine that: your enemy, he award you with a medal?

    He's a good friend of mine, named Trung in Fort, North Carolina. We play golf together.

    He pinned the Vietnamese airborne wing on me jumping together in Vietnam, where he passed away. That's the way he wanted to die. He died as an officer.

    Ling Yah: So you were a green beret for 15 years of service life, and then you hung up. Was it hard for you to give up being green beret?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: No. It's not hard because um, I was sent and national defense course in India.

    After I came back, I was made the defense planning officer.

    And after a year on the job, I was promoted to major general. There's no post in the commando. if there is a post in commando would love to go back to the commando. When I'm leaving a unit that you raise from a piece of paper to the special service group, you are losing a family.

    I've lost a family, but I treat them as my relatives. We are still friends.

    They treat me just like their father. They call 'bapa commando'.

    So I miss them. Every time I go in there, I saw what I left. I saw my old house where I used to stay the mess where used to an office study period on weekly basis. You live in a house just like you and you get old. You love your parent, love your mother and father, but you still love them.


    Ling Yah: What do you miss the most?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I miss joining them on various sports like um, free fall competition. I mean, the was, I miss them all. Fishing trip with them. We used to take a boat and spend the night fishing..

    I came back with lot of fish and all those people used to come, okay, take the fish where have thick ourselves, about five or six fish to go. You can take. We caught a lot of fish. That's what I wish, sharing life with the families there. I know every family in the commando.

    I used to visit them, knowing them, their family, just like my own family. And I was money off. I know every wife of the men. I know everyone of them where they come from, how many childrens they have. This is what I just like my own family.


    Ling Yah: To your family's credit it's not an easy life for them as well. When you move, they also move. Right. And it a very simple life.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes. Very simple life. That's how we live. Well, anyway, I dunno how we are today, but. They are quite different, the different people, different special guys to the, my style.

    my leadership style is quite different.

    Ling Yah: How would you describe your leadership style?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: My style is very simple. Ask yourself, why you love your mother most? Because she take care of you from the day you were born. Brought you up.

    If you want your men to love you, you take care of them. That's why I took care of the men. Look after their welfare. I provide them with a good living and a good working condition. I give them the best of training, make them a real good man, good soldier.

    And of course lead by example by.

    Ling Yah: What do you think differentiates a good leader from a great leader?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: A great leader must be a good leader. Okay. we are not good. You cannot be a great leader. Okay. But you gotta be good. You're gonna be good to be a great leader. You cannot be a great leader if you're bad.

    Ling Yah: Was there any person you met that was the greatest leader that you've ever met and why was he so great to you?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: The great leader I've ever met. The one man that I can never forget: my mentors, the late Ghazali Che Mat. The PGB to fight the brave men. Honest man, a man who stopped me from leaving the arm forces.

    I had left the armed forces, I would be a fisherman. I wanted to be a fisherman.

    I was sick and tired of certain characters. I got kicked here and there. So I said time that I say goodbye until I met this bloody man.

    You'll not leave.

    Brought me to his office. Here's one bungkus nasi lemak. You take half, I take half. Mind you, he's a three star man.

    You know, I was only a colonel. I admire him.

    Ling Yah: Then there was the late General Tunku Oman, right, who said, don't be afraid to say no when you right?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: One day at a meeting , he chased me out from the meeting, by the uniform. We had tried out so many uniform, A, B, C, D . I recommend D because D is good, strong, but only the cost is RM4 per yard. A is only 80 sen per yard. He chose 'A', 80sen per yard. I said this will last only 3 days in the jungle and it will be torn to pieces!

    Get out! I was kicked out. One day before retired, he was officiating opening new camp that I had built.

    Well, at that ceremony, he whispered to me. Borhan, he said, don't be afraid to say no, when you are in the right.

    You remember? Yes sir, I remember that. So I stick to this advice. Don't be afraid to say no, but sticking the advice I suffered many, a repercussion.

    A lot of unbelievable thing happened. When you should be promoted, you not promoted. You got kicked from a to B. You're asked to do this and that. So I asked to do a lot of things, but I did very well.

    He asked to do small some, but he got kick out until had a letter of resignation. The repercussion of sticking to the advice, by Tunku Osman, but saved by the late Ghazali Che Mat.

    Otherwise I would've retired as a fisherman.

    He said wearing four star uniform. So the advice I would like to say is a good advice. If only people listen to this, you would do a lot better than today.

    Whole trouble some people they quite afraid to say no, when they're right.

    There's a saying, you cannot beat the system, you join the system. This what's happening today. You try to beat system, you get into trouble. So the best thing is to join the system. That is what's happening today in this country.

    Ling Yah: Were you never tempted to join the system because I've read in your book and you said that, this system had trained you to have honor to have integrity, but then you were being punished for being honest and forthright. Well, were you never tempted to Well, what's the point I'm being punished for doing precisely what you want me to do.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Got accept it. But I was happy to say that I stood my ground. You're right. What is wrong in telling your chief, sir, please don't buy this with cause it's not compatible.

    One year was asked to buy something for the commanders. I said, the equipment is not compatible for the commanders. They send people to my office telling me, please buy this. I said, sorry, because they're no good. He asked me, what is your bank and bank account number?

    Upon hearing that, I called my mag, please show these two characters out the camp. I got kicked out after three days. Anyway, I did what had to be done. They bought what was not compatible. but Only throw them in the river. They spend millions. They join in the system. You cannot beat the system.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Okay. Lagi?

    Ling Yah: I wanted to talk a bit about the fact that on third March, 1993, you were the chief of army, and then you became chief of defense force on first, February, 1994. What do you consider to be your greatest achievements during that period?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my God. Well, during that short period of time , I managed to put a lot of things on papers.

    Also raised a lot of unit informations blah. during the period. I raise for the army management city covering training management, management, logistic management, telling people on management in the Institute. I.

    The deployment force, the RDF I, the Bri, I managed to change from the army command from the co Phil mining. Both is in west militia. Phil. I managed to raise the army aviation union.

    I also built the home for the commanders in Mersing.

    Ling Yah: Isn't that the home with oysters?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yes. My recognition was born in areas full of oysters. I told the Sultan of Johor that I found oysters in this area. I said, please don't tell people. Actually, oh, just got both. So I didn't tell anybody until today SOAN has passed away. I didn't tell the prison Roan. I only know

    This somewhat what? 80 50 plus high 80 feet, low 60. There's the, it is between two islands. that's all I can tell you. So youll

    Ling Yah: be diving 60 feet every day to get oysters to eat.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I was diving for places to find the most fitable area to build the command who came. So I drive all this area, where we can use for training, So I happen to discover oysters in area. the building of the camp, I can never forget. I found the area told, so I say you going ask for the land. I went to see the state secretary I don't ask him. I say, all this area land is to be given the command for camp. Are you sure the fruit requested as this? Yes. You the, I didn't think he would dare. So he got the land. You go the land, but we got no money to build again. how do we find money having you? How money only the, tell you how I managed to get the money.

    I managed to find 500 million for the versus for the army but I spent 300 million for Camp Iskandar.

    Ling Yah: Didn't you tell Anuar that the army loves you now, don't wait for them to hate you?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Yeah, just the gist of it. I told him, look, army love you you today, but don't wait until they hate you .

    Ling Yah: He must have been shocked.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I threatened him actually. I have actually been court martial threatening the prime minister.

    Ling Yah: I mean, you were actually threatened with court martial when you were very young, right, by your superior for speaking up.

    You were not afraid.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: That was when I receive a letter saying that commando was to be disbanded. I went to Mandef, asked him sir, why did you do this? We had an argument.

    Final says you been Englishman. What if there was gonna be another confrontation. You tell me, what do we do? You don't ask for people like me to volunteer again. He was very angry. You're being insolent. I'll court martial you, blah, blah, blah.

    And hearing this argument, the army chief next door heard, burst open. What the hell is happening?

    This officer, going to court martial him! The army chief, come to my office. We had another explanation. Another argument over there next time.

    Go back. So I went back, I waited for court martial. There was no court martial until I retired. But I, the commander cancel 60.

    There's no SSG today. If not for this bloody man.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think now that you've retired? What do you think of the armed forces today? And is it moving in the direction that you would have wanted when you were chief of defense?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: When I was serving always think that this is my job. To have an armed forces, the army, which is the state of readiness. Defend the country The definition of state of readiness is a man power and state of man power. Man power, meaning not just the forces, the army, how well train are they? How is their morale? Ready to go war? Ready to defend the country?

    Is the population motivated to defend the country?


    Ling Yah: Not too much.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: There you are. Are they trained country? They're not trained country and like country. They have national service. Everybody's serving the armed forces for a couple of years. And they do annual training.

    The threat you are motivated, but we

    are not.

    Plus the state of equipment.

    What is the state of recruitment today?

    You can see for yourself. It's worsening. Plus sustaining. How long can you sustain conflict?

    When you have no defence industry in the country, everything is imported.

    So this is what worries me. When I was serving, this is the thing that I tried to do. Until today, things have not changed.

    Is the arm forces today in the state of readiness to defend the country, you ask yourself. Every citizen can answer those three things that I give the definition of what is state of readiness.

    Man power statement. How long can you sustain? Another thing worries me is talking about training.

    In the arm forces, in particular the army. You spend 70% of your time to train because your job is that!

    Unless you train for war. When come war, you're not ready for it. Ask yourself, have you spent 70% of your time to teach them, train for war?

    I used to ask young officers whenever I meet them, what sort of officer study do you have this month?

    You can't answer me

    as an officer. How many books have you read to educate yourself?

    To be knowledgeable you got to read, read. You're lazy to read, or you looking at computer, looking at this, looking at that, you can forget being a good officer.

    You got a message or not?

    Ling Yah: Yes .

    What is the most underrated skill as a great leader?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Well, to be a great leader.

    One who is um, concerned about wellbeing of your men. Me until today, I still look at those under command. I used to visit their family.

    I wrote books.

    Sell the books and make some money. This is meant for the sick and lame comrades.

    Lot of sick and lame comrades.

    There're not very many left.

    Not very many live 80. People ask me how old are you? I say I'm 38 years old.

    These people serve me. It is through them that I became what I, was.

    Whatever I have whenever I appreciate. The book that I wrote, it's not meant for myself, but for the sick and lame comrade.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel like, because you lost your parents so young when you were age one, your dad and at age nine with your mom.

    Do you feel that that shaped your character? Cause you sound so independent even when you were so young.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: I was very independent. I was so independent, even from the age of nine.

    I assisted my auntie in Kelantan washing plates. After dinner, after lunch, I wash plates. I cleaned the house, swept the house from the of nine.

    So when I joined military college, this is nothing to me. I'm so independent right from young place. So like today I see my granddaughter, for instance, the age of nine, still mother feed her. What the hell is going on? Spoiling the child.

    I wash my own sock. I wash my own shoes when I was nine.

    I didn't know, father, I didn't even know what he looks like. There was no photograph taken.

    Ling Yah: What is your greatest regret?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: My only regret is that maybe I did not see to my children through in life. the way that I should have done.

    Giving them education is one thing, but helping them to go through life, that I did not do.

    One of them, the elders got three master's degrees, but she didn't succeed in life. Second one engineer also did not do very well in life. Third one an accountant, also not did not do quite well in life.

    Fourth one the doctor she did quite well in life. She's the only one who did it life .Well, she's the only one that stay with us in the house and she takes care of the mother.

    Ling Yah: You didn't become a medic but she did.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: That is the only one. But the other two, three, I didn't see them through in life the way I should have done it. Anyway other regret in life is I did not succeed in the plan for the arm forces.

    When I left, I plan to form up the command structure and Northern command central command, Southern command, Eastern command. So each command given another. At least another five people being promoted to lieutenant general that I miss, because I left, although were asked to extend my service for two years as a storage service.

    Not that good because people behind you hoping get promoted don't get promoted. I lost 11 years of my seniority because people ahead of me extended two years, two years, two years, one year, and so on so forth.

    So when I reach the time to be promoted, I got only one year left. so I want to extend so and so behind me cannot be promoted .

    So because of that, I could not form this command structure. That's the only regret. I could not fulfill one area of my plan, the rest all done. Okay.

    Ling Yah: For any young person who's listening to this interview and they want to be a commando do you have any advice for them?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: My advice to be a commando is that first what is your aim in life. If you aim in life to make yourself better trained soldier, then you are the commando.

    Otherwise stay where you are. Don't join the commando. Money will leash tissue extra. See what I mean? Or no, physically and mentally,

    so we have got extra knowledge to let you, you have got maybe master's degree to commando got PhD and better. Okay.

    We are always better trained than enemy today. If you want to be commando there still way to look at it.

    Firstly and secondly is should be proud to be a member of elite unit. People who joined one brigade for people look at you as ate.

    Commando is another elite unit. If you want to be a commando, you want to learn more, join the commando. Okay. You are satisfied what you are. Don't join. You're afraid to die young, don't join. Afraid to jump from aircraft. Don't join. Okay?

    Ling Yah: Okay. Tan Sri, thank you so much for your time.

    I want to end with four questions. The first one is this. Do you feel like having lived such a illustrious life, that you have found your why or your purpose in life?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Oh my.

    So why in life?

    I don't think I can answer this question. Maybe after dinner, or maybe during dinner I can answer the question why. no worries. The only answer I can say is why, because it's just, you just want to be a better man.

    Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy would you like to have left behind?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: what legacy? joined being a member of the elite group. Commanders is the legacy that I think I left behind having the young officers looking at the legacy that I've left behind. Okay. Be a better man. Be a better soldier.

    Ling Yah: And better educated.

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: Of course. Not only that you got to be educated and self educated,

    Otherwise don't be an officer without knowledge. Forget about being an officer. Only with knowledge. You can give you man, the kind of training you want. No knowledge, forget.

    That's the legacy I'm living behind.

    Ling Yah: Will you say that those are the most important qualities of a successful person or successful Commando?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: The most important quality of a successful person first is be great leader. What a great leader?

    Good man with integrity. People don't doubt in you. Integrity is something that is so lacking. People have doubt in you.

    You have doubt in the president government. If we have no doubt in president government, then you're great leader.

    Ling Yah: Is there anything else that you'd like to share that we haven't covered so far?

    General Tan Sri Borhan Ahmad: My worry is that the political system today is not bringing the nation for a better future.

    Our neighbor, for instance, where Singapore has done a lot better than us. Where Indonesia is getting better and better than us. And we are not. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with our system? This is what worrying me.

    Those wants to be leaders tomorrow, must think of what is good for the country. Why are we engrossed with political problem in this country? What is wrong with the current system?

    Social problem you can do is killing in the country. Talking about corruption for instance, we are world champion.

    What are we doing to solve the country problem?

    Is a lot not good enough? Then do something about it! The way I look at it, for as long as the system stays, the country will remain as it is for the next 10 generations.

    So we got think what's wrong with the education system today? Is it the best system?

    During my days, when we go to school, we use one book. Pass from brother to sister. Sister to brother. brother to sister one book. Today, every year you got to buy new books.


    It's because people make money outta the books!

    Poor kampung folks got 10 children, gotta buy 10 sets of bloody books.

    What is wrong with the country?

    Sorry to say that. Don't tell the politician. I'll go to jail tomorrow.

    and I now speak to me from the bar outside there.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 92.

    The show notes can be found at and stay tuned for next Sunday, because we'll be meeting the founder of some pretty extraordinary startups. Including one that became the most prominent business focus social enterprise in North Korea, and was even used as the reason that Singapore should be the country used to host both Donald Trump and Kim Jong for the 2018 North Korea, United States, Singapore summit.

    Also, he's now running a YC-backed crypto startup on DAOs e the Kazakhstan government. Pretty interesting, eh?

    To learn more, do subscribe to STIMY if you haven't done so already and see you next Sunday.

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